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Thesis and Applied Project Proposals

Proposals are to be presented by the end of the second semester (with the exception of Peace Corps Fellows who do an applied project based on their internship experience).

  • Step 1. Formulate a topic for the thesis or project. Students generally do this step in concert with the graduate research methods (GEOG 505) course.
  • Step 2. Identify an advisor. Refer to the department faculty/staff page for general expertise. Further information about potential advisors for particular subject can be obtained in the 505 class, where this is covered. The faculty member must agree to serve as the advisor -- simply identifying this person is not sufficient.
  • Step 3. Once a faculty member agrees to serve as an advisor, the student is to work with the advisor to identify two (2) additional committee members. Note: The graduate program coordinator has a form that all committee members sign indicating that they have agreed to serve on the committee. The graduate program coordinator must have this form on file.
  • Step 4. Meet with the advisor to go over the specifics of how you will proceed. Different advisors may proceed in slightly different manners -- make sure you know what your advisor expects (e.g., timelines, turn-around time for revisions) as you proceed. It is the student's responsibility to know the advisor's expectations.
  • Step 5. Begin work on the proposal in concert with the advisor. The student will work only with the advisor when constructing drafts and revisions. Students are not to send draft versions of the proposal to the other committee members unless there is agreement to do so (see step 6). Guidelines for constructing the thesis and project are available here with additional information regarding applied projects available here .
  • Step 6. When the advisor feels that the proposal is ready to go to the rest of the committee members, the advisor will instruct the student to send copies to these individuals. Students are not to decide that "the document is ready." The advisor will contact the other committee members to inform them that they will be receiving the proposal.
  • Step 7. The advisor will allow the other committee members time for proposal review. If the full committee agrees that the proposal is ready for presentation (some minor revisions are acceptable), the advisor will schedule the proposal presentation with the graduate program coordinator. The graduate program coordinator is to receive at least one week's notice of the presentation date. The student will not schedule the presentation. If special equipment is needed (e.g., computer and projector), make sure the advisor and graduate program coordinator know this so that there are no room or equipment conflicts.
  • Step 8. The Presentation. Students will make a presentation of the proposed thesis or project to the committee. It is customary for the presentation to be open to department faculty members and students. Presentations are typically 30 minutes, with a question-and-answer period following.
  • Step 9. Approval. Following the presentation, the committee will deliberate in closed session to determine whether the student (1) may begin the thesis or applied project as proposed; (2) may begin the thesis or applied project with revisions to the proposal; or (3) the proposed thesis or applied project is deemed unacceptable.
  • Step 10. Final Document. Copies of the final version of the proposal are to be delivered to the thesis/project advisor and the graduate program coordinator.

The Thesis or Applied Project

The defense of a thesis or applied project represents the culminating experience in the graduate program. The following steps apply to the construction and defense of the thesis or applied project.

  • Step 1. Following the approval of the proposal, the student begins work on the thesis or applied project in concert with the advisor. As with the proposal, students will work only with the advisor during the process of writing drafts and revisions. It is unrealistic to assume that the thesis will be ready to defend following submission of the first draft. Students are to expect multiple revisions and schedule time to complete the degree with this in mind. The student will meet with the advisor to determine a schedule for submission of work (e.g., one chapter at a time, the entire document at once). As with the proposal, students are not to send draft versions of the document to the other committee members unless there is agreement to do so. Guidelines for constructing the thesis and project are available here with additional information regarding applied projects available here .
  • Step 2. When the advisor feels that the thesis or applied project is ready to go to the rest of the committee members, the advisor will instruct the student to send copies to these individuals. Students are not to decide that "the document is ready." The advisor will contact the other committee members to inform them that they will be receiving the thesis or applied project.
  • Step 3. The advisor will allow the other committee members time to review the document. If the full committee agrees that the thesis or project is ready for defense, the advisor will schedule the proposal presentation with the graduate program coordinator. The graduate program coordinator is to receive at least one week's notice of the presentation date. The student will not schedule the defense. If special equipment is needed (e.g., computer and projector), make sure the advisor and graduate program coordinator know this so that there are no room or equipment conflicts.
  • Step 4. The Defense. Students will defend the thesis or project in a public venue. It is customary for the presentation to be open to department faculty members and students. The student is to consult with the advisor concerning the length of the defense. Typical defense begin with presentation of the work by the student followed by a question-and-answer period.
  • Step 5. Approval. Following the defense, the committee will deliberate in closed session to determine whether the student's thesis or applied project (1) is approved as submitted; (2) is approved pending specified revisions; or (3) the thesis or applied project is deemed unacceptable and is not approved. Students are to consult with the advisor and graduate program coordinator if the thesis or applied project is not approved.