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Thesis Proposal

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.

Research Thesis Proposal

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Artistic Thesis Proposal

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Project Thesis Proposal

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Format of the Proposal

All thesis proposals should conform to the following specifications:

  • Title Page
    The title should be reasonably succinct, but descriptive enough to convey the nature of the thesis; the title page should include your full name, the date of submission, and your adviser’s name.
  • Length
    The thesis proposal should be approximately 8 pages, excluding the annotated bibliography. Remember that this is a proposal, not the thesis itself; tell us what you propose to do and how, don’t do it.
  • Annotated Bibliography
    This bibliography should contain brief commentaries on no fewer than 10–15 relevant source works.

The Approval Process for the Thesis Proposal

Please remember that you should not get very far into the production of the thesis before submitting the thesis proposal and having it approved by your adviser and by Gallatin. You may waste a great deal of time by working on a thesis that is later rejected.

Submitting the Thesis Proposal

As you are working on your proposal, you should meet with your adviser to get feedback on your project.  Once your adviser has approved the final version of your proposal, you should submit the proposal to Gallatin using the online Thesis Proposal submission form. Please note that submitting your proposal to the instructor of Thesis Proposal Seminar is not the same as submitting your proposal to Gallatin.  Even if you receive a passing grade in the course, you still need to submit your proposal to Gallatin for review.

Gallatin strongly recommends that students submit the adviser-approved thesis proposal to Gallatin while they are enrolled in Thesis Proposal Seminar or soon after finishing the course. Students who complete Thesis Proposal Seminar in the Spring are required to submit the thesis proposal to Gallatin by September 16.

The Thesis Proposal submission form serves as a kind of cover letter and preface to your thesis proposal. It will provide the thesis proposal reviewer with information about your academic and professional background, such as the courses, internships and independent studies you have taken and the jobs or volunteer positions you have held that prepared you to undertake the proposed thesis. The function of this form, with the proposal itself, is to establish your qualifications for the thesis work.

Adviser Approval

When you submit the Thesis Proposal submission form, Gallatin will contact your adviser to confirm his or her approval of the thesis proposal.  Your adviser must approve the proposal before it will be assigned to a Gallatin faculty member for review. 

Gallatin Approval

After your adviser has approved the thesis, it will be reviewed by a member of the full-time Gallatin faculty (this is true even if your adviser is from Gallatin).

When the Gallatin faculty member has reviewed your proposal, you will receive an email notifying you of the decision. If your proposal is approved, you may proceed with the thesis work. If the proposal is not accepted, you will revise it based on the reviewer’s comments and suggestions and on further consultations with your adviser; then you will resubmit the proposal for another review. Please allow two to three weeks for review of your proposal.

If you have questions about the thesis proposal submission process, please write to  The M.A. program directors are also available to consult with you about the thesis proposal.