Master's Project & Thesis Requirements


A minimum of 6 hours of Thesis credit, IP&T 699R, or Project credit, IP&T 698R, is required for a Master's degree. You should register for Thesis credit (IP&T 699R), if you plan on doing a research, measurement, or theoretical study for your culminating Master's project. You should register for Project credit (IP&T 698R), if you plan on doing a development or evaluation project. Most Master's students conduct a development project. An approved master's project or thesis can be used to fill one of the Basic Project requirements for the IP&T Ph.D. program.

This document will orient you to the steps you should follow to complete your Master's Project or Thesis and graduate from the Instructional Psychology & Technology Master's program. Since it is only an overview of the critical steps, you will also need to refer to specific documents mentioned in this description for additional details. These documents and forms are available from the Department Secretary or on the IP&T web site.

Step 1: Finish Preparation Courses

You may begin reviewing literature and conceptualizing your Master's project or thesis at any time in the program. However, it is recommended that your project or thesis serve as the culminating activity of your graduate program. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you complete the course work outlined in your Program of Study before registering for project or thesis credit.

Step 2: Form Master's Advisory Committee

Composition of Committee. As you begin to formulate the topic and thrust of your Master's project or thesis you should reassess the composition of your advisory committee. You are in no way obligated to work with the committee members or chair whom initially signed your Program of Study form. You should make sure that the interests and expertise of the faculty members on your committee coincide with your Master's project efforts. Meet with your advisor committee chair to discuss whether or not you should make any adjustments to the composition of your committee. Changing one or more of your committee members involves completion of the Request for Program of Study Change, Form 3b [PDF]. You will need to obtain the appropriate signatures and return it to the Department Secretary.

Roles of Committee Members. The chair of your committee should be responsible for providing the major input on your Master's project efforts. You should develop a very close working relationship with your chair from the inception of your Master's project through the write-up stages. You should also expect to meet individually on various occasions with the other members of your advisory committee to receive input on the design, instruments, materials, data analysis or drafts of your report.

Step 3: Sign up for Master's Project or Thesis Credit

You should register for Master's Project (IP&T 698R) or Thesis Credit (IP&T 699R) the semester(s) you plan on working on your project. You must complete a total of 6 hours of Master's project or thesis credit in order to graduate. You may wish to sign up for credit over a period of one or two semesters, as you prepare your prospectus, conduct your project and write your report. Also, it is important to keep in mind that you must be registered for at least 2 hours of project credit or other program coursework and/or pay the equivalent registration fee the semester you plan to graduate. Master's project or thesis registration must be done by an Add/Drop card signed by your advisory committee chair.

Step 4: Identify a Project/Thesis Topic

Identifying a good project/thesis topic may require considerable thought, study and consultation with members of your advisory committee. First, you will need to decide on the type of project you would like to do. Most Master's students conduct a development project. However, evaluation, measurement, research or theoretical projects are also acceptable. You should select the type of project you want to do based on your interests, expertise and career goals. In some instances, your project might be an outgrowth of a previous course project or internship. In such a case, you should consult with your committee to ensure that the additional level of effort is defensible for Project credit. It is not permissible to be awarded course or internship credit and project credit for the same activity unless the total time devoted to the activity is commensurate with the total amount of credit being awarded. It is recommended that you review previous students' project reports that are available online and in the department conference room to obtain an idea of the range and scope of acceptable projects.

Step 5: Prepare Prospectus

The next major stage in preparing your project/thesis is to write a prospectus to be approved by your advisory committee and the Department Chair or Graduate Coordinator. This is a crucial stage because you must make critical decisions concerning the scope, content and design of your project/thesis. An approved prospectus becomes a contract between you and your committee. If you then execute your project/thesis in accordance with your prospectus, committee members may not subsequently add additional requirements.

In order to minimize wasted effort, you should prepare your prospectus in stages. Begin by discussing your project/thesis ideas with your advisory committee chair and other members. After they give you the go ahead, prepare a written mini-prospectus of three to ten pages in length that outlines the problem or topic you want to address and a brief description of how you plan to address it. When you receive favorable feedback on your mini-prospectus from your committee members, you are ready to prepare the formal prospectus. Consult the appropriate project Guidelines for Preparing a Prospectus for a Project or Dissertation, for a detailed outline of the prospectus document. A well-prepared prospectus can be included as part of your final project report. Consult with your advisor and committee members frequently as you prepare your prospectus. Submit early drafts to your chair for review and feedback. Expect to iterate through multiple drafts.

Step 6: Defend and Submit Prospectus

Once you have completed your prospectus and you and your chair feel it is ready for formal review, you should submit a copy to your committee for review. Arrange a meeting with the committee to defend your prospectus at least two weeks before the desired date. In this meeting, members of the committee may ask clarifying questions or request changes in the prospectus. Once the members of the advisory committee are satisfied with your prospectus (this may occur after the meeting and subsequent changes have been made) you should have the committee members sign the Thesis or Dissertation Prospectus Approval Form [PDF | Word] and submit this to the Department Secretary along with a copy of your prospectus. You should not begin any data collection for your project/thesis until your committee and the Department Chair have approved your prospectus.

Step 7: Obtain IRB Approval

If your project/thesis involves the use of human subjects, you will need to apply for IRB (Institutional Review Board for human subjects) approval. The approval process requires that you study an IRB Tutorial, pass an IRB exam, and submit an IRB proposal and application. You cannot submit an IRB application until your advisory committee approves your prospectus. Further information of the IRB review process may be accessed at the ORCA web site.

Step 8: Apply for Graduation

During the first month of the semester you plan to graduate, you should submit the Application for Graduation, Form 8a, to the Office of Graduate Studies no later than the deadlines listed on the current Graduation Deadlines for Graduate Students. You should have completed or be currently registered for all of the course work outlined on you Program of Study form before applying for graduation.

Step 9: Conduct Project/Thesis Study

You are now ready to conduct your project/thesis study as outlined in your prospectus. You should continue to frequently consult with your advisory committee during this stage.

Step 10: Write Project/Thesis Report

The format and content of your project/thesis report may take on various forms depending on the nature of your project/thesis work and the recommendations of your advisory committee. Sample outlines are available for Development, Evaluation, Measurement, and Research Projects.

In preparing your project/thesis manuscript you should carefully follow the style guidelines outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. You should consult the APA Guidelines web site prepared by the IP&T Department that outlines some of the ways to avoid the most common errors found in student projects/theses and enumerates some variations from the guidelines recommended for projects, theses and dissertations. You should also access the Microsoft Word Heading Styles Tutorial on how to use styles in Microsoft Word to facilitate the implementation of the APA heading guidelines. This tutorial includes a link to a Microsoft Word template document that includes all the necessary styles already defined. Using heading styles will facilitate electronic submission of your project/thesis to the Library (see step 15 below).

Consult the document, Minimum Standards for Submitting Dissertations, Theses, or Selected Projects [PDF] for critical information on format and style requirements, sample title, copyright, approval, abstract, and acknowledgments pages.

Step 11: Submit Draft for Review and Make Revisions

You should submit a draft of your project/thesis report to your advisory committee chair for review then make any recommended revisions. It is common to iterate through multiple drafts in order to produce a polished report. Your chair may recommend that you also submit drafts to other members of your advisory committee. Your committee members should not take more than two weeks to review each draft and provide feedback, unless they notify you of extenuating circumstances.

Step 12: Hold Preliminary Orals

When you and your advisory committee chair feel that you have a polished draft of your project/thesis report, you should schedule a Preliminary Oral Examination with your advisory committee. You should submit a copy of your polished report to your committee members for their review two weeks prior to the Preliminary Oral. During the Examination your committee should recommend any needed revisions and determine if you are ready to schedule the Final Oral Examination.

Step 13: Schedule and Hold Final Oral Examination

Schedule the Final Oral. Once you and your advisory committee feel that you are ready for your Final Oral Examination, you should schedule it with the Department Secretary by submitting the Department Scheduling of Final Oral Examination (Master’s and Doctoral) Form 8c. A copy of your report and Form 8c must be submitted to the Department at least two weeks before the actual examination. Interested University faculty and students are encouraged to review your report prior to the examination.

Nature of Exam. Any interested member of the University community may attend your Final Oral Exam. Although the format may vary, the purpose of the Oral Exam is to defend your project/thesis. Generally you will be asked to make a short presentation of your study and findings after which members of your committee may ask specific questions about the study. Your committee may also ask questions concerning any of the coursework on your Program of Study. You may want to consult the chair of your advisory committee prior to the exam to find out about the format your chair intends to follow. An oral exam may take from one to four hours, but typically lasts about two hours.

Results of Exam. You may either "pass," "pass with qualification," "recess," or "fail" the examination. The most common result is to "pass with qualification" which means that you will be required to make some revisions to your report and/or strengthen some limited subject matter area(s). "Recess" means that a second and final oral examination may be formally scheduled no sooner than one month after the recessed examination. "Fail" means that the degree program is terminated.

Step 14: Obtain Final Approvals and Signatures

Make any final revisions to your report and obtain committee approval signatures.

Submit your report for review and approval to the IP&T Department Graduate Coordinator and Department Chair.

Submit your report for review and approval to the Dean of the McKay School of Education. The signature pages should be printed on 24 lb. bond paper while the rest of the report can be printed on regular paper. Do not punch holes in the signature pages.

You may anticipate some additional minor revisions based on these reviews. Each of these reviews may take several days to two weeks to complete.

Step 15: Submit Electronic Thesis or Dissertation (ETD)

The IP&T Department requires that all project/thesis reports be submitted electronically. Consult the ETD web site for detailed instructions for electronic submission. As part of this submission process you must submit Approval for Submission of Dissertation, Thesis, or Selected Project Form 8d, Part 1 & 2 [PDF] to the Library and pay relevant fees. All members of your advisory committee, the Department Graduate Coordinator and the McKay School of Education Graduate Administrator must sign Form 8d. You may use this form to request bound copies of your project/thesis report. Your committee chair and the Department chair may waive their bound copies on this same form.

Step 16: Graduation

You are invited to participate in the University commencement and convocation exercises, but you are not required to do so. You may indicate your intention to attend graduation exercises on Form 8a, Application for Graduation. Your diploma will be mailed to you eight to twelve weeks following commencement. The Office of Graduate Studies will furnish a letter of completion on request.