MA Thesis Guidelines

Expectations for the MA Thesis

The MA thesis is a piece of original research that has the format, style, and intellectual framework of an article in a peer reviewed academic journal. Even if you do not ultimately publish your MA thesis in a journal, you should regard it as your first attempt at being a professional scholar and writer.

The paper should be of modest length (60-100 pages) including references, footnotes, etc. A literature review is not an acceptable thesis. You must collect and analyze your own data. However, keep in mind that you should be able to analyze your data in one semester, so keep the scope of your project manageable. A full draft of the thesis is due by the end of the fall semester. You will spend the spring semester revising the thesis.

Suggested MA Thesis Timeline

Semester One

During their first semester, students must successfully complete 3 courses and develop a research question for their MA thesis. Students should meet with faculty to discuss their thesis idea.

Semester Two 

Statement of Intent

By the midpoint of semester two, students who want to write an MA thesis must submit a 2-3 paragraph Statement of Intent to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) explaining what they want to study, why they want to study it, methods to be used, and the three faculty members they would like on their committee.  Students should have a faculty member who has agreed to chair the thesis.  The goal is for the student to show they have a concrete idea about a feasible project and clear sense of who would serve on their committee. Statements of Intent will be reviewed by the DGS, department chair, and faculty for their viability and the student’s likelihood of successfully completing the proposed project.

Thesis Proposal

Students who have their Statement of Intent approved will then write a full proposal for their thesis.  The proposal should contain the following elements: 1) Introduction that identifies the research question and rationale for the study, 2) Brief Literature Review that identifies the major theories and scholarly literatures with which the student is engaged and hopes to contribute, and 3) Methods that details the intended research methods and feasibility of study being completed during summer term, 4) Appendix containing any research instruments, like interview schedules or survey questions, and 5) Works Cited that employs ASA citation practices. Students will not be required to have a formal thesis defense meeting, but they are encouraged to meet with their committee to discuss the proposal.

Semester Three

If students are collecting data involving human subjects, they must prepare and submit their IRB proposal before collecting data. Their thesis chair will serve as the PI for the project in all forms. Students will not be permitted to sign up for thesis credits if they had not made significant progress on their data collection.

Students will successfully complete three to six credits of Master's Thesis and three to six credits of approved graduate course work. The course work should complement the thesis research and must be approved in advance by the chair of the thesis committee. A full draft of the thesis is due by the end of the semester.

Semester Four

During their final semester, students will successfully complete three to six credits of Master's Thesis and other approved graduate coursework. Student must submit their application for graduation by the deadline. Students will then complete their thesis, submit it for review by their committee, defend their thesis, and submit the final version to the Graduate College by the deadline.

MA Thesis Resources