Advising and Program Overview

Learn more about degree requirements including advising, registration, plan of study, culminating experience and graduation.
For information related to graduate policies and procedures, click here.

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Graduate Studies Manual

This manual is designed to be a general reference for affiliated faculty associated with, and/or students pursuing a Master of Science in Sustainable Transportation and Logistics (STL). Included are policies and procedures as set forth by the SSISTL, as well as the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and the Graduate School of the University of Buffalo.


At the time of acceptance, students are assigned to a preliminary advisor. Students should seek a primary advisor no later than the end of the first semester, based on their intended concentration of study and interest in culminating experience.

Once selected, students are required to consult with their  major advisor to plan their coursework and research for each remaining semester and in the preparation of the Application to Candidacy and other forms that must be submitted. The permanent advisor provides guidance and helps direct the student’s project or thesis. The student’s M.S. thesis committee is chaired by the student’s permanent advisor.

Plan of Study

The MS program in Sustainable Transportation and Logistics is a 30-credit, 3-semester program (if completed full-time) and requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 every semester. Students have the option of choosing between two concentrations: transportation or logistics. Students should choose their electives from their intended councentration. If a student wishes to take an elective outside of their concentration, the Director of Graduate Studies must approve the course.

By the end of the first semester in the program, students should have identified their primary advisor. At this point the student should work with their primary advisor to make out their plan of study for the remainder of their program.  The student should complete an STL Plan of Study Form that is to be signed by their advisor. This form should be returned to the Graduate Coordinator in 118 Bell Hall no later than the second week of the student's second semester.


Students are required to maintain continuous registration until they complete the program. Full-time status is 12 credit hours (9 for GA/TA/RA). If students meet the requirement to be registered for less than 12 credits, they must fill out the full-time status form  Internaional students should contact ISSS about a reduced courseload form as well.

Culminating Experience

As part of each Master’s program of study, there is a culminating (“capstone”) experience that ranges from a comprehensive exam to an M.S. thesis or project. Although the all-course option, which requires 30 credit hours of coursework and a comprehensive exam, is the recommended path for most Masters’ students, a student, with approval of his/her permanent advisor, has the opportunity to choose a thesis or project as the culminating experience. The culminating experience will determine the number of electives the student must take in their course plan. The Thesis will replace 2 elective courses and the project will replace 1 elective course.

Students opting for the thesis or project must submit a proposal to their advisor for approval. These forms can be found on the Current Student Information page, or by seeing the graduate coordinator.

Comprehensive Examination

Upon completion of 30 credit hours of course work, each student enrolled in the coursework-only M.S. program must pass a comprehensive (C-exam), which will be scheduled at the conclusion of the student’s program of study. The comprehensive examination is designed to evaluate the student’s mastery of their program of study and their ability to integrate knowledge acquired through their program. The comprehensive examination date will be established by the Institute’s Director of Graduate Studies and will be held within one week of the conclusion of each semester. The examination will primarily focus on content from the core curriculum and will be a written exam.

Master's Thesis

For those interested in pursuing the MS thesis option, the thesis counts for a total of 6 credits, meaning that the student only needs an additional 24 credits of coursework to graduate. The MS thesis must be successfully defended before the student’s MS thesis committee. The MS thesis committee is chaired by the student’s permanent advisor and includes at least one additional graduate faculty member from the core or affiliated faculty of the Stephen Still Institute. The student’s advisor will help to form the committee.

Prior to the MS thesis defense, the student in consultation with his/her advisor will prepare a first draft of the thesis. Upon completion of a "reader's copy," the student’s committee members will have one week to review the document and decide whether revisions are required or if the defense can be scheduled. If revisions are necessary, then additional time will be needed for further review. The thesis must include a cover page listing the student’s advisor and committee members, along with spaces for their signatures. Once the thesis is ready for defense, general announcements must be posted one week prior to the defense. The defense should consist of an oral presentation open to the public of about 30 minutes in length, with an additional 10 to 15 minutes for general questions. Immediately after the open session the defense will continue with the student's thesis committee only.

After the defense, the committee will determine whether the student has successfully defended the thesis or whether additional work is required. After successfully completing a thesis defense, the candidate must submit to The Graduate School an electronic copy of the thesis as described on their website.

Students ready to defend their dissertation should email the Graduate Coordinator, Kaeleigh Peri, with the date, time, and location of the defense. The title of the dissertation along with a copy of the abstract should also be provided to be included in the formal announcement.

Master's Project

Student's opting for the Master's project will take this course in lieu of one, 3-credit elective. The project must be approved by the student's primary advisor, who will then determine the parameters of project. For all M.S. projects, a report shall be submitted to the student’s project advisor, who has sole responsibility for its review, revision and acceptance. The advisor must be a faculty member in ISTL and a member of the Graduate Faculty. There are no committee requirements for M.S. projects.

Project vs. Thesis

A thesis is typically longer than a project and is a well-organized, thoroughly documented scholarly paper, detailing research purpose, methods, results, analysis and conclusions. Research for a thesis maybe more extensive than research for a project in terms of the amount required, but also depends on the number of credit hours related to the thesis and/or project. Students in the STL program will choose between a 6 credit thesis or a 3 credit project.

 While a thesis must be defended orally in a public forum, a project does not need to be defended or presented public. A master's project only needs approval at the department level. A master's thesis must receive final approval from the Graduate School.

Graduation Requirements

Candidates must meet the Graduate School’s degree conferral requirements to be eligible to graduate:

  1. Maintain continuous registration each spring and fall semester until all requirements for the degree have been completed
  2. Complete a minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate study
  3. Fulfill the minimum residency requirement of 24 UB credits of registration
  4. Apply to graduate (in HUB) before deadline.
  5. Pass a comprehensive exam or successfully complete a project or thesis
    1. Thesis must be orally defended at the department level and electronically submitted to the Graduate School for approval and filing
    2. Project must be approved by the student's primary advisor
Questions? Contact us!

Kaeleigh Peri
Graduate Coordinator
118 Bell Hall