Illinois State University
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Thesis Option

  The Master's thesis provides one of two means for completing the requirements for the Master's degree.  Those choosing this option will be expected to produce a substantial research work, which serves to integrate a meaningful range of literature and topics in the study of politics.

Students may plan for a thesis from the beginning of their graduate work.  They may begin work with a chosen Coordinator as early as the first semester of their studies, and conduct tentative investigations leading to the choice of a researchable topic.

A student may count up to 6 hours of thesis work toward the 32-hour graduation requirement. Students writing a thesis must register for a minimum of four hours of POL 499.  Before being permitted to register for thesis hours, the student must :  a) complete at least 26 hours of approved coursework, including removal of all Incomplete grades on his/her record ; b) complete and file a Plan of Study that has been approved by the Graduate Director and the Dean of the Graduate School; and c) complete and file a "Proposal for Research" form signed by his/her thesis committee and the Graduate Director.  The thesis committee will ordinarily consist of a committee chairperson and two other faculty members; the chair and at least one other committee member will be members of the Department of Politics and Government faculty.  The major Coordinator will be chairperson of the three-person committee.  Committee members should all be members of the Graduate Faculty. The student will form the thesis committee in consultation with the Graduate Director.

Prior to researching and writing a Master's thesis, the student must draft a thesis proposal .  (The thesis proposal is separate and distinct from the "Proposal for Research" form which must also be completed and filed, see below.)  A thesis proposal is usually 10-12 pages in length, and sets out on paper a number of key elements in the whole process.  These elements include:  (a) the proposed thesis topic and research question(s), (b) a substantial statement explaining why the topic/research question(s) are important and necessary to explore, (c) a review of the relevant academic literature, (d) key concepts to be employed in the course of the research, (e) the research design, including data sources, how you propose to define and measure relevant variables and/or concepts, and any statistical techniques you propose to employ, and (f) an initial bibliography of sources.

Note:  The more coherent , specific , and complete you make your thesis proposal, the easier your tasks will be in researching, drafting, and defending your thesis.

Before students engage in the process of writing the thesis, the Thesis Proposal must be formally approved by the thesis committee following a public defense. Public defense of the Thesis Proposal must be scheduled in the week before the beginning or the first week of the Fall or Spring semester and must occur at least a semester before the Thesis Defense.  Only after approval of the Thesis Proposal by the thesis committee can students register for thesis hours.

The "Proposal for Research" form also must be completed before one can undertake thesis research.  On the form, one must provide a tentative thesis title, the name and signature of the thesis committee chairperson, and the names and signatures of the other committee members.  Once the "Proposal" form is approved by the student's committee, it must be submitted to the Graduate Director and Graduate School.  It should be submitted early in the semester in which completion of the master's degree is expected, according to deadlines published by the Graduate School.

The thesis should be submitted to the three readers in a timely manner , to permit an adequate review, and allow suitable opportunities for needed revisions.   The student should expect to make appropriate revisions in the thesis draft, chapter by chapter, in accordance with the suggestions made by thesis committee members.  The student should also expect to comply with the procedural guidelines set out by the committee chairperson, to facilitate the process of researching, writing, revising, and defending the thesis.

Once the thesis has been tentatively approved by the committee, the thesis will then be submitted to the thesis examiner of the Graduate School.  The examiner will check the thesis to determine whether it is compatible with the selected thesis style and the Guide for Writers of Theses and Dissertations published by the Graduate School.

Following approval by the examiner, the student should file two unbound examination copies of the thesis in the Department of Politics and Government Office.  The student's thesis Coordinator should notify members of the Department that the thesis is available for review, and of the time and place for the thesis defense.  (The thesis defense should be no sooner than seven days after the examination copies are deposited in the Department Office.)

Following the defense, the student should file the original and a copy of the approved thesis in the Graduate School.  The copies should be unbound, and should list any corrections suggested by the committee.  The thesis will be accepted by the Graduate School once the suggested corrections are made.

The student must deposit the thesis in the Graduate School Office at least 10 days before the end of the semester to graduate in that particular semester.

Occasional waivers for the procedural rules noted here are possible, by prior approval of the Graduate Director.  Appeals from the Coordinator's decisions may be taken to the Department of Politics and Government for consideration.

2013-09-12T17:17:20.067-05:00 2013
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