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In planning a program, students pursuing the M.A. or the M.S. Forensic Option and the M.S. ABA Option are required to submit a thesis as a culminating experience for the Masters Degree.

The thesis option is open only to students in the Master of Arts and the M.S. Forensic or ABA Option.  The thesis consists of either an original empirical research project or a novel theoretical or conceptual interpretation of existing psychological thought based on material previously published.  In either case, the thesis must deal with a problem of some importance to the field of psychology, in a manner that is scholarly, logical, objective, and systematic.

PSY 597

The first step in the process of doing a thesis is to complete Psy 597.  It is recommended that the student begin thinking about their thesis topic several quarters before beginning Psy 597.  During this course, the student is expected to establish a suitable topic, review pertinent literature, design their study or topic, and write a proposal.  The proposal includes a statement of the proposed topic, review of literature on the topic, and, for empirical studies, a statement of hypotheses to be tested and the research methodology to be used.  The student should identify two additional faculty members willing to serve on their thesis committee.  The proposal should be approved by the thesis chair and by the two other committee members.  The three committee members should sign a GS-12 form, this form plus a copy of your proposal must be filed in the Psychology Office one quarter before the planned enrollment in PSY 597.

PSY 599

The next step is for the student to enroll in Psy 599.  Upon approval of the research design by the thesis committee, the student will undertake the thesis, working under the guidance of the thesis chair.  One year from the point of the first enrollment in Psy 599 is allowed to complete the thesis units.  If the thesis is not completed after registering in all of the 599 units on the program (maximum=4), the student must register for Psy 900 (which carries no credit) in order to complete thesis requirements and graduate.

Progressively revised drafts of the thesis will be submitted to the chair of the thesis committee periodically for review and comment. The chair may, from time to time, require the student to submit copies to other members of the committee as well. The final draft must show clarity of purpose, competent critical analysis, tight organization, and originality. The presentation must be both accurate and complete. In style, it must follow the recommendations of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (latest edition). It should include a separate title page and the following sections:


A brief summary of both the problem and results.


Definition of the problem, development of the background, and statement of the study's purpose and rationale.


Information and subjects, apparatus, and procedures. (This section and the next may not apply to a non-experimental thesis.)


A complete factual statement of the findings, including any tables, figures, and statistical analyses.


This section should include a thoughtful and logical analysis of the implications of the findings as well as conclusions that can be drawn, and any limitations.


The references should reflect a thorough literature review of the salient literature dealing with the subject.


Copies of letters, form, measures, or other written materials used in the study.

After the draft has been approved by the thesis committee, a date is fixed for the final oral defense of the thesis. An abstract and copy of the thesis should be submitted to committee members at least two weeks before the oral defense. The student is required to prepare and bring to the oral defense the following materials for committee signature:  The Title Approval Page (Form GS-13) in triplicate and one copy of The Final Oral Examination Results Page.  These materials are available at the psychology office.  The oral defense is open to any who wish to attend.  After a successful oral defense, the student must return both of the above forms to the psychology office.  Final thesis corrections are made and a final typed thesis with copies are prepared for distribution.

Students are advised to consult with the thesis advisor in the Library at an early date, in order to conform to the Library requirements.  The original must be delivered to the University Library, in the required format, no later than the last day of final exams in the quarter of graduation.  The Library also requires two original copies of the title page, with the appropriate signatures.  Another bound copy of the thesis should be made for the Psychology Department Office.  Additional copies, as required by committee members should be prepared as needed.