Master's Thesis

For updated policy changes for remote learning please consult the  Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines.

The guidelines below are for programs in which an “official thesis” is an option or requirement. Please check with your program director to make sure your program requires the official thesis or has it as an option.

  1. Register
    When all required coursework (and required exams in some programs) is finished and the master's thesis option is approved, students are enrolled in six credits of thesis research. Students should be in contact with the program director program specifics.
  1. Membership of the Thesis Committee
    The Thesis Committee must consist of at least one thesis mentor and one reader. The mentor must be a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member.
  1. Timetable of the Thesis
    Generally the thesis should be finished in no more than one academic year. During the first registered semester, the student should have the thesis topic approved by the mentor and a plan for completion of the thesis. During the second registered semester, the student should finish researching and writing with the direction of the committee.
  1. Topic of the Thesis 
    Each program has different ways in advising a student to select a research topic. The topic may be one of the student’s interests, from coursework, be an extension of a course project, or a project developed with a faculty member. When the title of the thesis has been approved by the committee, two copies of the Thesis Approval Form should be submitted to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office. If the program requires a proposal of the thesis, then the two copies of the Thesis Approval Form will be submitted to the Dean’s Office of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences after the proposal is approved by the thesis committee.
  1. Thesis Proposal 
    Some programs request a written proposal or a statement of the thesis at the first stage of the thesis development. This process is established by the program, so students should consult the program director for information. The proposal will be approved by the thesis committee. Then the program should submit two copies of the Thesis Approval Form to the Dean’s Office of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
  1. Thesis Completion (Final Thesis) 
    The Thesis is complete when both the mentor and reader(s) approve the manuscript or approve with minor revisions. It must be submitted to the mentor and the reader(s) before the program’s submission date. The student should check with the program director for program deadlines. Some programs may also require special forms to be attached to the thesis when the student submits his/ her thesis to the program. The student should check with the program director to determine the program’s process. After the thesis has been approved by the committee, the program office should prepare the official thesis paperwork that must be submitted to the Dean.  Paperwork can be emailed to the Dean for approval at
  1. Format of the MA Thesis
    The format of the Master’s Thesis document is the same as for the doctoral dissertation, but the required forms and copies are fewer than for the doctoral dissertation. Typically, the program office helps the student to prepare the thesis documents. Students should check with the program director or follow the program’s guidelines if there are any questions.
  1. If you choose or are required to submit a Master’s thesis, you are now required to upload the thesis to ProQuest/UMI. While the final thesis paperwork should still be submitted to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, a physical copy of the thesis is no longer needed. Capstone papers, long papers, final project papers, research papers, etc., should not be uploaded to ProQuest/UMI. Only those final requirements officially described as a “Master’s thesis” should be uploaded. 

    Instead, the presentation of the Master’s thesis to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will be conducted “in absentia”: after uploading the thesis to ProQuest/UMI, students must submit the final thesis paperwork to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for review. Once the thesis and the paperwork have been reviewed, students will be cleared for graduation. 

    In programs where capstone papers, final project papers, and the like are required, students should follow that program’s process for submitting the project and then file the final paperwork with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Again, no appointment is required. The Master’s thesis should be uploaded to ProQuest/UMI using the following link:

    The uploaded thesis should be in its final version, including any changes required by the committee and in the proper format as indicated in Appendix E of the GSAS Academic Policies and Procedures Guidebook

    Programs are required to submit the final thesis paperwork to by the deadline in the academic calendar so that the student can be processed for graduation. 

    Please follow the deadlines posted in the GSAS Academic Calendar.

  1. Policy for Committee or Title Change
    Any changes including mentorship, committee membership, or title of the thesis must be reported to the Dean’s Office at least two weeks prior to the official submission date using the Thesis Approval Form marked “Revision” which should be signed by the program director. Late reporting of a change may cause a delay in graduation. Therefore the student should take care in making sure all changes have been reported.
  1. Failed Thesis
    If a student fails to complete the thesis on time and/or conduct a Thesis at an adequate academic level, he or she may be in danger of failing the Thesis requirement and therefore the master’s degree. It is very important for students, mentors and program directors to map out the completion of the thesis so that expectations are clear.