A thesis is defined as the written product of a systematic study of a significant topic. Within the body of the paper, the student identifies the problem, states the major assumptions, explains the significance of the undertaking, sets forth the sources for and methods of gathering information, and analyzes the data, evidence or patterns to offer a conclusion or recommendation. The finished product provides clear evidence of originality, critical and independent thinking, and organization and format, as appropriate to the discipline. Normally, an oral defense of the thesis is required.
A project is a significant undertaking appropriate to the fine and applied arts or in professional fields, although it may be an appropriate culminating experience in other fields as well. It provides clear evidence of originality, independent and critical thinking, appropriate form and organization, and a rationale. It is described and summarized in a manner that documents the project’s significance, objectives, methodology, main findings or outcomes, and a conclusion or recommendation.
A comprehensive examination is an assessment of the student’s ability to integrate the knowledge of the area, show critical and independent thinking and demonstrate mastery of the subject matter. Departments set their own policies and procedures for such exams. Each academic department or program that offers a comprehensive exam must provide students with a written policy statement, in advance of the exam, that includes: (a) the approximate timing when comprehensive exams shall be administered; (b) the format of the exam; (c) general topical emphases that define the content of the exam; (d) method of assessment of the examination and the number of readers who will evaluate the student’s responses; and (e) options for retaking a portion or all of the exam in those instances where the student does not demonstrate adequate proficiency. A minimum of two full-time faculty members serve as evaluators of the comprehensive exam’s quality and adequacy for the culminating experience.
An oral defense of either a thesis or a project normally includes a presentation by the master’s candidate to a group of faculty capable of assessing the quality of the student’s work or a period of questioning directed to the master’s candidate by the faculty group. Oral defenses should include at least three faculty members, with one designated as the student’s supervisory committee chair; committees can include more than three faculty members. Any member of the university community may attend the defense. The defense will be held in an appropriate academic environment in real time. The oral defense, normally a graded pass or fail event, is documented by a signed statement attesting to the outcome of the defense. Such records must be complete enough to afford protection for both the student and the faculty members involved.
The Ed.D. dissertation is the written product of systematic, rigorous research on a significant educational issue and in accordance with an approved proposal. It shall demonstrate originality, critical and independent thinking, appropriate form and organization, and a rationale for the research problem examined. The dissertation shall identify the research problem and question(s), state the major theoretical perspective, explain the significance of the undertaking, relate it to the relevant scholarly and professional literature, set forth the appropriate sources for the methods of gathering and analyzing the data, and offer a conclusion or recommendation. An oral defense of the dissertation is required.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice doctoral project is defined as the written product of systematic, rigorous research on a significant advanced nursing practice issue. It shall evidence originality, critical and independent thinking, appropriate form and organization, and a rationale. The doctoral project shall reflect a command of the research literature and shall demonstrate the student’s mastery of evidence-based practice at the doctoral level. The written component of the doctoral project shall be organized in an appropriate form and shall identify the research problem and question(s), state the major theoretical perspectives, explain the significance of the undertaking, relate it to the relevant scholarly and professional literature, identify the methods of gathering and analyzing data, and offer a conclusion or recommendation.
Individual student work shall include exhibitions in which individual work is clearly identified but displayed alongside the work of others. Individual student work shall also include accompanied artistic performances or performances rendered in ensemble, in which individual student performances are clearly identifiable. In programs that require more than one culminating experience, at least one culminating experience must be based on individual student work. Students whose programs require a culminating experience that is undertaken in groups shall receive an individual assessment based on a component of the work identifiable as authored or created by each individual student.
Publication Procedures for Theses and Dissertations
Theses and dissertations are submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies for formatting review, publication in a scholarly database and final graduation clearance. Students completing a thesis or dissertation must submit their manuscript electronically by the deadline posted on the Graduate Studies website in the semester of graduation (typically six weeks before the end of classes).
Prior to submission to Graduate Studies, the student’s thesis or dissertation committee must approve their final paper. A thesis committee is composed of a minimum of three faculty members who supervise and approve the thesis. A dissertation committee is composed of at least two committee members. A qualified person who is not a regular CSUF faculty member may serve as an additional committee member.
Format Guidelines and Style Manuals
All university format guidelines are included in the Thesis/Dissertation Manual and Thesis/Dissertation Template, which are available on the Graduate Studies website. Please use only the most current versions of these documents. It is the student’s responsibility to make certain that all current requirements are met.
The student’s committee is responsible for the academic content and English usage in the thesis or dissertation and for the student’s correct use of forms of documentation and bibliography. In addition to the university format guidelines, each academic unit must select a supplementary style manual to be followed in matters of documentation and bibliography. If the supplementary style manual presents regulations that conflict with the Thesis/Dissertation Manual or Template, university regulations take precedence.
It is solely the student’s responsibility to ensure their paper meets all university requirements prior to final submission.
Submission and Review Procedures
- Approval Signatures - When the final draft is completed, the student submits the manuscript to the Office of Graduate studies and each member of the committee will be contacted to approve the manuscript. Non-availability of one member of the committee is not an adequate reason for acceptance of signatures by less than the full committee. No changes or additions to the manuscript will be allowed after submission.
- University Thesis/Dissertation Reader - The thesis or dissertation is reviewed by the University Reader after the faculty have signed off. The student will be notified of any revisions or corrections that need to be made. Failure to make the required changes may result in a delayed graduation date. Final approval on format is given by the reader via email. Submissions are read and processed in the order in which they are received.
- Notification of Thesis/Dissertation Completion - The grade for the thesis or dissertation is reported in the usual manner to the registrar by the appropriate faculty of record for the course. The University Reader notifies the Office of Graduate Studies when all thesis or dissertation requirements are met.