THESIS STEPS AND TIMELINE
I. Assemble the Committee: The thesis committee consists of three members: a director and two readers. You will work most closely with the director, who should be a specialist in the area of your project. Once you have decided on a topic, write to a faculty member who specializes in the area of the project and ask him or her to direct it. Your email should include a brief description of the topic for the project. If the facult member agrees to direct the project, you should set up a meeting with the director to discuss who might be appropriate faculty to serve as readers. Then email these faculty a brief description of your project and ask if they would be willing to serve on the committee.
II. Sign up for ENG-W609 with your Director: You can actually take this course for four hours of credit at any point in the thesis project. If your thesis takes more than one semester to complete, you will not need to sign up for additional thesis hours. You will be given an “R” grade (which means “in progress”), which your director will change after you have completed the thesis defense and the committee has assigned a grade for the project.
III. The Proposal: Your can find a description of the proposal here. You should discuss with your director his or her expectations for the proposal. You should expect to go through several drafts of this document and for it to take 1-2 weeks for your director to comment on each draft. Once your director approves the proposal, he or she will send it to the other readers to approve.
IV. The Proposal Meeting: Once the proposal is approved by the two readers, the director will schedule a one-hour proposal meeting, where your committee will offer suggestions for developing the project. After this meeting, the committee members formally approve the proposal by submitting a proposal approval form. You are then free to begin work on the project.
V. The Drafting Stage: Set up a meeting with your director to establish a schedule for submitting the project. Most directors will ask you to submit it in sections rather than all at once. When you submit a section of the project, expect it to take your director 2-3 weeks to provide feedback, depending on the length of the draft. During this time, you should work on the next section of the project. Expect to go through multiple drafts of the project. Once the director believes the project is sufficiently polished, he or she will distribute it to the readers, who may also ask you to make some revisions. Again, you should allow your readers several weeks to comment on the project.
VI. The Defense: When the committee as a whole is satisfied with the project, the director will set up a thesis defense—a one-hour meeting where you will give a ten-minute formal presentation about the thesis and then field questions from your committee members. A complete description of the defense presentation is available here. The goal of the defense is to have a sustained academic conversation about the project and to develop some ideas about how you might improve it should you continue working on it. At the end of the defense, the committee members will ask you to leave the room and confer for a few minutes about the final grade for the project. They will then invite you back in, inform you of your grade, and sign the Acceptance Page for your thesis, which you will include in the bound copies.
VII. Formatting Approval: Once your thesis has been approved, you should assemble its sections into a single document and check to make sure that it meets the thesis formatting guidelines. You should then send an electronic copy of the thesis to the Director of Graduate Studies, who may request formatting revisions.
VIII. Printing: When the director has approved the formatting of your thesis, you must present three copies to the department secretary that are printed on watermarked, 100 percent cotton bond paper (20 or 24-pound weight). The secretary will send these copies to the printer for binding. You may include additional copies for personal use, which will be bound for $8.60 each.