Non-Thesis Option and Oral Exam
For non-thesis option programs, a research paper should show evidence of the student's knowledge of research techniques and should be based on a special project or specific courses. The research paper shall be supervised by the instructor of record in a formal section of WED 593 or with an individual graduate faculty member who has agreed to work with a student. The student must enroll in WED 593 the semester prior to their expected graduation semester. The student must also have an outside reader. Only the faculty member and the reader may vote or make recommendations concerning acceptance of the research paper and oral examination. A student will be recommended for the degree only if the faculty member and reader judge both the research paper and the performance at the oral examination to be satisfactory.
An oral exam is conducted by the student's committee (graduate faculty member and reader). The exam should only be scheduled after the supervising faculty member concludes that the research is completed and the subsequent research is in final draft form. The oral exam is much less of a "test" than it is a professional discussion between the student and their committee. The discussion typically centers on the student's research paper, although questions about coursework or other matters may be introduced at the discretion of the graduate faculty member or the reader. The exam typically lasts about an hour, after which the faculty member and the reader will certify in writing (assuming a favorable outcome) that research 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 their research paper advisor and the staff in the Office of Graduate Programs to schedule a convenient time for the research paper defense meeting and should allow at least two weeks for scheduling that meeting. Additionally, students must submit a copy of the research paper to each committee member a minimum of two weeks prior to the defense meeting. Certain information provided by the student and preparation of necessary forms will be required prior to the meeting.
Model papers for each of the three types of research that may be used to satisfy research requirements for the nonthesis option are presented:
- Sample Research Project
- Sample Data Gathering Research Paper
- Sample Literature Review and Synthesis Research Paper
(Source: Adapted from the 2009-2010 Graduate Catalog)