UAB Fifth Year Master’s Options

Guidelines for Programs

Requirements set by the Graduate School for Fifth Year Master’s programs

  • At least 30 hours of coursework is required at the graduate level . 
  • Fifth Year Master’s students are classified as undergraduate students and allowed to enroll in graduate courses through permission of the department. Graduate credit can be accumulated while a student is completing their undergraduate degree.
  • Students are eligible for admission to a Fifth Year Master’s programs if they
  1. have completed at least 60 hours of undergraduate credit
  2. meet the admission standards of the program (with the exception of the GRE requirement), and
  3. are offered admission  (i.e., admission to Fifth Year Master’s degree programs is not automatic).
  • While the GRE is not required for admission to a Fifth Year Master’s program, a program may require that their students take the GRE and submit their scores prior to receiving the Master’s Degree
  • Each program determines whether the degree will be offered as Plan I (thesis) or Plan II (non-thesis).  To earn a  Plan I Masters degree, at least 6 research hours and a thesis are required.
  • The Graduate School oversees quality of programs

Issues related to student financial aid and accounting for progress toward degree

  • Financial aid
  1. Students receiving UAB scholarship support can use this support to pay for credits applied to be applied to a Graduate degree if taken under the terms and conditions of the award.
  2. Some providers of federal aid may require that students retain their status as an undergraduate to continue receiving proceeds from their award.  Students receiving federal aid (e.g., Pell Grant) are also required to maintain full time status as indexed by at least 12 hours per semester applied toward their undergraduate degree in order to receive their full grant amount.  Federal Aid will be reduced when a student is enrolled in fewer than 12 undergraduate semester hours per semester.  Graduate credit hours can be counted toward the 12 hour (full-time) requirement if written verification is provided documenting the hours are being applied toward a requirement of the undergraduate degree.  The academic advisor is responsible for providing this verification.  Per the 2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog,
  •  Undergraduate Students in Graduate Courses
    • With the approval of their advisor, the undergraduate program director or department chair, the instructor, and the graduate program director, UAB undergraduate students may be allowed to register for graduate course work. Credits earned by undergraduate students may be applied to either an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree, but not both. If the student is subsequently admitted to the Graduate School, use of this credit toward a graduate degree requires the approval of the graduate program director and the Graduate School dean. (The Graduate School does not give credit for any grade below a “C”.) Credits that have been used toward the baccalaureate degree cannot be used a second time toward a graduate degree.”
  1. Departments or programs offering Fifth Year Master’s programs are not required to offer students financial aid in the form of either a stipend or assistantship. 
  • However, a department or program may elect to offer a graduate assistantship to a Fifth Year student, but only after the Bachelors degree has been awarded.
  • Individual mentors may offer students assistantships or other financial support.
  • Accounting for progress toward degree
  1. If allowed by their undergraduate major, students may take graduate courses to satisfy requirements of their undergraduate major or to satisfy the minimum number of hours required for the Bachelor’s degree (120 credit hours). Verification of graduate courses applied to the undergraduate degree must be documented and appropriate notification must be received by the Office of Financial Aid and the Registrar.  For Fifth Year Master’s students, graduate courses will be assumed to count toward completion of the graduate degree unless the student’s academic advisor informs the registrar that the graduate level course will be counted toward their undergraduate degree. 
  2. Students enrolled as Fifth Year Master’s students should plan their curriculum through joint consultation with their academic advisor, a representative of the graduate program in which they are enrolling, and their honors program (if applicable). 
  • Clear records need to be kept by the undergraduate and graduate advisor to ensure that the graduate courses which are applied to their undergraduate degree are noted.  After the student has officially graduated with their Bachelor’s degree, the graduate program cannot use a course counted as part of the undergraduate course of study toward completion of the graduate degree.
  • A course taken as part of the undergraduate course of study may satisfy a curricular requirement of the graduate degree, but the credit hours will not be counted toward the graduate degree if they have already been counted toward the undergraduate degree.
  1. Thesis requirements (for Plan I Fifth Year Programs)
  • For students participating in honors programs with a thesis requirement (i.e., Science and Technology Honors, Global and Community Leadership Honors, most departmental honors programs), the Master’s thesis maybe an extension of Honors thesis.  The following procedure is suggested
    • The Fifth Year Master’s Program Director concurs that the thesis topic is within the range of topics deemed appropriate (i.e., is relevant to the discipline awarding the degree)
    • The student’s thesis committee determines what portion of the proposed project would constitute the undergraduate honors thesis and what would be the additional requirement for the Master’s degree.  The honors program will determine what documentation and procedures are required to complete the undergraduate honors degree
    • The Fifth Year Master’s program will determine the work product required for the Master’s thesis (e.g., scientific journal article).
  1. The responsibility for assuring that all degree requirements are met for both degrees rests with the program.

Fast Track or Fifth Year Masters Programs

Progression from Application to Graduation - Current Program Procedures

  1. Student/applicant has interview with Fast Track Program Director

Program Director recommends that the student apply to graduate fast track program

Note: Some programs may require that the student be working in a lab or get involved in lab work before applying to graduate fast track program

  1. Student/applicant goes online and applies to the graduate program using ApplyYourself

Currently, the options are either Biology or Mathematics under the fast track designation; additional fast track programs will be added to the ApplyYourself system after they are approved.


  1. Student/applicant applies and the program recommends contingent admission to a graduate program (student is coded in Banner as an undergraduate until he/she earns the BS degree).  Note: Graduate programs may require successful completion of the GRE and submission of GRE scores by the end of the last term of student’s BS program.


  1. Student/applicant is admitted to the graduate program contingent upon completion of Bachelors degree and provision of GRE scores (if required).


  1. Student is coded as fast track in the Banner system (initially as an undergraduate)

First curriculum-undergraduate program

Second curriculum-graduate program

Has Banner attribute of fast track (identifies all fast track students in Banner)

  1. Student completes Bachelors degree requirements and applies for graduation. Once the bachelors degree is awarded the student coding in Banner is changed to show the first curriculum as the graduate program, but the student is still identified as a fast track student. (By this time the student must have submitted GRE scores to be accepted into the graduate program if the program requires submission of GRE scores).

    2.      Student enrolls in graduate level courses as an undergraduate until BS requirements are completed. Fast track students can be either Plan 1 (Thesis Option), or Plan (course work only) trainees.  After completion of BS requirements, students follow a normal Masters progression: 

  1. Masters Committee, if required by the program, is selected and gets graduate dean’s approval
  2. Masters Candidacy paper work submitted and gets graduate dean’s approval
  3. Completion of thesis research (Plan 1), or work for capstone paper (Plan 2)
  4. Defense and submission of thesis if Plan 1; submission of capstone paper if Plan 2 
  5. Student applies for MS degree (Plan 1 requires successful defense and submission of thesis) or (Plan 2 requires course worksheet and final paper).

    3.     Student completes masters degree requirements and applies for graduation. (Rarely, a student can be awarded both degrees in the same semester)

    4.     Conferral of the MS degree is approved by the Graduate School.