The presentation of a thesis as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the master’s degree is required in certain departments and is an option in others. Each school, college, and department defines the nature of research and scholarship accepted for a thesis, but in all cases a high level of resourcefulness, productivity, and mature perception of the discipline is expected. The quality of the culminating work must meet University standards and reflect those of other leading universities. Although the thesis is not required to show original results, it must reveal independent investigation, including the knowledge and application of the accepted methods of scholarship and research methodology. The thesis represents the independent work of the student and must be developed under the direction of the thesis adviser.

The thesis committee must be approved by the Graduate School using the GO-16M form in advance of the thesis defense. The committee must consist of at least three and not more than five faculty members. The chair of the thesis committee must be regular, full-time PSU instructional faculty, tenured or tenure track, assistant professor or higher in rank; the other committee members may be non-tenure track or adjunct faculty. Two of the committee members (the committee chair and one other member) must be from the student’s department; the third member may be from the student’s department or may be PSU faculty from another department or OHSU faculty. If it is necessary to go off campus for one additional committee member with specific expertise not available among PSU faculty, a CV for that proposed member must be presented with the GO-16M form; that member must be in addition to the required three PSU faculty members. All committee members must have master’s degrees or higher.

Students must be registered for at least 1 graduate credit in every term in which they are working on any phase of their thesis, including data development or collection, writing, revision, defense, and finalization through approval by the Graduate School. Students must register for at least 6 to 9 credits of 503 Thesis in their department. (Since students must be continuously enrolled while working on the thesis, they frequently accumulate more than 9 credits of 503 Thesis. However, a maximum of 9 credit of 503 Thesis may be applied to the program of study.) IP (In Progress) is the interim grade reported until the thesis is defended and approved by the student’s thesis committee. Final grades for thesis credits are not recorded until the thesis has been approved by the Graduate School.

A thesis defense may be scheduled only during the regular academic terms, no later than five weeks prior to the close of the term of application for graduation in which the degree will be granted (i.e., must be completed four weeks before the beginning of finals week). For summer term graduation, deadlines apply to the regular eight-week summer session dates. Later completion will result in graduation in a subsequent term. The student must deliver a final draft of the thesis to all members of the approved committee no fewer than 14 days before the thesis defense.

A thesis defense must take place in a meeting with the student and the entire, appointed committee. While it is expected that all members should be physically present, remote participation is permitted under specific conditions. The student’s oral presentation should not exceed 60 minutes. The thesis defense is open to the University faculty and may be open to the public at the department’s discretion. Passing of the thesis defense requires a majority approval. If the student fails the thesis defense, the department may dismiss the student from the master’s program or permit the student to hold a second defense after a minimum of three months. The results of the second defense are final.

The final thesis must be submitted to the Graduate School not later than three weeks prior to the close of the term of application for graduation. See the Graduate Candidate Deadlines for specific dates. For details about thesis formatting and submission, see the Thesis and Dissertation Information available from the Graduate School.