You must complete a thesis as the final requirement for the master's degree. The thesis must make a contribution to the discipline of sociology and be considered initial training for future professional activity. For example, a theoretical thesis might compare theories or theorists not previously treated, or it might develop a theory or frame of reference that does not now exist in the discipline. An empirical thesis might put results of original sociological research into a meaningful theoretical context or replicate prior research in a way which enlarges the scope or improves the quality of the previous research. Six hours of credit are earned for completion of the master's thesis. As you conduct your thesis research, you may find the Graduate College's support programs for students at the master's degree level to be useful.
It is your responsibility to choose your major advisor and secure permission from that individual to become an advisee. Your major advisor must be a full-time member of the graduate faculty. Since your major advisor will guide you in the preparation of your thesis, you should select a person whose interests in sociology are pertinent to your major interests. You should see your major advisor at least once a semester to report progress and to be sure you are meeting deadlines and other degree requirements. Your major advisor will supervise your thesis research and help you appoint a thesis committee.
Your thesis committee must consist of a minimum of three members: your major advisor who serves as chair, and two additional graduate faculty members. One member must be from the Department of Sociology; the other may be from outside the department. You may request additional members from sociology or from other departments. Once you and your major advisor settle on a thesis committee, you should complete a committee appointment form . Changes in your thesis committee or major advisor require the submission of another committee appointment form.
An application for permission to elect master's thesis hours (SOC 7000) is required. Following your first enrollment in master's thesis hours, you must enroll in SOC 7000 each fall and spring semesters continuously until all your thesis requirements are completed and approved. If you are unable to complete your thesis within the first six hours of registration, you must continue to enroll; however, only six hours of SOC 7000 will count toward meeting program requirements for your degree. If you plan to graduate during the Summer I or Summer II semesters, you will need to be enrolled during that semester.
You are required to write and defend a master's thesis prospectus by the time you complete 21 hours in the master's program. Your prospectus must include:
Your prospectus must be developed in concert with your major advisor and approved by your thesis committee at a formal prospectus meeting prior to the initiation of your research. The master's thesis prospectus approval form must be signed by all committee members and returned to the graduate advisor for inclusion in your file. The master's thesis research will be carried out under the supervision of your major advisor and the thesis committee, with whom you should have regular and frequent consultations.
In the development of your prospectus, you and your major advisor should create a contract. This contract should specify: (1) the schedule of work to be completed and distributed for thesis committee review; (2) ample turn-around times for committee review and your response to their comments and suggestions; and (3) a schedule for meetings with your major professor and committee members. While this contract may be altered from time to time by the uncertainties of the research process, it should be considered a commitment by all parties.
If your thesis involves human subjects, you must have prior approval of your research proposal by the Human Subjects Institutional Review Board (HSIRB) before data collection can begin. Policy guidelines and application forms are available from the Office of Vice President for Research.
Following unanimous approval of your thesis by your thesis committee, you must present an oral defense of your thesis to your thesis committee and other interested persons. An application for graduation precipitates an audit that informs you of any problems that might delay the scheduling of your oral thesis defense. This application should be completed and submitted to the Registrar's Office two semesters prior to the date of your anticipated graduation. The oral thesis defense can be scheduled only after the audit is complete and your thesis committee has approved your thesis for defense. A two hour block of time must be reserved for the defense. The Director of Graduate Studies should be informed of the date and time of the oral defense at least two weeks in advance and announcements that give the date and time of your oral defense must be prominently posted in public areas in the department. Prior to the time scheduled for your oral defense, you must secure two copies of a Thesis Approval Form appropriate to the size of your committee from the Graduate College website. The Thesis Approval Form copies with signatures affixed by the members of your committee must be submitted to the Graduate College along with your thesis.
Following a successful defense and a satisfactory audit from the Registrar's Office (an application for graduation, which should be submitted in the semester prior to your anticipated graduation date, precipitates an audit that informs you of any problems that might delay your graduation), you are responsible for making any corrections or changes directed by your thesis committee and preparing final copies to be submitted to the Graduate College. The Graduate College employs a check-in form for the submission of the thesis which should be followed closely. The Graduate College also maintains a list of deadlines and other important dates, including the deadline for submitting a thesis in order to graduate in a particular semester.
When your thesis receives final approval from the Graduate College, the Dean of the Graduate College will sign the appropriate forms. The original will be forwarded to Waldo Library.