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Research Requirement: M.A. Thesis Option

The M.A. thesis option requires a thesis and an oral defense in accordance with program guidelines and university policies. Students are strongly encouraged to present their research findings to a wider audience at a CLJC or departmental research workshop or symposium or academic conference. The thesis option is recommended for students interested in graduate work, including the JD Or Ph.D., beyond the Master of Arts degree.

Students completing the research requirement through the M.A. thesis should become familiar with the university’s requirements and deadlines for organizing and submitting the thesis. Thesis and Dissertation (TAD) services provides all forms and guidelines, as well as a list of deadlines updated for the next academic year. The Graduate College coordinates the final approval and submission processes for the manuscript. In accordance with Graduate Council, all TAD deadlines are mandatory and final.

Students considering the M/A/ thesis option must consult with the Graduate Program Director. Students pursuing the thesis option must enroll in two 4-credit courses of LJC 6950: Thesis in Law, Justice & Culture across two semesters, including at least 4 credits in the final semester of graduate study; students are encouraged to consider enrolling in an additional 4 credits of LJC 6950 in the final semester. In consultation with the Graduate Program Director, the student must establish the thesis adviser prior to the start of fall semester, prior to enrolling in thesis hours in that semester.

When a topic has been selected, the student, in conjunction with the thesis adviser, establishes the committee and develops the thesis proposal in accordance with program guidelines outlined in this graduate handbook. Copies of the proposal will be circulated to members of the Thesis Committee and a proposal hearing will be scheduled prior to the end of the semester prior to the final semester of graduate study. All students must pass a proposal hearing as well as a final oral defense of the thesis.

The completion of the thesis must be followed by an oral defense before the thesis committee. Program requirements include: successful format review, oral defense, and electronic submission of the thesis to the Graduate College for review. Students are required to follow all procedures and timetables specified by the Graduate College.

M.A. Thesis Timeline

Prior to the Start of Fall Semester

Students who have accepted the offer of admission into the M.A. program and who wish to pursue the thesis option must submit the CLJC Preliminary Thesis Approval Form, included in this graduate handbook, to the Graduate Program Director no later than the opening date of first summer session prior to the start of fall semester. The Graduate Program Director, in consultation with the Graduate Committee, will approve or deny the thesis project. If approval is granted, then the Graduate Program Director will advise the student to contact potential thesis advisers over the summer.

Once approved, students pursuing the thesis are advised to contact potential faculty advisers in a timely manner. The thesis adviser must be a CLJC faculty affiliate. Note that students accepted into the program are able to enroll in fall semester courses approximately two weeks prior to the start of fall semester. Students pursuing the thesis must enroll in 4 hours of LJC 6950, which requires the permission of the thesis adviser as the instructor of record.

Fall Semester

Students pursuing the thesis must submit the CLJC Thesis Adviser Form, included in this graduate handbook, signed by the thesis adviser, to the Graduate Program Director no later than Friday of Week 1 of fall semester. If the CLJC Thesis Adviser Form is not submitted by this deadline, then the student may not proceed with the thesis.

Students should, in consultation with the thesis adviser, select a thesis committee consisting of the thesis adviser and two additional committee members. The thesis adviser and at least one committee member must be CLJC faculty affiliates. Qualified individuals from outside CLJC and/or Ohio University may be eligible to serve as the third member of the thesis committee, through consultation with the thesis adviser and Graduate Program Director.

Students whose work involves research with human subjects (questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, or participant observation, for example) must gain the approval of the Ohio University Office of Research Compliance before they begin their research. Ohio University’s IRB approval project requires approval from both the faculty adviser and the Graduate Program Director. Students must consult closely with the faculty adviser early in fall semester and plan ahead to seek IRB approval in advance of beginning data collection for the project.

Through consultation with the thesis adviser, students should develop the theoretical and methodological components of the project and prepare a LJC M.A. Thesis Research Plan, including a timeline, in accordance with the guidelines provided in this graduate handbook. Once the thesis adviser approves the Research Plan, students must circulate the plan with all committee members and schedule a mandatory thesis committee meeting to discuss the plan and obtain the signatures of all committee members on the CLJC MA Thesis Research Plan Approval Form, included in this graduate handbook. The meeting and approval must be completed and the Approval Form submitted to the Graduate Program Director no later than Friday of Week 11 of the fall semester. Students must provide a copy of the final approved Research Plan, including any revisions based on suggestions from the committee and approved by the thesis adviser, to each committee member and to the Graduate Program Director, who will place the plan in the student’s file.

Spring Semester

All students planning to graduate in spring semester must apply for graduation by Monday of Week 6 of spring semester. This deadline is established by the Office of the Registrar. Students should consider initiating the Graduate College TAD process by filling out the TAD Submission Form at this point.

While still working on the thesis, students should ideally start working prior to spring break to initiate the scheduling process to establish a date and time for the oral thesis defense, later in the semester.

Students must finalize the date and time of the oral thesis examination and circulate an adviser-approved final draft of the thesis to the thesis committee by Friday of Week 10. This is 14 days prior to the oral thesis defense deadline. The College of Arts & Sciences requires that the student submit the Arrangements for the Oral Thesis Examination Form to the thesis committee and the Graduate Program Director by this deadline. This form does not need to be filed with the College of Arts & Sciences. Note that this form requires the room reservation, but it does not require signatures from the thesis committee.

Students must complete the oral thesis defense by Friday of Week 12. This is a Graduate College deadline. Students who defend after this deadline will not graduate in the intended term. The adviser-approved final draft of the thesis must be circulated to the thesis committee at least 14 days prior to the defense.

The M.A. thesis defense consists of an oral defense of the thesis and an examination of thesis content and related topics by the thesis committee, including the thesis adviser. The duration of the thesis defense is approximately two hours. It is the student’s responsibility to reserve a room for the defense, with assistance from CLJC administrative assistants.

Following the M.A. thesis defense, the thesis committee will determine the outcome of the oral exam and of the written thesis as Satisfactory, with a letter grade, or Unsatisfactory. This determination will be indicated on the Report on the Oral Thesis Examination Form. The Report Form will be submitted to the College of Arts & Sciences once the M.A. thesis defense is completed and the thesis committee has approved the final content of the M.A. thesis.

A student who receives an Unsatisfactory evaluation by at least one committee member on the M.A. thesis defense will have failed their exam. At the discretion of the M.A. thesis committee, students who received an Unsatisfactory evaluation may be permitted to submit and defend a revised thesis in the following academic semester and may also be required to take additional coursework. If a student fails the M.A. thesis defense a second time and/or does not complete other requirements defined by the M.A. thesis committee, the student will be dismissed from the program.

Following the oral defense, TAD Services requires that the Post-Defense Format Review take place by Friday at 3:00 p.m. of Week 13. This is the latest time to submit the TAD Submission Form..At this point, the thesis must be approved by the thesis adviser and the thesis committee, and the document’s content must be final. TAD only permits formatting changes after this date.

The final clearance deadline is Friday at 3:00 p.m. of Week 15. All steps in the TAD process must be complete by this deadline: the format must be approved, the PDF must be uploaded, and the Report on the Oral Thesis Examination Form must be on file with TAD.

Templates for the CLJC M.A. thesis title page and signature page are included in this graduate handbook.

Students should determine citation style in close consultation with the M.A. thesis adviser. The LJC M.A. program recommends but does not require that students follow the Author Guidelines and citation style for Law & Social Inquiry.