Thesis Proposals

All students should give serious consideration to electing to write a thesis. A thesis involves original research and is a proven method for developing specialized knowledge and skills that can enhance an individual’s expertise within a substantive area of study. A thesis is recommended for students who intend to continue study toward the PhD degree or plan research-related employment. If the thesis option is elected, the student must write the thesis and pass an oral examination on a report of research initiated by the student under the guidance of the major professor. A faculty committee, chaired by the major professor, will evaluate the written report and conduct an oral examination of the candidate.

Thesis Proposal Outline

This sample outline may not be appropriate for some studies. You should decide, in consultation with your major professor, whether to follow the sample outline below or modify it to suit the needs of your particular study. Proposals from former students are available on the department website and can be reviewed to assist you in developing your proposal.

  1. Background and rationale of the study
    • General background of the subject area
    • Specific background for the topic of investigation
    • Review of the literature
    • Definitions of all key terms
    • The hypotheses or questions to be addressed
  2. Methodology
    • Identify and justify the choice of general approach and specific research method
    • Subjects (if applicable; describe them and your rationale for their selection)
    • Methods
    • Limitations
  3. Outline of Projected Results
  4. Potential Conclusions and Implications
  5. “Working” Bibliography of Sources & Materials

Sample Thesis Proposals