Thesis Option and Oral Exam
Candidates for a master's degree in the thesis option shall write a thesis. The thesis shall be supervised by a committee of at least three members of the graduate faculty and may be counted for not more than six nor less than three semester hours of credit. Only members of the committee may vote or make recommendations concerning acceptance of the thesis and final examination. A student will be recommended for the degree only if the members of the committee, with at most one exception not to include the committee chair, judge both the thesis and the performance at the final oral examination to be satisfactory. In cases where a committee of more than three has been approved, the requirement of not more than one negative vote will still apply.
Upon completion of all degree requirements (or the expectation is completion at the end of the currently enrolled semester), a final oral exam is conducted by the student's thesis committee. The exam should only be scheduled after the supervising faculty member concludes that the research is completed and the subsequent thesis is in final draft form. Ideally, the exam should be scheduled several weeks (see deadlines for each semester) prior to the Graduate School due date for submission of thesis to allow time for any final corrections or additions that the committee might require.
The oral exam is much less of a "test" than it is a professional discussion between the student and their thesis committee. The discussion typically centers on the student's thesis, although questions about coursework or other matters may be introduced at the discretion of the committee. The exam typically lasts about an hour, after which the committee will certify in writing (assuming a favorable outcome) that requirements for the degree have been met. Finally, the student will be asked to provide the Department's Office of Graduate Programs with certain follow-up information.
A student should work closely with the thesis committee chair and staff in the Office of Graduate Programs to schedule a convenient time for the meeting. Students should allow at least two weeks for scheduling the thesis defense meeting. Students must have a copy of the thesis to each committee member a minimum of two weeks prior to the thesis defense meeting. Certain information provided by the student and preparation of necessary forms will be required prior to the meeting.
An electronic PDF version of the approved thesis must be presented to the Graduate School by the stated deadline date. There is a fee of $80.00 to cover the cost of publication of the abstract and microfilming of the thesis. If copyright is desired, an additional fee of $65.00 will be required.
(Source: Adapted from the 2009-2010 Graduate Catalog)