Graduate students begin the thesis process by writing a thesis proposal that describes the central elements of the thesis work. Those elements vary depending on the type of thesis (research, artistic, or project) that the student plans to write. Students begin drafting the thesis proposal in the course Thesis Proposal Seminar. The three proposal formats are described in detail below.
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Research Thesis Proposal
The proposal for a research thesis consists of five sections:
Artistic Thesis Proposal
The artistic thesis consists of an artistic work and supporting essays, and it is important to conceive of each element as contributing to a coherent whole. The proposal itself consists of five sections:
This section should provide the reader with relevant historical or critical information to place the central research question in context, and this section should also discuss the key theories, methods, and sources to be used within the research essay. It should demonstrate that the student knows how to begin answering the question(s) he or she is posing. What sorts of things will the student need to find out? What research methods will be used? What kinds of sources will be reviewed, and how will information from them be used? Who, if anyone, will be interviewed, and what kinds of questions will the subjects be asked?
Students should also reflect, in this section, on the broad analytical approach that will structure their research and identify the school(s) of thought that will inform their investigations.
This section consists of a list of books and articles and artworks with accompanying annotations that explain why these readings and other sources are likely to be crucial as the work advances.
Project Thesis Proposal
The project thesis includes two major components: (a) an activity (program, intervention, campaign, etc.) designed to address (solve, remediate, improve) a problem, issue or opportunity in the student's domain as a professional or activist; and (b) a written document that describes, rationalizes, analyzes, and assesses the activity. It is not strictly a research study, but rather an exercise in reflective practice. Therefore, the proposal takes a form different from that of the research or artistic thesis proposal. Please note, as well, that a project thesis must be not only designed but implemented and evaluated.
All thesis proposals should conform to the following specifications:
The Thesis Proposal Seminar
Students write their thesis proposals while enrolled in the Thesis Proposal Seminar (a 2-credit core requirement offered every spring). Throughout that semester, students work closely with their Adviser and Instructor to draft an acceptable proposal. When the proposal has received approval from both the Thesis Proposal Seminar instructor (Gallatin reviewer) and the adviser, the student is allowed to move on to their thesis research. The three steps of the approval process are outlined below.
The Thesis Proposal Seminar instructor serves as the Gallatin reviewer of the thesis proposal. A student must receive a grade of ‘Pass’ in the Thesis Proposal Seminar for the proposal to be considered ‘reviewer approved’. If the student’s proposal is not finished at the end of the semester, the student will receive a grade of 'Incomplete' in the course.
Students work closely with their advisers over the course of the semester to produce a proposal that the adviser can approve. Once the adviser agrees that the proposal is ready, students submit their final proposal via the online Thesis Proposal submission form.
MA Program Approval
In addition to receiving a passing grade in the Thesis Proposal Seminar, students must submit their proposal to the program via the online Thesis Proposal submission form. At that point, Gallatin contacts the student’s adviser to confirm the adviser’s approval. The Thesis Proposal submission form allows students to provide Gallatin with additional information about the courses, internships, independent studies, jobs, and other experiences that have prepared the student for their thesis work.
Students must submit their proposals online by June 15.