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Graduate Degree Information

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Theses and Projects

A student may enroll for thesis or project units (courses usually numbered 698 or 699) only when that student has attained candidacy status for the degree or when advancement to candidacy will occur in the semester of initial enrollment in thesis or project units. CSULB will award a minimum of three and a maximum of six semester units for the successful completion of a thesis or project.

All thesis or project units must be specified as either credit/no credit only or letter grade only by the department. If a department selects the letter grade option the student must earn at least a B.

Theses and projects submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a graduate degree at this University shall meet the following definitions established by the Trustees of the CSU.

A thesis is a written product of the systematic study of a significant problem. It clearly identifies the problem, states the major assumptions, explains the significance of the undertaking, sets forth the sources for and methods of gathering information, analyzes the data, and offers a conclusion or recommendation. The finished product evidences originality, critical and independent thinking, appropriate organization and format, and thorough documentation. Normally, an oral defense of the thesis will be required.

A project is a significant undertaking appropriate to the fine and applied arts or to professional fields. It evidences originality and independent thinking, appropriate form and organization, and a rationale. It is described and summarized in a written abstract that includes the project's significance, objectives, methodology, and a conclusion or recommendation. An oral defense of the project may be required.
Students are responsible for understanding the definition of a graduate thesis as outlined above and must follow the format guidelines prescribed by the University and department in which the thesis is completed.

Thesis Committees

A student's thesis committee shall consist of at least three members qualified in the areas relating to the thesis. At least two shall be full-time faculty members at CSULB, one of whom must be tenured or tenure-track. The chair of the thesis committee must be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member from a department authorized to offer a graduate degree. The thesis committee must be approved by the department chair and the graduate or thesis advisor. Normally the chair of the committee also serves as thesis director, but this is not necessarily so. The thesis director must be a person qualified in the specific area of the thesis, but need not be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member. The committee shall be responsible for the guidance of the student throughout the thesis effort. Any change in the composition of the committee requires justification and must be approved by the appropriate department graduate advisor and college associate dean or director of graduate studies.

Thesis committee members will advise and direct students in their thesis work and ensure that the thesis meets the standards and definition of a thesis specified above.

Thesis committee members will determine the grade to be awarded for completion of the thesis; and by signing the thesis signature page, thesis committee members certify that they have determined that the thesis meets the required standards of scholarship, format, and style of the discipline.

When the thesis committee includes a thesis director who is not the chair of the committee, this person may be identified on the thesis approval page as "Thesis Director."

Thesis Committee Chairs

Thesis committee chairs will determine that the student has the proper preparation in terms of course work and research skills to pursue the proposed thesis.

In departments where this function is not carried out by graduate advisors, thesis committee chairs will advise the student in the selection of other members for the thesis committee, ensuring that the other members are appropriate to the proposed thesis effort.

Thesis committee chairs will be the major contact point with the student and will oversee the other committee members' work with the student.

Thesis committee chairs will assure that the editorial and format standards appropriate to the mechanical preparation of a thesis are followed.

Thesis committee chairs will establish guidelines for the student and timetables to be followed to ensure completion of the thesis in a reasonable time.

Thesis committee chairs will arrange for the oral defense of the thesis when required.

The thesis committee chair is responsible for canvassing the committee and reporting the grade agreed upon by its members. After the completed thesis has been reviewed by the University Thesis and Dissertation Office for conformance with prescribed format criteria and the approval page has been signed by the committee and by the dean or department chair, as appropriate, the final grade will be submitted.

Thesis and Dissertation Office

All theses must be acceptable for deposit in the University Library. The Thesis and Dissertation Office in University Library will verify that each thesis meets the format criteria prescribed by the department or degree program and by the University and that it meets all University procedural requirements for theses. Students should consult the University Thesis and Dissertation Office for information, advice, and assistance on the mechanics of preparing a completed thesis and should purchase a copy of Master's Theses and Projects: Guide to Style and Format (copies of this guide can also be checked out from the reserve desk in University Library). The Thesis and Dissertation Office also conducts periodic workshops on how to prepare a thesis or dissertation at CSULB.

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