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Each student is required to write a thesis proposal in their chosen field of study. The thesis proposal is developed under the mentorship of the supervisor and the supervisory committee. The thesis proposal should normally include the following information, but may not necessarily follow this format:
Significance of the research;
Background to the problem or issue under study;
A theory or theoretical support for the study;
Preliminary description of proposed analysis;
Ethical considerations (if applicable); and
The student submits their proposal to the committee and conducts an oral presentation to the committee. At this time, the supervisor and the supervisory committee must formally approve the thesis proposal. The student conducts a formal presentation of the proposal to the committee within normally a closed session (no one besides the student, the supervisory committee, and a designate from the office of the FGS can be present).
The presentation is followed by an oral examination, in which the committee will ask questions related to the proposal, raise questions or issues the student may anticipate in conducting the research, and determine whether the student is adequately knowledgeable in the proposed research area to proceed with the thesis research. The conduct of the oral examination component must follow the Guidelines and Procedures for Oral Examinations for Master's Thesis Route and Doctoral Programs.
The proposal and the oral examination are adjudicated at the same time; however, they are given different ratings. For example, the student may receive a Pass on the oral examination but may receive a Fail on the proposal. To proceed to Ethics (if applicable) or with their research, the student must receive a Pass on both the proposal and the oral examination.
The decision shall be that of the majority. If a decision cannot be reached, the supervisor’s report should record the recommendation of each committee member on the Master's Thesis Proposal Oral Examination Report. This is submitted to the FGS.
In the case where the examination committee recommends an adjournment, the student is given a second opportunity for the oral examination. At the second attempt, the oral examination and proposal must be rated as a Pass or Fail. Under extraordinary circumstances, the student may obtain an Adjournment on the second attempt.
If the recommendation is a Fail, consultation with the FGS will be required. Depending upon the reason for the Fail, the committee may recommend to FGS that the student be allowed a second attempt at the oral examination or proposal. If the FGS agrees with this recommendation, at the second attempt the examination committee must select one of two adjudication categories, Pass or Fail. Any student who receives a Fail at the second attempt is required to withdraw from the program with a Fail appearing on the transcript.
All committee members agree that no revisions are needed. The student receives a clear Pass.
Minor copy-editing revisions may be needed. The student cannot proceed to Ethics approval (if needed) or with the research until the supervisor has approved the revisions. In some cases, the supervisor may want a committee member to also approve the revisions.
The proposal requires substantial revisions. A reconvening of the committee is not normally required but may occur depending upon the preference of the committee members.
Normally, the committee members must review the revisions and determine whether the revisions are adequate and that the student can receive a Pass. The student cannot proceed to Ethics approval (if needed) or with the research until all committee members have approved the revisions.
The proposal is unacceptable; e.g., poorly written, does not adequately address the literature in the research area, contains other significant omissions, or displays evidence of academic misconduct, such as plagiarism.
The presentation accurately described the intended research. The student was able to accurately and articulately answer the committee’s questions.
The presentation of the proposal was poor with inadequate description of the intended study; the questions were answered poorly; it did not appear that the student was well informed on the background to their study or the intended research approach.
There may be unexpected or extenuating circumstances that cause the oral examination to be adjourned, such as severe anxiety, technology problems of 30 minutes or more, illness, or an absent committee member.
Updated November 08, 2019 by Student & Academic Services