Thesis and Professional Paper

A thesis, required in many master’s degree programs, is the culmination of the student’s independent scholarship or creative achievement in some branch of learning or the arts. The professional paper or project may be prepared in conjunction with a research class or seminar or with certain off-campus activities approved by the committee and terminating in a written presentation which demonstrates the student’s ability to prepare a bibliography, gather data, use original source material, draw conclusions, and present the material in a form which shows adequate command of the English language.

Prospectus approval is required by the Research Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School is required prior to the student beginning research for a thesis, even when Institutional Review Board (IRB) authorization is not required. However, the prospectus for a professional paper, if prepared, does not need to be filed in the Graduate School.  Both require Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) certification and IRB or IACUC approval if human subjects or animals are involved.

To secure semester credit hours for work done on the thesis or professional paper the student must register for this work.  When "Thesis" or "Professional Paper" appears on the schedule, it is counted as three credit hours in determining both load, tuition, and fees.  Although no more than six semester credit hours can be earned for the writing of the thesis, the candidate must re-enroll in the thesis course until the writing is completed.

Only an officially registered student may hold conferences with faculty members concerning the preparation of a thesis or professional paper. This rule applies both when the student is in actual residence and when the student is not in residence but receiving consultation through conferences or correspondence. This rule does not apply to those preliminary conferences held before the thesis subject has been selected. Registration for thesis or professional paper in one term is good for that term only and does not extend to the next term.

Enrolled graduate students may use the computer and research consulting services of the Center for Research Design and Analysis (CRDA) in the preparation of professional papers, theses, and dissertations. The center also provides assistance with qualitative and quantitative research designs. Students may also access the support services of the Pioneer Center for Student Excellence and the Write Site.

The grade of PR is assigned to indicate a professional paper or thesis is in progress. A student writing a thesis for six semester credit hours is given CR (Credit) for the first enrollment (5983), usually the completion of the prospectus and PR (In Progress) for all subsequent enrollments (5993) until the last enrollment. At that time CR is given again. A student writing a professional paper for three semester credit hours is assigned the grade of PR for all enrollments except the last one and then is assigned the grade of CR for the final enrollment.

Submission of the student's thesis must be completed no later than the filing date listed in the Graduate School's Graduation Deadlines. Once the thesis has been reviewed by the Graduate Reader/Editor and Sr. Graduate Analyst and recommended corrections have been completed, a digital submission and upload must be made. A bound copy at the expense of the student, may be required by the student's major department.

All theses are uploaded to ProQuest. Students should consult the Thesis and Dissertation Fee Sheet, posted on the Graduate School website  prior to turning in their thesis. Copyrighting, which remains optional, may be secured during the submission process for an additional fee.  Details concerning the abstracts, microfilming, copyrighting, and their fees are available in the Graduate School.

The Graduate School publications "Guide to the Preparation and Processing of Dissertations, Theses, and Professional Papers" and "Formatting Navigator" should be consulted for additional information concerning the thesis or professional paper. (See General Requirements and Regulations for Master's Degrees and Committees)