Incidental Master’s Degree

At Princeton, the Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully passes all parts of the general examination and all other relevant departmental requirements. It is awarded to Ph.D. students in all divisions: humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering. The only exception is in the Department of Music, where Ph.D. students in the music composition program may earn a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) as the incidental degree. 

The incidental master's degree may also be awarded to Ph.D. students who, for various reasons, leave their Ph.D. program, provided that the program-specific requirements for the awarding of the master's degree that are listed with the Graduate School are met. Once this degree is conferred, it is final, and a student becomes ineligible for all other degrees. 

Ph.D. students who have earned the master's degree may request that the master's degree be awarded at any time up to the point when the Ph.D. is awarded, when the two degrees may be awarded concurrently. Because no degree can be awarded retroactively, and because the master's degree is an incidental degree which may be earned on the way to the Ph.D. the master's degree cannot be awarded after the Ph.D. is awarded.

Termination of Ph.D. Degree Candidacy at the Master's Level

Termination shall stand without further appeal unless new evidence of scholarly promise or capacity is provided by the former student's subsequent professional achievement, as shown by scholarly publication. Recommendation for reinstatement to Ph.D. degree candidacy may be made to the dean of the Graduate School by the department. The dean's decision in such matters is final.