Graduate Student Handbook

7.3 The Thesis

The thesis is an integral part of the MS degree, allowing the student the opportunity to investigate a topic of personal interest and importance to the field, and to integrate and synthesize from the knowledge and skills presented in the program. 

The details concerning Graduate School policies regarding the thesis, including format, typing, deadlines, etc., are available online.

In general, a thesis requires:

  • Identification of a topic area and an advisor (in the Division/JProgram) willing to guide the preparation of the thesis;
  • Formation of an examining committee; composed of at least two CPH faculty members, including the advisor—both committee members must have M or P Graduate Faculty status in the College of Public Health and at least one must have a primary appointment in the College;
  • Where appropriate, selection of a third member of the examining committee, who may be from outside the CPH;
  • Written and oral presentation of the thesis prospectus to the examining committee for approval (see Appendix J);
  • Completion of the thesis described in the approved prospectus;
  • Satisfactory defense of the thesis before the examining committee, and
  • Electronic submission of an approved (advisor-signed) copy of the full thesis and abstract to the Graduate School.

The student has primary responsibility for topic selection and formation of the Master’s Examination Committee.  It usually will be the case that the proposed topic area will make clear who could serve as an advisor, and the committee will be formed by consultation between the student and advisor.  However, the student must be aware that a faculty member may refuse to serve as advisor of committee member for a topic that is thought to be unworkable or that lies outside the faculty member’s area(s) of expertise.

The thesis prospectus sets out the plans and methods of the proposed thesis research.  It ordinarily includes:  a) discussion of the background of the problem and an introductory survey of the relevant literature;  b) a statement of the scope of the proposed work, including how the study adds to the stock of knowledge;  c) a statement of the hypotheses or objectives of the study; and  d) a discussion of the data to be collected and the methods to be used in their analysis.