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Writing a Master's Thesis

Information to know before you begin to write your Master's Thesis

  1. YOU are responsible for informing the department which semester you intend to graduate at the BEGINNING of that semester.
  2. To do this, in the first three (3) weeks of the semester that you intend to graduate in, fill out the “Petition to Graduate-Master’s Degree Candidate” form available outside Linda’s office on the second floor of the ME Bldg.
  3. YOU will NOT graduate if you have not met the credit requirements or if you have “incomplete” of “progress” grades, or a graduate grade point average BELOW 3.00. It is YOUR responsibility to verify that you are eligible to graduate.
  4. li>FOUR (4) weeks PRIOR to your oral defense of your thesis, you must report to 243 ME Bldg to order an MS warrant. If you would like your name to appear in the commencement program at the graduation ceremony, you should order your warrant within the first TWO (2) months of your graduating semester.
  5. Prior to ordering your warrant, you must
    1. Know the three members of your thesis committee(usually your advisor(s) and one other examiner)
    2. Determine a date and time when all committee members will be available to hear your defense and speak to Ruth or Linda about arranging for a room.
    3. Know the official title of your thesis, and all classes (w/grades) taken to fulfill the requirements for the ME Master’s degree. (If you are taking classes in the semester that you graduate, this must also be indicated.)
    4. This order form must be signed by your advisor before submitting to Linda, again no later than 4 weeks before your defense.
  6. Seven (7) days prior to your oral defense, you must provide a final draft of your written thesis to all committee members. These are typically printed on standard computer paper and temporarily or inexpensively bound.
  7. The day of or the day prior to your defense you must see Linda to pick up your MS warrant. After the successful defense of your thesis, this warrant must be signed by your committee and returned to Linda. It is useful to have a copy (unofficial or official) of your transcripts with you at your defense. You also should have 2-3 copies of your ‘Approval page’ that will appear in the front of your thesis. Your thesis advisor may choose to sign these at the end of your defense or may wait to sign it after the final revisions are made. Guidelines on how to prepare this document are provided in the links below.
  8. Any revisions or corrections suggested by your committee at the end of your defense must be made and the UNBOUND revised final copy must be turned into the library, usually no later than 3 weeks after the graduation ceremony (see websites below for exact deadline and guidelines/specifications for writing your thesis).
  9. The Solar Lab requests a bound copy of your revised final thesis, printed on white 25% cotton paper as well as on a CD as a PDF file with any relevant data files.

Helpful Resources

See the following websites for more information and detailed specifications.

Advice from former SEL graduates

  • Start early in the semester.
  • Create a timeline for yourself and begin a rough outline of the paper.
  • As you complete individual chapters, submit them to your advisor for corrections.
  • BEFORE TYPING ANYTHING, look at the web for thesis guildlines set forth by the library and other Master's theses for formatting.
  • There are mixed opinions about using Auto Format to automatically link references and Table of Contents with figures. Use at your own discretion.
  • Leave yourself enough time AFTER your defence to make revisions and submit final copy to the library before the post-graduate grace period ends.
  • To reduce last-minute stress, plan to defend NO LATER THAN the last week of class, finals week or the week after graduation.

Sample Timeline- 16 week semester

Week 1 Submit Petition to Graduate form to ME office, write outline of thesis
Week 1-9 Write roughly 8-10 pages of text per week, complete research, submit chapters for corrections
Week 7 or 8 Select committee members, arrange time, date, and room for defense, and order MS warrant IF you want your name to appear in the graduation program
Week 10-13 Make revisions, add table of contents, preface, acknowledgements, appendices, references, list of figures, list of tables, nomenclature, and more text if needed
Week 14-15 Prepare/rehearse oral defense, submit final draft of thesis to committee members
Week 16 Pick up MS warrant and transcripts, prepare approval page, defend thesis
Week 17 Submit warrant, turn in unbound copy to library, bound copy and CD to SEL, and department check out sheet to Linda
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