VII. Thesis Requirements

1. Thesis Committee

Each student who wishes to complete a thesis will form a master’s thesis committee. This committee will be established by the thesis chairperson and the student. The Graduate Director or Department Chair must sign an Appointment of Master’s Thesis Committee Form prior to enrollment for thesis hours.

The form will be signed on the understanding that the student has convened a thesis committee consisting of a Chairperson plus two committee members (one member will be from the department and one member will be from outside the department), presented a short prospectus that is acceptable to the committee, and has completed 18 hours of approved graduate coursework.

2. Thesis Submission

After the thesis has been completed, the student must submit an electronic copy of it to the graduate school using Committee Acceptance Form for Electronic Thesis or Dissertation.

An Electronic Thesis or Dissertation (ETD) is simply the digital (electronic) representation of your thesis or dissertation, and must meet the formatting requirements described in “A Student Guide to Preparing Electronic Theses and Dissertations”.

3.   Beginning Work on a Thesis

Registration for six hours of CJ 599 Thesis generally follows completion of all coursework.  A student may register for 1 to 6 thesis hours in an academic semester only after 18 hours of coursework have been completed.  The academic policy of the university requires that when a student serves as a Graduate Assistant, he or she must enroll as a full-time student (9 hours). A student taking approved classes for their program plan may register for as many additional thesis hours as needed to maintain full time status.  Discuss your plans for registration with the Director of Graduate Studies in Criminal Justice and the faculty member directing your thesis.

Students are encouraged to select a thesis topic in their first semester.  It is acceptable to identify a chair  by the end of the first semester of study.  The chair will work with the student to develop a committee and a plan for accomplishment of the project.  The astute student will develop a tentative draft of his or her prospectus as the final paper in the methods course.  He or she will also develop a theoretical basis for the project during a theory class.  When possible, other papers will be designed to focus on specific aspects of the proposed project   The organization of the thesis follows the most current edition of the APA Manual by the American Psychological Association.

Students are encouraged to begin thinking about their topic early and discuss their ideas with faculty.  The significant steps in writing a thesis include the oral defense of a student’s prospectus which should occur in the semester before the degree is to be completed, data collection and writing the paper, and the oral defense of the student’s product.

All thesis students must notify the Graduate Director of their thesis topic and committee membership prior to taking their hours. Thesis hours should not commence until 18 hours of coursework have been completed.  A passing grade for thesis coursework indicates that sufficient written work has been completed toward one thesis.

4.  The Thesis

A thesis is based on the collection and analysis of appropriate data to investigate an empirical question, describe a phenomenon of scholarly interest, test a hypothesis or theory, or examine a generalization or theoretical proposition. Methods should be appropriate to the nature of the scholarly inquiry, whether those methods are experimental, naturalistic, phenomenological, laboratory-based, field-based, or some other approach including a combination of methods.

Students select one criminal justice faculty member as the Chair of the Thesis Committee.  The student and Thesis Committee Chair discuss identification of two additional committee members, one from criminal justice and one from either another department on the UA campus or from an off-campus accredited university.  The outside member must be recommended for a courtesy adjunct faculty status appointment by the department to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to the Dean of the Graduate School.  A copy of the person’s academic resume should be requested by the department chair and submitted to the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Each semester the Graduate School publishes a schedule of deadlines for students who are writing a thesis. Students must consult the schedule and submit their thesis in accordance with the schedule.  A completed copy of the thesis must be electronically submitted to the Department at least eight weeks before the date the candidate expects to receive the degree. Theses must comply with the regulations set out in the Graduate School’s “A Student Guide to Preparing Theses and Dissertations,” on their website.  This guide is located under the Student/Faculty Resources section and then in the Theses and Dissertation part of that section.

While these deadlines are firm, the graduate school will continue to accept theses for review up to the end of the term.  While you will not formally graduate until the following semester, a letter of completion will be issued by the Graduate School on completion of all degree requirements so that you can demonstrate degree completion to potential employers.

5. Thesis Outline

The production of an outstanding thesis is the highest level of demonstrated excellence for a master’s candidate.  In most cases, the thesis is empirical; however, a thesis may be theoretical.  While the truly outstanding thesis will make a contribution to the literature or to practice, a well executed empirical project that does not substantiate the hypotheses advanced will still be considered to have demonstrated competence.  The following is a suggested outline that can be modified by the candidate’s committee to reflect the needs of the specific line of inquiry.

Outline for the Thesis Prospectus

See the Graduate School “A Student Guide to Preparing Theses and Dissertations” for front pages and format.


  • Introduction—General statement of the problem and its importance
  • Literature Review
    • General Overview
    • Background of the Problem
    • Recent Research Related to the Problem
    • Theoretical Perspectives
    • Discussion of Specific Research Questions
  • Methodology
    • Variables
    • Hypotheses
    • Instrument
    • Setting
    • Population
    • Sample
    • Plan for Collection of Data
    • Plan for Analysis of Data

For the Final Thesis, expand the Literature Review and add

  • Findings
  • Discussion
  • Summary and Recommendations

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