The Master Thesis Project

The Thesis Proposal

Before beginning work on the master thesis project proposal, students are to complete a M.A. Thesis Reading Committee Nomination form (see Forms & Print Materials) and turn it in to the EEB Graduate Program Coordinator, no later than the end of the spring quarter of the first year. Students are to schedule their Thesis Proposal meetings with the EEB Graduate Program Coordinator no later than the fall quarter of the second year. Once the M.A. Thesis Reading Committee approves the thesis project proposal, students may begin work on the thesis manuscript.

The Thesis

The master thesis manuscript must have a general introduction and summarization that gives it coherence as a report on the candidate's research. The master thesis manuscript is submitted to the students’ masters reading committee, defended in a closed oral examination, and presented in a departmental seminar by the end of the second year.

Masters students must submit their Application for the M.A. Degree form (see Forms & Print Materials) to the EEB Graduate Program Coordinator by the beginning of the quarter that they wish to graduate.

Students must submit their master thesis manuscript to their M.A. Thesis Reading Committee at least 30 days before the closed defense meeting (scheduled with the EEB Graduate Program Coordinator). It is recommended that students negotiate expectations with their committee for when comments on the thesis will be provided by at that time. Ideally, major concerns about the work should be shared with the student and advisor before the defense meeting, so that the defense is not the first time the student hears about problems that will require major revision. All members of the student's M.A. Thesis Reading Committee should be in attendance at the closed defense meeting.  The external member of the committee may participate remotely, if their attendance would constitute financial or other hardship.

There are no formal rules governing the closed thesis defense.  However, to pass the defense it is required that all members agree that the thesis as written meets the standards of the University and Department.  If the Committee determines that the thesis meets its standards, at that time the Committee, with the exception of the Chair, may sign the title page of the student's Masters thesis. If the committee determines that the thesis does not meet the standards, within one week the committee must produce a written document that lists the deficiencies and indicates a timeline for correcting the deficiencies.  If the thesis ultimately does not gain the committee’s approval the student will be dismissed from the program.  All dismissals will be reviewed by EEB-GAC. 

Finally, a formal, public research seminar will be presented by the student. This seminar should be scheduled with the EEB Graduate Program Coordinator for the regular time slot when possible, and may not be scheduled for less than a week after the closed defense meeting. It is important to leave enough time before the public seminar for the student to make changes to the thesis manuscript that are requested by the committee.

The M.A. Thesis Reading Committee Chair may sign the title sheet only after the research has been presented in a public seminar.


There is no requirement for publication but it is highly recommended that at least one thesis chapter be submitted as a paper to a refereed journal for publication by the time students defend their thesis projects.