Theses and Dissertations
Philosophy. The department envisions master's theses to be demonstrations of a student's ability to formulate a geographic research problem, collect and analyze relevant data or appropriate literature, arrive at logical conclusions, and present the entire exercise in an acceptably professional form. Theses are more often learning experiences than substantive contributions to the field. The Ph.D. dissertation, on the other hand, is a major research effort designed to contribute significant new knowledge to geography.
Guidelines for Proposals. Although a dissertation proposal is necessarily more elaborate than that for a M.A. thesis, all proposals are expected to contain three basic elements:
- Problem statement—the research problem and/or questions presented in concise terms.
- Relevant literature—a demonstration of how the proposed research relates to existing knowledge.
- Outline of methodology—an outline of the general methodology if not specific techniques to be utilized in solving the research problem or answering the basic research questions.
Submission of Thesis/Dissertation for Committee Examination.
Students should submit theses and dissertations directly to their advisors, and this advisor's approval must be received before a “clean and complete” version of this document is passed on to other committee members and the final oral defense is scheduled. A "clean" manuscript is typed in legible fashion with a minimum of handwritten corrections and is "complete" in the sense that the entire text is provided, together with table of contents, notes, bibliography, appendices, and supporting materials such as tables, graphs, maps, and illustrations. Graphics and maps should be carefully laid out with complete information in a format (size and shape) that is appropriate for inclusion in the final document. The thesis/dissertation need not, and in fact should not, be in final form for binding. The presumption is that some changes will be necessary and these are easier to recommend and implement if the copy is "clean and complete" but not "final." Five weeks before the intended date of a student’s final oral examination, the student (with approval of the committee chair), will submit a complete draft of the thesis or dissertation to all committee members. The advisor and committee members have a responsibility to provide timely evaluations. Within two weeks of this submission, committee members must indicate whether or not the thesis or dissertation is defendable by signing a “Permission to Schedule Defense” form.
Presentation. Students are strongly encouraged to make a formal presentation, in which they discuss the results of their thesis or dissertation research. This presentation may be at the beginning of their final oral defense or at some other time convenient for the larger departmental and university community.