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Capstone Thesis Option

Graduate Program (M.S. Degree)

Thesis Option

Students choosing to complete the thesis must successfully complete 30 hours of coursework and 6 hours of thesis work.

A thesis is a detailed research project.  The thesis project should examine an issue related to the fields of Criminal Justice and/or Criminology.  While most theses will involve the analysis of empirical data, theses may entail a philosophical, theoretical, or legal analysis in order to examine the student’s research question. 

In addition to a thesis chair, students should also select a thesis committee.  The thesis committee must have at least three members (one of which is the chair).  At least two committee members must be faculty in the Criminal Justice and Criminology Department. All committee members must have graduate faculty status. For further details, please refer to the Manual of Basic Requirements for Thesis (available from the graduate office).

Students begin their thesis by writing a thesis proposal.  The proposal outlines the research question under study, a review of the literature on the topic, and (where appropriate) an overview of the proposed methodology the student will undertake to answer the research question.  The thesis committee must approve the student's thesis proposal.  This is typically accomplished through a formal “thesis proposal defense” meeting, to be scheduled by the student and/or the thesis chair.  During the proposal defense, the student makes an oral presentation and fields questions about the proposed study.

Once the proposal is successfully defended, the student then completes the research project* and writes up the findings/conclusions from the study.  This document is again submitted to the thesis committee for approval.  This is accomplished through a formal “thesis defense” meeting, to be scheduled by the student and/or the thesis chair.  During the thesis defense, the student makes an oral presentation and fields questions about the completed study.  A final copy of the approved thesis document is submitted to the graduate school.

*Note that prior to completing the research study, the student may need approval from the University’s Institutional Review Board, which ensures any research involving human subjects is conducted in within federally mandated ethical standards.  See Research Utilizing Human Subjects.