Internet Explorer Detected

The Penn State Graduate School website is best experienced in Firefox or Google Chrome. It is highly recommended that you use an alternative browser.


Culminating Experience - Professional Master's



To define acceptable culminating experiences for professional master’s degrees.


Academic Goal

To ensure that all students pursuing a professional master’s degree complete their studies with a high-quality culminating experience that integrates the knowledge and research experience acquired during their time in the degree program.



All professional master’s degree programs.

A professional master’s degree is not conferred for a mere collection of credits. A well-balanced, unified, and complete program of study is required, including the preparation and acceptance of a high-quality culminating experience.

Policy Statement

  1. A culminating experience is required for all professional master’s degrees. The specific form of the culminating experience is proposed by the major program and approved through the Graduate Council curricular review process. Examples include but are not limited to a project, a paper or essay, a presentation, an internship, an exhibition, a production, a performance, a comprehensive examination, or a capstone course.
  2. Graduate programs are strongly encouraged to have their students submit the product of their culminating experience to ScholarSphere, as appropriate to the program and discipline.
  3. The student’s major program must establish guidelines for the culminating experience that are uniformly applied to all students in that program. These guidelines and evaluation criteria must be presented to the student prior to the student initiating the culminating experience. These guidelines must include clear criteria for evaluation and an evaluative tool (e.g. a rubric).
    1. These guidelines also must include the program’s policy describing the student’s options in case of failure, including:
      1. If retaking the capstone course or redoing the culminating experience is permitted, and if so under what conditions.
      2. If retaking the capstone course or redoing the culminating experience is permitted, if there is a limit to the number of attempts or a time limit on completion.
      3. If students who have failed the final attempt will be terminated from the program.


Graduate programs may require all students in the program to submit the product of their culminating experience to ScholarSphere.

Revision History

  • Approved by Graduate Council, March 17, 2021. Effective date: Fall 2021 (08/16/2021).
    • New policy.
This page was generated on December 4, 2023 at 9:07 AM local time. This may not be the most recent version of this page. Check the Penn State Graduate School website for updates.