Master’s Degree Thesis
The primary purpose of the Charisma University’s Master’s thesis requirement is to demonstrate the graduate student’s capacity and ability to conduct research in his or her field. The University has set the following guidelines for graduate students writing Master’s theses to complete their degree. Each student should work closely with her or his advisor to come up with a thesis project of high standards.
The Thesis Advisor and the Reader
The thesis advisor will guide the Master’s student. It is the student’s responsibility to consult with his/her Dean and obtain the agreement of a member to serve in this capacity. Basically, the thesis advisor must be a Faculty member of the Master’s degree program under which the project is to be completed. The student can make alternate arrangements, but this is only by approval of the applicable Dean and the Program Director. After the consultation with the thesis advisor, the student should choose a second reader (any member of the graduate faculty). He or she must provide the second reader a draft of his or her work following a strict timetable so that the student can incorporate criticisms and suggestions made by the second reader into the thesis.
Choosing a Thesis Topic
The initial and arguably the most important step in completing a thesis is how to choose a thesis topic. The thesis advisor guides the Master’s student in selecting which thesis subject and problem to work on. The student should choose a topic that is of such intense and direct interest to him or her so that enthusiasm is maintained even in times of extreme pressure and adversity. The graduate student, however, should realize that there are various possible subjects that are highly suitable. It is always a mistake to spend too much time finding the “optimum thesis topic”. In addition, the research topic must give the student an opportunity to learn not only about the subject being investigated, but also about the proper research methods used. The thesis topic should not be so remote from the student’s field of special training; since acquiring the necessary background can result in an excessive delay. Also, the research topic should add, however modestly, to the professional knowledge in the chosen field. After choosing the topic to focus on, the student is required to submit the “Thesis Subject” form, which describes the general topic and problem of the thesis. The thesis director and the thesis advisor should sign this form. At this time, the student should have already identified the proposed second reader. The student then submits to the thesis director an outline of the thesis and the thesis proposal, usually a draft of the first chapter. While the University does not require minimum length for the proposal, it should contain adequate details to clearly define and justify the research problem, as well as the proposed research plan. The student may include preliminary results if available. At this time, the student should have already shown the second reader the general scope of the project and asked the reader to discuss the outline with him or her. If the reader approves of the thesis outline and proposal, the student then proceeds to writing the thesis.
Writing the First Draft
The student must make sure that the thesis reflects the guidance of the advisor. There is no minimum length for the thesis, but it should contain comprehensive detail to clearly define and justify the research problem and the significance of the study, present a comprehensive literature review, discuss the research design and methodology used, as well as the analysis of the results, conclusions, and practical and theoretical recommendations. While the University expects the Master’s thesis to contribute to the body of knowledge in the chosen field, the student should also emphasize the competent application of the research design and methodology. The thesis must use the most current edition of Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association format in typeface, headings, number of pages, and spacing. The referencing and citation style as well as the use of graphs, table, figures, and photos should follow the APA guidelines. The student advisor and thesis readers should carefully consult and rigorously adhere to the guidelines set by the APA. The student should not use other handbooks, except with the permission of the thesis advisor. If a thesis is not prepared in accordance with the latest APA version, the advisor will return the thesis unread and ask the student to correct in-text citations, reference lists, and other matters regarding formatting before the thesis reader starts reading and examining the manuscript. Students are expected to uphold high standards of research ethics, including honesty and integrity in coding, collecting, and analyzing data. The Master’s thesis must be an original work. Plagiarism is considered an academic crime. It constitutes grounds for failing the master’s; the University may apply more serious sanctions if circumstances permit them. It is the responsibility of the student to understand the dangers of plagiarism and why they should avoid it. In order to avoid plagiarism, the University strictly requires the students to use the APA style of documentation, requiring the proper use of the author-date method of documentation. All references used in the text must be included in the reference list found at the end of the manuscript.
The Final Draft
Advisor reports to the Graduate Office about progress made by the student on the thesis and the general quality of his or her work. The student submits the final draft to the thesis advisor. He or she should have identified the third reader by this time. The thesis advisor then sends copies and thesis evaluation forms to the second and third readers. They either approve or disapprove the copy of the thesis depending on the agreement within the Committee. If disapproved, the student needs to revise the thesis until it meets the standards of the Committee.
Once the Thesis Committee deems that the student is prepared to defend his or her work, the advisor will complete the oral defense form, indicating the defense teleconference date and those invited, including the committee members, faculty members and Master’s students in the appropriate department. In the oral defense, the graduate student participates in a real-time conference with the committees and other guests. The telephone conference call is the standard manner of conferencing. On the day of the oral defense, the teleconference company establishes the conference connection and tape-records the proceedings. During the oral defense, Thesis Committee members present focus questions related to the research. The presentation of each focus question should take about one minute. The master’s student will reply to each question. He or she responds in five minutes. Committee members are allowed to give follow-up questions to the student. Each follow-up question should take about one minute for presentation. The student replies to each follow-up question in not more than three minutes. Under special circumstances, alternative methods of oral defense are more appropriate than telephone conference. The thesis adviser can arrange acceptable alternatives such as videoconferences or electronic chat room, rapid exchanges of e-mail, or face-to-face conferences. Under very rare conditions, oral defense of the thesis may be completed by fax or post.
The Master’s thesis serves as a demonstration of capacity of the student to conduct original research. The thesis advisor shall evaluate the complete thesis submitted for assessment. As applicable, such factors as the student’s independent contribution as well as his or her ability to work on schedule may be an important ground in the evaluation of the thesis. The thesis advisor submits in writing a statement with a proposal for a final grade. The thesis advisor, when preparing the report, may also request statements from the instructor. In cases where the advisor has proposed the grade of “Excellent”, “Satisfactory”, or “Fail”, the Thesis Committee shall consult another University faculty or adjunct professor knowledgeable in the field when deciding on the student’s grade.