Last Step: Does is seem strange to start with the last step? Read on…
The Graduate Studies rule that matters most here is the one that requires the completed
and committee-approved thesis to be turned in to the College Reader three weeks prior
to the end of the semester you intend to graduate (see the Graduate Studies website
for specific dates).
That means your planning must begin with that deadline in mind.
Be sure to get a copy of Graduate Studies thesis guidelines.
First Step: Now we can begin at the beginning. Why do you want to write a thesis? (Occurs during
your first 12-15 hours)
You have a “burning” question that you wish to answer.
You enjoy the process of researching and writing and want to be able to work on a
longer project that the typical class assignment
You enjoy challenging work.
You plan to get a doctorate and you think this will improve your chances (not necessarily
Second Step: How do you get started? (Occurs during your second semester)
Talk with your teachers about your reasons and your interests.
Find one professor who will agree to direct your project. This requires a good deal
of exploration because the Director must have expertise in the topic area and research
methods required for the thesis and both the time and interest in working with you.
Seek the director’s input as you look for the other two members of your Thesis Committee.
Secure their agreement to serve and complete the Thesis Declaration Form. Submit this
form to the Graduate Director who will provide clearance for you to register for COMM
599: Thesis Research and Writing in your last two semesters.
Third Step: Now it’s time to begin research from published sources and to complete preliminary
Work with your Director to put together your Prospectus, which includes the following
(see the department website for other typical formats):
A rationale for your study
A literature review (with complete bibliography) of your topic
A preliminary methods section * An outline of all remaining chapters (typically a
total of 5)
A timeline for completion of all chapters, defense of the thesis, revisions made,
and thesis delivered to Graduate Studies by the deadline.
Set a time for the Prospectus Meeting with your committee. The committee will approve
and/or recommend changes to the plan and will complete the Thesis Prospectus Approval
Fourth Step: Data gathering, interpretation, analysis phase. (Occurs during your final semester.)
Data gathering will vary depending on what sort of research methods you use. Work
with your Director to plan the process.
Whether you “interpret” or not is likewise dependent on your research methods. Work
with your Director on this element.
Analysis of your data should yield conclusions and implications by now as well as
suggestions for further research.
Work with your Director and Committee members, who are likely all reading your draft
chapters as you go along.
Fifth Step: Thesis Defense meeting
Deliver your completed draft thesis to all members of your committee in plenty of
time for them to have read it before the meeting (a minimum of two weeks). Work that
detail out with the Director.
Schedule your defense meeting. Ask that a room equipped with Power Point capability
be reserved. Prepare your presentation carefully. Prepare for questions that will
be asked by the committee.
Revise as necessary.
Actual Last Step: Submit a paper copy of the revised and approved thesis to the Potter College Dean’s
office for the College Reader to review. The reader may require additional edits,
but not to worry. Just do them. You can order bound copies but Graduate Studies requires
all theses to be submitted electronically to the TopSmart repository.