Department of Communication Studies

Thesis Requirements

A thesis is the culmination of a research project a graduate student conducts under the supervision of her/his thesis advisor to demonstrate the student's ability in conceptualizing and operationalizing a research problem, designing a research program, collecting and analyzing data, as well as discussing the findings of the research. As a demonstration of the student's knowledge in theories and research methods, the thesis requires the student to utilize needed research skills to conduct an original research activity aimed at advancing the theoretical understanding of the subject matter chosen.

The student's thesis committee will determine the specific requirements of what constitutes an acceptable thesis project. Usually a thesis project is expected to be an extension of current research. That is, it should provide an original contribution to the field of study.

The names of the thesis committee must be proposed and submitted to the Graduate Program Director. Normally, the thesis committee shall consist of three members of the graduate faculty (one is normally the student's advisor and chair of the thesis). Occasionally, the case may be made for the inclusion of a faculty member who is not a member of the graduate faculty to serve on a thesis committee by virtue of a unique competency to evaluate the proposed research. Normally, two members of the thesis committee should be graduate faculty in the Department of Communication Studies. If appropriate, the student's advisor may continue as chair of the thesis committee; however, students often choose a faculty member more familiar with the area of the thesis project. From this point on, the student's work will be guided by her or his advisor and the thesis committee. The committee must approve the student's topic and research design.

The student should submit the completed Thesis Committee Approval Form to the Graduate Program Director for approval.  The form will then be submitted to the Graduate College.

The graduate student will submit a formal Thesis Proposal to the thesis committee for approval during the semester preceding the semester in which the final three hours of research credit will be taken. The proposal constitutes a formal agreement between the student and the committee regarding what will constitute the finished project. Any substantive change in the content, method, or format of the research will need approval from the committee.

Normally the 6 credit hours (COMMGRAD 6299 (48:299) Research) awarded for the thesis are not taken in the same semester. The first 3 hours should be taken during the semester when the thesis proposal is approved. A grade of Research Continued (RC) will be issued for the first 3 credit hours. The final three hours should be taken during the semester when the thesis is to be completed. The final 3 hours of credit may be awarded only upon the successful completion of the thesis and the advisor will file a grade for the 6 thesis hours then. If an RC is awarded again, the student has a total of seven years to complete the thesis (from the time of admission to the program) before the grade converts to an F.

Thesis format usually follows the MLA Style Manual or the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) guidelines, unless there is another format which is appropriate for the research. See the Graduate College publication "Thesis and Dissertation Manual" at This publication supersedes any other style manual.

Students must schedule a meeting to preview the thesis format with the Graduate College during the semester in which the thesis is to be completed. This preview meeting must be scheduled no later than eight weeks before the last day of the semester. The purpose of the preview is to assure the paper meets "Thesis and Dissertation" manual format stipulations. The draft previewed need not be final, but should be in near final form. No thesis will be accepted by the Graduate College without this meeting.

The thesis must be submitted to the thesis committee at least nine (9) weeks before graduation. (See Appendix H for exact dates.) The copies of the thesis need not be the final copy that will be submitted to the Graduate College, but must be complete (including front matter, tables, figures, photographs, illustrations, footnotes, bibliography etc.), typed, and relatively free of typographical errors. The student should provide each member of the thesis committee with a copy of the thesis. Allow a minimum of two weeks for faculty to read drafts. At the time of the submission of the thesis, the student should schedule a time for her or his oral defense of the thesis with her or his advisor and members of the thesis committee. The defense usually occurs 7-10 days after the thesis has been submitted. Schedule the location of the thesis with the department Office Coordinator.

After the thesis has been successfully defended, any corrections or editorial changes should be made by the student and approved (if necessary) by the chair of the thesis committee or the committee as a whole. The final copy of the thesis should then be prepared. The final copy should be professionally typed or look like it has been. Arrangements have been made through the University Library and Graduate College to accommodate unusual materials in the paper and provide high quality word processor output acceptable for a thesis.

Two copies of the thesis in final form, including the abstract and the approval sheets signed by the thesis committee, must be in the Graduate College Office no later than six (6) weeks prior to commencement.

Each student is required to file a 400-500 word abstract of her or his thesis in triplicate in the Office of the Dean of the Graduate College at the time the thesis is submitted to that office.

One bound copy of the thesis (in addition to the two copies presented to the Graduate Dean), as well as a copy of the abstract, must be presented to the Department’s Office Coordinator. Students should provide bound copies for thesis committee members, as well. The student must submit to the Office Coordinator, for binding, one copy of the thesis on bond paper, plus any additional copies for committee members, etc. It is the student responsibility to submit these copies. The student must pay the department for additional binding. (See department office for information on binding.)