How to receive your MS degree while a PhD

PhD students who want to pick up their master’s degree while they work toward their doctoral degree typically pursue a non-thesis master’s degree rather than a degree with-thesis. PhD students may apply for admission to the program as early as their first academic year and are encouraged to apply prior to sitting for the qualifying exam. Students who do not apply early but still want to earn their master’s degree should complete the MS application for admission at least one year before defending their dissertation.

Steps to Earning your MS Degree

  1. Apply for admission to the Optical Science and Engineering MS Program through the Graduate School’s Online Application Portal:
  2. For the 3 recommendations, use the following: Tino Hofmann (, Renee Johnson (, and Kate Cruz (
  3. For your Statement of Purpose, submit as a PDF document the following single sentence (no essay required): I am applying to earn my MS degree while I work toward my PhD.
  4. All previous transcripts and test scores will be transferred to your new MS application from your original PhD application.
  5. However, you must upload an unofficial copy of your current UNC Charlotte transcript to the new MS application (because your current UNC Charlotte transcript was not part of your original PhD application and therefore cannot be transferred over).
  6. Once accepted, fill out an Academic Petition for an “Internal Transfer of Credit”. This will populate your MS Degreeworks with your PhD classes.
  7. Fill out a Master’s Capstone Report for Comprehensive Exam using the same information as your Qualifier. Make sure to use the non-alias emails for everyone on the form.
  8. Apply to graduate: Log into, select Banner Self-Service, Student Services, Student Records, and Online Graduation Application. Click “Continue” if this is the first time a graduation application has been submitted, or “Create a New Application” if one has been submitted previously. After completing all sections, click the “Submit” button.