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College of Arts & Sciences

The Master's Thesis

M.S. in Geological Sciences

All students must select a permanent faculty adviser and write a thesis. The graduate thesis is the culmination of the student's graduate training. It should be thoughtfully conceived and carefully developed. The topic for the thesis should be chosen by the student and the permanent faculty adviser by the second semester of residence. This choice should be made in terms of the scientific merit of the thesis problem. Choices based solely on the amount of available financial assistance generally lead to frustration and unsatisfactory professional development. Hence, financial considerations should be of secondary importance.

Thesis Proposal

When the thesis problem has been selected, the graduate student will develop, in consultation with his or her adviser, a concise (approximately 10-page) proposal describing the thesis project, the problems to be considered, and the procedures to be used in problem solution. The proposal should include a literature search and bibliography. At the time that the proposal is developed, the student and his or her adviser will select a thesis committee to consist of at least three members (including the adviser) whose fields of interest are related to the student's research. Committee members may be selected from faculty members outside of the Department of Geological Sciences or from qualified professionals outside of the University. The completed thesis proposal will indicate the membership of the thesis committee. Completed thesis proposals must be submitted to the entire faculty for approval by the middle of the fourth semester of residence.

Thesis Proposal Defense

All M.S. students must orally defend their thesis proposals by the end of their fourth semester. For most students, this will mean by the end of Fall semester in the second year of study. Students wishing to defend earlier than Fall semester are strongly encouraged to do so (and must do so to qualify for the Geology Alumni Research Grant, see below). Students should work with their advisor and graduate chair to schedule the oral defense. The proposal defense will consist of a student presentation lasting about 20 minutes followed by questions from the student's committee and other members of the faculty and student body.

Thesis Defense

Each M.S. thesis will be defended by the student in a public forum. The student will give a 30-40 minute presentation, followed by questions from the general audience and thesis committee. The student must pass the thesis defense before submitting the final draft of the thesis to the College of Arts & Sciences. Announcements indicating the thesis title, and the date, time, and place of the defense must be posted in the department at least three days before the defense. Responsibility for posting these announcements lies with the student and the thesis adviser.

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