A minimum of 45 credits (27 coursework credits and 18 thesis credits), a thesis, and successful final examination in defense of that thesis are required to earn a Master of Science in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. Most master’s students in the School earn more than 45 credits in order to meet all degree requirements, and they often graduate within a two-to-three year period.

Information regarding supervisory committee, thesis, and final exam procedures can be found in our student guide. The UW Graduate School’s minimum master’s degree requirements are outlined on its webpage. Note that SAFS has additional requirements.

Below is a summary of the SAFS master’s degree requirements for quick reference. Students should read all of the requirements in this guide for further details.

  • Within six years, complete all degree requirements, including 45 total credits toward the master’s degree (eligible transfer credits can be included)
  • Complete the core and additional course requirements detailed in the sections below
  • Earn 27 non-thesis course credits (i.e., not from FISH 700)
  • Earn 18 credits at the 500-level or higher (9 of which can come from FISH 700)
  • Earn 18 credits of numerically graded coursework with at least a 2.7 grade
  • Earn at least 18 credits of FISH 700
  • Make satisfactory progress on degree milestones and other requirements; students should review the Timeline for Master’s Students
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0

Note that the same course may be used to satisfy multiple requirements. For example, FISH 521 counts as a 500-level, non-thesis, numerically graded course.

Course and Credit Requirements

Degree requirements are set in part by the Graduate School and in part by the School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences (SAFS). The Graduate School sets University-wide requirements for minimum scholarship (a GPA of 3.0 or higher), residence at the University of Washington, number of required credits, and continuous enrollment; SAFS determines the required curriculum and has added some credit requirements to the University minimums.

School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences Core Courses (33 credits)

The following courses are required for students in the SAFS Master’s Program:

  • QSCI 482, Statistical Inference in Applied Research, 5 credits.
  • FISH 510-514, Current Topics series, 2–5 credits (grading basis may vary depending upon the course/quarter offered); students are required to complete at least two of these courses during their graduate program. QERM 597 and FISH 578/BIOL 570A also count toward this requirement.
  • FISH 521*, Research Proposal Writing, 4 credits.
  • FISH 522*, Hot Topics in Aquatic & Fishery Sciences (offered credit/no credit only), 2 credits.
  • FISH 700, Thesis Research, 18 credits.

*FISH 521 & 522 are normally not available to regular non-matriculated and graduate non-matriculated students. Email safs@u.washington.edu for more information.

Students who want to waive any of the Core course requirements (excluding FISH 700) must obtain approval from his/her Major Professor and the Graduate Program Coordinator via a petition process. The Graduate Advisor can provide the necessary form and instructions. The FISH 700–Thesis Research requirements cannot be waived; SAFS requires at least 18 credits of FISH 700. Most students far exceed this minimum by the time they graduate.

Additional Course Requirements

At least 12 credits of coursework at the 400- or 500-level are required in addition to the SAFS Core courses listed above. The student, in consultation with his or her Supervisory Committee, chooses the specific classes. If a Core course is waived, students must replace the missing credits with additional non-thesis coursework at the 400-, 500-, or 600-level. (Note that 600-level courses cannot count toward the numerical grading requirement.)

Graded Credits

The Graduate School requires that numerical grades be received in at least 18-quarter credits of coursework taken at the UW. This work must be in approved 400- or 500-level courses. A grade of 2.7 or higher is required in each course that is counted toward a graduate degree. Note that 600-level courses do not count toward the numerical grading requirement. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for a graduate degree at the University.

Transfer Credit

A student may ask the SAFS Graduate Advisor to petition the Dean of the Graduate School to transfer a maximum of 6 graduate-level credits, earned as a graduate student in another recognized institution, to satisfy UW Master’s degree requirements. These credits may not have been used to satisfy requirements for another degree.

Up to 12 Graduate Non-Matriculated (GNM) credits earned at the University of Washington may apply toward a Master’s degree. The maximum number of overall graduate-level credits that can be transferred is 12, which includes a combination of GNM credits earned at the UW plus up to 6 credits maximum (see above) from another eligible institution. Credits earned as a post-baccalaureate or regular non-matriculated student cannot be applied toward a UW graduate degree.

Please note that the six-year limit for earning the master’s degree begins with the earliest course transferred toward the UW Master’s degree, whether from an outside institution or UW GNM credits.

For more information about transfer credit, students should refer to the Master’s Degree General Information posted on the Graduate School’s Policies and Procedures webpage. Graduate School Memorandum #37 contains information about GNM credits at the UW.

Residency Requirement

This requirement ensures that UW degrees are awarded for work substantially completed at the University of Washington. The UW Graduate School requires students to complete a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW. Because SAFS requires 45 graduate-level credits for its Master’s degree, a minimum of 39 credits must come from the UW (i.e., 39 UW credits plus 6 potential transfer credits yields 45 credits).

Transfer credit restrictions are detailed above. Students without transfer credit must earn all 45 credits at the UW. There is no longer a requirement that students complete three full-time quarters in an academic year, i.e., part-time enrollment is allowed under certain conditions. However, international students will likely need to be enrolled full-time to meet the student-visa requirements. International students should consult the International Students and Scholars Office regarding any visa questions, including registration minimums.

Students with certain types of funding (e.g., research and teaching assistantships) need to maintain full-time enrollment (10–18 credits) to maintain eligibility for funding during the Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters; only 2 credits are required for Summer research or teaching assistantships. Questions about enrollment requirements for graduate student appointments? Contact the SAFS Student Services Office.

Time Limit for Completion of Degree Requirements

All work for the Master’s degree must be completed within six years. This includes all applicable transfer credit and quarters spent on-leave or otherwise not enrolled. Students may petition the Graduate School via the Graduate Advisor for an extension to the six-year limit. Approval from the student’s Major Professor/Committee Chair and the SAFS Graduate Program Coordinator are required. The Graduate School reviews each request on a case-by-case basis and extensions are not automatically granted.

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