Master's Thesis Policies & Guidelines

Committee Formation

A student interested in conducting a thesis should identify a faculty member who has expertise in the area the student wishes to study. This faculty member will become the Faculty Thesis Chair. This chairperson has the responsibility for advising the student not only on carrying out the research, but on the process of conducting the entire thesis. The Faculty Thesis Chair's role is to ensure the research is within the capabilities of the student, that the student has taken the requisite course work needed to perform the work and will serve as the chair of the three member Thesis Review Committee. The Faculty Thesis Chair must be a full-time OILS faculty member. Students may give a preference as to whom they would like to have as the Faculty Thesis Chair.

As soon as a student has selected an appropriate chair, he or she should meet to discuss the research to be conducted. As soon as a topic has been selected, the student should:

  1. Register for 3 hours of OILS 599 thesis credit
  2. Begin preparing the thesis proposal
  3. Select the other two thesis committee members. At least two of the three members must be OILS graduate faculty.

As soon as the committee and topic are selected, the student files the Thesis Committee Form with the OILS office. In addition, if the Program of Study form has not been completed, it should be turned in at this time.

Thesis Proposal

The Thesis Proposal consists of three chapters:

  1. Introduction
  2. Literature Review
  3. Methods

All theses should follow APA Guidelines for Writing Research Papers, available in the UNM Bookstore. In the Introduction, the research problem will be introduced with a discussion of the importance of the research. The Introduction should conclude with the study’s hypothesis or research questions. The Literature Review consists of a discussion of pertinent studies related to the research questions. Also, all important variables should be identified along with the research that relates these variables to the current study. The Methods chapter consists of a short review of the study’s questions/hypothesis(es) and then a detailed report of the subjects, methods, instruments, pilot, and data analysis to be followed in the study.

Thesis Hearing

When the Faculty Chair believes the proposal is ready for the entire committee’s review, the student arranges for a formal Thesis Proposal Hearing. All committee members should receive a copy of the proposal at least two weeks in advance of the meeting. Also, the student advises the Program Coordinator and a Thesis Proposal Hearing form is completed by the OILS office. The Program Coordinator will send out a copy of this form to the committee members reminding them of the date, time, and place of the Thesis Proposal Hearing. The Thesis Proposal Hearing should be scheduled to last one and one/half hours and a room will be scheduled by the Program Coordinator.

At the Thesis Proposal Hearing, the student will present an overview of the introduction and literature review and a complete description of the methods (Chapters 1 - 3). At this time, faculty members have the opportunity to provide input to the study’s design and changes will be recorded by the Faculty Chair. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Thesis Proposal form is signed by all the committee members. The Faculty Chair should send a copy of the Thesis Proposal form to the student with a memo outlining all necessary changes. The original will be filed in the OILS Program Office. The student then prepares and turns in the Institutional Review Board form to the Human Subjects Review Committee. The IRB packet can be picked up at the IRB office or from the Faculty Chair.

At this point the student, under the guidance of the Faculty Chair, should conduct the research and prepare chapters three and four, the Results and Conclusions. The student must enroll continually in OILS Thesis 599 every semester (excluding summers) under the Faculty Chair until the thesis is completed (6 hours is the required minimum).

Thesis Defense

When the Faculty Chair believes the last two chapters are complete, the student arranges for a Thesis Defense meeting. Again, the student should provide committee members a completed draft at least two weeks before the defense. Also, the Thesis Defense meeting form must be completed by the OILS Program Office and turned into the Office of Graduate Studies at least two weeks in advance. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the Program Coordinator three weeks in advance of the planned defense. This meeting should be scheduled at least two weeks before the thesis has to be turned into the Office of Graduate Studies (See University Bulletin for dates). This meeting should be scheduled to last one and one/half hours. The Program Coordinator will post the defense date for the college and send a reminder memo to the faculty committee members.

At the Thesis Defense meeting, the student explains the study, the results and conclusions. Committee members may provide input for final changes. This oral defense of the thesis satisfies the Office of Graduate Studies' Comprehensive Examination requirement. Both the Defense form and the Master’s Comprehensive Exam form will be signed by the committee members and is forwarded to the Office of Graduate Studies. The Faculty Chair will send copies of the forms and a memo outlining necessary changes to the student. The student should have final changes made and turned into the Faculty Chair within one week for final proofreading. When the Faculty Chair signs off on the thesis, it is turned into the Office of Graduate Studies by the appropriate deadline by the student.