QERM: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

Degree Programs

Master's Degree Thesis

Students must select a thesis research topic and develop it in consultation with his or her supervisory committee chair and committee. The research project should be designed for completion, together with other program requirements, within a two- to three-year period. The thesis should provide evidence of the student's ability to carry out independent investigations and to present the results in a clear and systematic form.

Master's Degree Thesis Proposal

A student is expected to submit a thesis proposal to their supervisory committee before the end of the 5th quarter of study (winter quarter of year 2) and before beginning substantive thesis research. The proposal provides evidence of the student’s readiness to carry out the research, and also clarifies the expectations of both the student and committee as to the final content of the thesis.

The objective of a master's thesis proposal is to ensure a definite plan for the work to be done. Once approved by the supervisory committee, it becomes an informal contract between the student and the committee. In addition, a thesis proposal serves as:

  • A basis for discussions between student and committee regarding experimental design, data analysis, and focus of the coursework

  • A clear statement of the amount of effort anticipated to produce an acceptable thesis.

While the thesis proposal serves as an agreement between student and committee, both parties also must recognize that flexibility is needed to include later changes as experiments may fail and new opportunities may arise.

Master's Degree Thesis Proposal Format

The thesis proposal should follow the general features of a research proposal. A typical format is as follows:

  • Introduction: General background, importance of the subject area.

  • Objective: A concise statement of the purpose or objective of the project; this should flow logically from the introduction and be short and specific.

  • Methods: General plan, specific methods, sampling or experimental design, duration, and projected procedure for data analysis; these methods should be appropriate for directly addressing the purpose or objective.

  • Results: Results of theoretical investigations, experiments, field sampling, computer simulations, data analyses, etc. should be clearly stated.

  • Interpretation: How will the results be interpreted? There should be explicitly stated inferences that would be drawn from all outcomes; outcomes that cannot be interpreted imply imprecise objectives or inappropriate methods.

  • Significance: Why is this investigation justified? What is the scientific or practical contribution?

  • Timeline/Workplan: The timeline helps to assess whether the proposed researach is feasible as planned and establishes milestones. Periods when there are activities which could slow progress should be highlighted when accounted for when selecting milestones. The timeline should also indicate when likely outputs (e.g., scientific paper and reports) will be produced.

The length of the written thesis proposal should be the minimum needed to do adequately address these topics; 8-10 pages including references would be appropriate. The intent is to write the proposal early in the degree program. If written too late, it will begin to resemble the thesis in size and scope, and its primary purpose will be lost.

Thesis Proposal Approval Form

The committee certifies that they have reviewed and approved the student's thesis proposal by signing the Master's Thesis Proposal form. A copy of the form and thesis proposal should be forwarded to the QERM Graduate Program Advisor, who will then forward it on to the Graduate Program Coordinator for approval.

Request for M.S. Final Examination

The student must provide a near-to-final draft of the thesis, which has been reviewed and approved by the committee chair, to all members of the committee approximately four weeks prior to the Final Examination. After reading the draft, the supervisory committee signs off on the Request for Final Examination form. Completion of this form verifies that the committee has read an entire near-to-final draft of the thesis and concurs that the student is ready for the final examination.

The final draft of the thesis takes place after the final examination, incorporating changes suggested by the committee.

For complete instructions on submitting a thesis refer to the Graduate School's policy and procedures for submitting Electronic Thesis/Dissertation (ETD).

Master's Degree Request

In addition to the QERM Request for Final Examination form completed by the supervisory committee, the student must submit the online Graduate School Master’s Degree Request during the quarter he or she expects to complete the degree requirements. The filing of this online request is the responsibility of the student. After the online request is submitted the student’s record will be reviewed by the Graduate School and QERM program to determine that all degree requirements have been met.

If requirements for the master's degree are not completed during the quarter of the initial application, the Master’s Degree Request will become void and the student must complete a new request the quarter in which the degree program is to be completed.

Final Examination

The student, in consultation with the committee chair, arranges the time and place of the Final Examination. The student coordinates the date and time with supervisory committee members and then notifies the QERM Graduate Program Assistant (GPA) who will assist with reserving a conference room and publicizing the public seminar. It is recommended that students schedule their final exam at least 4 weeks in advance of the date, but no less than two and a half weeks before the end of the quarter.

The student reports on his or her research at a public seminar that is followed by a private oral examination by the supervisory committee. The seminar and oral examination are generally scheduled consecutively on the same day.

Results of the Final Examination must be reported returning the signed Master's Degree Warrant QERM Graduate Program Advisor no later than the last day of the quarter (defined as the last day of exams) in which the student expects to receive the degree. A minimum of two committee members must be present for the Final Examination to take place, although all members of the supervisory committee must certify the results. If the examination is not satisfactory, the committee may recommend to the Dean of the Graduate School that the student be allowed to take another examination after an interval of study.

Any corrections of the thesis are completed after the Final Examination. If the final version of the thesis is submitted after the end of the quarter, then the degree will be conferred the following quarter. The student must either register for a minimum of two credits for that quarter or submit the Graduate Registration Waiver fee as outlined below.

For complete instructions on submitting a thesis refer to the Graduate School's policy and procedures for submitting Electronic Thesis/Dissertation (ETD).

Graduate Registration Waiver Fee

The $250 Graduate Registration Waiver Fee is an optional fee paid in lieu of registration.  It is available to qualifying students for a 2 week period directly following the quarter in which all Graduate School and graduate program degree requirements are met.  Qualifying students who pay this fee will graduate in the quarter following the fee payment period. 


Students who completed all degree requirements but needed additional time to format the thesis or dissertation (project papers are not included)

NOTE: This option may have an effect on the grace period for student loans becoming due; students should check with their lenders for registration requirements before utilizing this option in lieu of registration.


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