Thesis or Non-Thesis
Students pursuing M.S. in FNS will select from two alternatives to satisfy the research component of the degree: thesis or directed research (non-thesis). The choice of thesis or non-thesis directed research is made in consultation with the student’s Master’s Advisory Committee based on the individual’s educational training and goals, and is declared in the Program of Study form.
The primary objective of a thesis research component is to expand the existing knowledge base. The thesis must be a well-reasoned and original contribution to knowledge in the field of study, and provide evidence of high scholarly achievement. The student’s thesis examining committee is the primary source of guidance in the planning and preparation of the thesis. Instructions for preparation of the thesis are available from the Graduate School.
A minimum of 6 hours of thesis credit must be completed over at least two separate academic terms. The Program of Study form must have been filed with the GPC before students can enroll in thesis credits. A thesis proposal can be submitted and presented to the student’s Examining Committee for approval during or afterthe semester in which the student is enrolled in at least 1 hour of thesis credit. The thesis defense cannot be scheduled before the proposal is approved, and may not take place in the same semester during which the proposal is presented. Note that the entire summer months are considered as one semester.
The thesis defense must be scheduled no later than 14 days prior to the intended date by submitting GS7 – Authorization for Final Oral/Written Examination form to the Graduate School. The thesis defense can be scheduled when the student has completed all other degree requirements including 6 hours of thesis credit, or the student is expected to complete them in the semester during which the defense takes place. The student must be enrolled in 3 or more graduate hours in the semester of the final exam (or 1 or more hours if the defense is during summer).
A final thesis draft must be provided to the Examining Committee no later than 7 days prior to the scheduled defense date. The Master’s thesis defense is public; however, the audience may be asked to leave during Committee deliberations. Successful completion of Master’s thesis defense constitutes passing the Master’s Final Exam.
Students who choose the non-thesis option can complete the research requirement through directed research. A minimum of 3 hours of non-thesis directed research credit must be completed. Before students can enroll in non-thesis directed research, the Program of Study form must have been approved by the student’s Master’s Advisory Committee and filed with the GPC. At that time, the student’s Master’s Advisory Committee must agree upon the faculty supervisor and a tentative topic for the student’s directed research. The faculty supervisor for the directed research will provide a syllabus, which describes specific expectations including a measureable outcome or product.
The research product for non-thesis students can take one of the four forms:
- A poster or oral presentation accepted and scheduled for a professional conference at the state level or beyond*
- An article manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed journal**
- A grant proposal submitted to an external funding agency**
- A presentation at a departmental or university-wide research event*
* Student must be an author andpresenter. Presentations must include clear objective statement, background literature, description of methodology, summary of findings, and discussion. Proof of presentation along with the presentation slides or a legible image of the poster should be made available to the Advisory Committee. Presentations at the university-level 3MT (Three-minute thesis) competition do not count. Presentations for credit in another course do not count.
** Student must be an author (of the manuscript) or co-investigator (of the grant proposal). Proof of submission along with the manuscript/proposal draft should be made available to the Advisory Committee. Submission of an abstract or a paper submitted for a conference proceeding does not count.
Non-thesis students should consult with the Chair of the Advisory Committee to schedule the date by which the Committee will examine their research products and documents of proof. GS7 – Authorization for Final Oral/Written Examination form should be submitted to the Graduate School no later than 14 days prior to this date. For non-thesis students, GS7 form may not be submitted until the student has completed all other degree requirements including 3 hours of non-thesis directed research, or the student is expected to complete them in the semester during which the final exam takes place.