T H E M A S T E R' S T H E S I S:
F I N I S H I N G U P
This document is intended to map out what you need to do to complete the thesis process, once you and your committee have agreed that your thesis has reached final form and is ready to be defended.
To meet Graduate School requirements, you will need to have applied for graduation at the beginning of the term in which you plan to graduate, which is typically the semester in which you will be defending your thesis.
The Thesis Defense
You and your entire committee will need to agree upon a date and time for the thesis defense. Typically these are scheduled between 10.00am and 2.00pm, and last one hour.
After determining a suitable date, you or (more typically) your thesis advisor will notify the Department's Director of Graduate Studies of the proposed thesis defense; the Director will then reserve a room for the defense. (Defenses are commonly held either in seminar classrooms or in conference rooms in the offices of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, on the 3rd floor of Peck Hall.) Thesis defenses are open to the public, and may be attended by the Director of Graduate Studies, the Department Chair, other interested faculty, and other graduate students. In fact, you may want to consider attending a defense sometime before your own, to better get a feel for the process; talk with your committee chair about this.
A typical thesis defense will begin with a brief (10 to 15 minute) presentation by the candidate of her or his research findings; this is essentially a summary of the thesis, although it may cover other topics as well. This is followed, usually, by a question-and-answer period for the remainder of the hour.
Two Critical Forms
Once your thesis advisor has notified the Director of Graduate Studies, the Director will (after reserving a room) prepare a "Summary of Completion Form" (see below) and give it to your thesis advisor. This is a critical piece of paperwork.
You should also obtain, fill in, and print out the "Thesis Approval Form," which is required by the Graduate School to be part of your submitted final thesis draft. You will want to print this form on the same high-quality "bond" paper on which you plan to print (or copy) your thesis, per the Graduate School's requirement. Take the form to your defense and, if all goes well, ask your committee members to sign it when they sign the "Summary of Completion" form. This will save you the trouble of trying to track down your committee members again later. The "Thesis Approval Form" may be downloaded from the Graduate Studies and Research website's Electronic Forms
Please Note: two weeks before your scheduled thesis defense, you must place a copy of your completed thesis in the English Department office, where it is available for review by English faculty and students. One copy of the thesis (on standard quality paper) is due in the Graduate Records office one week prior to the end of finals week; this copy will be checked for format and you will be notified of the need for any changes. For more on Graduate School formatting requirements, see below.
Once a defense is successfully completed, the committee will sign the "Summary of Completion Form" which the Director of Graduate Studies will have previously filled out and given to your committee chair. This form, which is critical in the bureaucratic processing of degree completion, must be returned to the Director of Graduate Studies for a signature and further processing. The "Thesis Approval Form" should also be signed at this time.
It is fairly common for students to be instructed, at the defense, to make further minor changes to the thesis. Once those emendations are made, confirm their satisfactory completion with your committee or committee chair before submitting the finished thesis (two copies: one on high-quality "bond" paper and the other on standard quality paper) to the Graduate School. Be sure to read carefully and follow scrupulously the "Guidelines for the Preparation of a Thesis" when preparing and submitting your thesis.
Once the final thesis is submitted to and accepted by the Graduate School, the thesis part of your M. A. program is complete. Final granting of the degree will follow the resolving of any issues noted on your graduation check, including the completion of any outstanding requirements (such as a DE grade from ENG 599).