Graduation and Degree Requirements

Please refer to The Graduate Center Bulletin for the degree requirements for the Master of Arts and the degree requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy. Make an appointment to deposit your graduate work (doctoral dissertation, capstone project, MA thesis) in the GC Library.

Before a student can be certified as a candidate for a doctoral degree (advancement to Level III of the process of earning the doctoral degree), the student must have completed the following requirements:

  • all required course work (of which at least 30 credits must be taken at the City University) with at least an overall B average;
  • any language requirements;
  • the First and Second Examinations; and
  • any special program requirements for certification

The master’s degree is awarded by a senior college or, in certain fields, by The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, to enrolled doctoral students who have fulfilled certain requirements. These requirements include a minimum of 45 GPA credits with an average grade of B (courses taken for P credit ordinarily cannot be included), passing the First Examination, satisfactory completion of a major research paper or, in some specific programs, a research paper, and any other requirements that may be established by the degree-granting college for en-route master’s degrees. Students must be enrolled and have met their financial obligations to the University. Applying students must abide by the deadline for filing established at each college. Those seeking an en-route master’s degree should have their Executive Officer initiate the appropriate application. Students in programs where the master’s degree is awarded by a senior college will receive information about how to obtain a diploma from the senior college. 

The Graduate Center awards the Master of Philosophy degree (M.Phil.) to doctoral students (with the exception of those enrolled in the Musical Arts or clinical doctoral programs) who are advanced to candidacy. Please note that the date of the advancement to candidacy determines the date the Master of Philosophy degree will be conferred.

The preparation of a dissertation and a defense of it form the final evaluation of a candidate’s qualification for the doctoral degree within the academic program. Approval by the program is typically confirmed by action of the Graduate Council and the City University’s Board of Trustees. Dissertation committees consist of at least three members of the CUNY doctoral faculty and are approved according to procedures detailed in the governance document of each program. The program will announce to the Provost, and, by posting and/or other means, to the general public and the members of the committee, the time and the date of the defense.

Degrees are awarded three times per academic year. In order for the degree to be awarded (and for the dissertation to be deposited, if applicable) the candidate must meet academic degree requirements in their program of study and the following enrollment requirement:

For the degree to be awarded in February, candidates must be enrolled the preceding Fall semester; for May/June, the concurrent Spring semester; for September 30, the preceding Spring semester.

Students must be making satisfactory progress toward the degree in order to maintain status at The Graduate Center and to be eligible for any student financial assistance.

Review the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy and procedure.

Doctoral Degree
All requirements for the degree must be completed no later than eight years after matriculation. A student who matriculates after the completion of 30 credits of acceptable work must complete all requirements within seven years.

Master’s Degree
All requirements for the degree must be completed no later than four years after matriculation.

Periods of official leave of absence are excluded from the time limits set for completion of degrees. Extension of time limit must be initiated by an Executive Officer and requires the approval of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

Please visit the GC Library's Dissertation Office page to learn about the dissertation and theses deposit procedures.


The Graduate Center works with Parchment, a digital credentialing service, to issue diplomas. Notice of the digital copy of your diploma will be sent to your preferred email address in CUNYfirst within 2 weeks of conferral. Instructions for retrieving the digital copy of the degree will be included in the email.

A hard copy of your diploma will follow within 6-8 weeks of degree conferral and be sent to the mailing address you have listed in CUNYfirst. Please allow an additional 2-4 weeks for delivery to addresses outside of the United States.

In the event the original diploma has been lost or destroyed, a new diploma will be issued as a duplicate and will bear a notation to that effect. The duplicate diploma fee is $30.00 USD. Please complete and return the Duplicate Diploma Request Form and contact the Office of the Bursar at for payment options.


Please contact the Office of Special Events for any inquiries regarding commencement ceremonies. They can be reached at

Degrees are conferred three times per year and posted to your record on these dates. Be sure to clear all holds prior to your defense and deposit to ensure no delays in the confirmation of your degree.  Once the degree is conferred, you may order a transcript to show proof of degree.

Deposit Checklist

  1. Apply to graduate in CUNYfirst
  • See deadlines above.
  • For students in programs with sub-plans, verify your track in CUNYfirst:
image of screen "Apply for graduatio" with arrow pointing to sub-plan below degree program
  • If you have earned a certificate, verify with the program that they have submitted the application.

2.  Review the deposit procedure instructions on the Library website.

  • Check Holds (prevent diploma, but not graduation) in your Student Center by logging in to CUNYfirst and clicking on the Holds tile:
    Image of Student Center with arrow pointing to Holds tile on right side of the page

*Be advised that “Satisfactory Progress” holds and “Advisement Required” holds do not apply and will be removed after degree conferral.


  1. Deposit per the Library instructions
  2. Doctoral students complete the NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates This voluntary survey helps establish statistical data which assists The Graduate Center with funding and grants.
  3. Did you check and resolve your holds? Nota bene: holds prevent receipt of diploma, but not graduation. Holds from other campuses do not affect graduation.
  4. Once you receive confirmation from the Library that they have accepted your deposit, the process is as follows:
  • The Library will notify Registrar;
  • Registrar adds the deposit date to your record, which you can reference in CUNYfirst:
Image of Milestone screen in CUNYfirst with arrows pointing to line where deposit date displays
  • For those requiring a letter of completion, as soon as that date appears, you may contact Registrar for a letter of completion. You can also request a transcript, which is the official record.
  1. For questions about commencement ceremonies, contact the Office of Special Events at