Thesis and Dissertation Requirements
The objective of writing a thesis (Plan A) or professional paper (Plan B) is to demonstrate the ability of a student to complete kinds of tasks he or she will be expected to perform in their professional career. While these typically include novel research, they can also include synthesis or re-evaluation of existing material. In sum, the thesis must demonstrate the ability to independently utilize the scientific method to address questions and hypotheses.
In general, the thesis must be of a quality that is publishable in a peer-reviewed journal of a scientific field relevant to the student’s area of expertise, as judged by the advisory committee or demonstrated by acceptance for publication in such a journal. While there is no length requirement to the Master’s thesis, the thesis must consist of at least one chapter suitable for publication, plus Introductory and Concluding chapters. The professional paper produced by the Plan B (non-thesis) student will be of sufficient quality to demonstrate a high degree of scholarship, as judged by the student’s advisory committee.
The thesis should include note of chapter authorship and journals to which chapters will be submitted. This may be done on the title page or via footnotes, or by including a Preface between the Table of Contents and the introductory chapter.
In general, the Ph.D. dissertation chapters must be of a quality that is publishable in peer-reviewed journals of a scientific field relevant to the student’s area of expertise, as judged by the advisory committee or demonstrated by acceptance for publication in such a journal. While there is no length requirement to the Ph.D. dissertation, the dissertation must consist of at least two chapters suitable for publication, plus Introductory and Concluding chapters. It is expected that the science performed in developing this new knowledge demonstrate scholarship through integration of existing knowledge and creation of new knowledge. Creativity is reflected in the questions, hypotheses, methods, synthesis, and/or applications.
The formatting and other guidelines for the thesis and dissertation are dictated by the Graduate School and must be followed precisely, as indicated on their website:
The ARS Master’s program does not maintain its own requirements for the thesis/dissertation format. Students should consult with their advisor and advisory committee.
Once all requirements have been met, students must submit a Final Review Approval and Notice of Completion form in order to graduate.
- Final Review Approval – Obtain sign-off from advisory committee chair
- Master’s Final Review Approval
- Doctoral Final Review Approval
- Notice of completion – completed form should be submitted after all requirements have been met.
Successfully completing a thesis or dissertation will typically include meeting the following guidelines:
- The first draft of the thesis/dissertation should be provided to the Committee Chair or Major Advisor at least eight weeks prior to the date the thesis is due to the Graduate College. The Advisor will work with the student directly to revise the thesis, which may take several revisions.
- Submit the revised thesis/dissertation to the Committee at least 6 weeks prior to the date the thesis/dissertation is due to the graduate college. The Committee should review the thesis/dissertation and return any comments, criticisms, or suggestions to the student within two weeks.
- The student should carefully and thoroughly address comments made by the Committee and return the revised thesis/dissertation to the Committee four weeks prior to the due date.
- This timeline represents the minimum acceptable time for each step, and can be modified given the consent of the student, committee, and advisor.
- It is possible that individual chapter(s) in the form of publishable journal articles be submitted to the journal whenever they are ready. Generally, these articles would be reviewed by the advising committee prior to final revisions for submission. This will allow the advising committee to provide constructive input, retain their role in student advising and thesis/dissertation review, and prevent surprises later. The individual chapters of the thesis/dissertation can thus be papers designed to be submitted, papers submitted and in review, or papers accepted for publication or published. While publication ahead of the defense is encouraged, it is not expected nor required by ARS. It does allow timely publication of new knowledge.