Completion of an acceptable proposal marks the end of the first major stage of the research process. Planning and completing a thesis - which are some of the most rewarding academic experiences - are also among the most challenging.
There are several steps in the proposal development process:
1) Around the time that you are finishing your sixth course you should begin contacting your Research Advisor to work on identifying a research topic and to consider realistic ways to investigate research questions related to your topic.
2) After completing at least eight courses towards your degree (except for candidates in Sustainability who need to complete at least six courses), and after you have discussed possible thesis topics with your Research Advisor, along with doing any other prework described in the prerequisites section for the Crafting the Thesis Proposal tutorial or course, you can register for the tutorial or course. You'll need to register for the Crafting the Thesis Proposal course more than a year in advance of your desired graduation date.
During the Crafting the Thesis Proposal tutorial or course, your instructor
- Will assist you in formulating your thesis research plans
- Will help guide you through the process of developing a successful thesis proposal
After completing the Crafting the Thesis Proposal tutorial or course, your Research Advisor
- Will help connect you with a thesis director, once your proposal has been approved
Developing a specific research problem out of a more general topic is perhaps the most difficult and important phase of the entire research process.
Important Things to Consider
- Success in obtaining a thesis director will be influenced by the quality and topic of your proposal
- Copies of successful proposals and theses are available in the Resources and Examples sections
- Make sure that you have the necessary technological skills and resources to meet the demands of creating your proposal (and thesis), e.g. a working computer with access to a printer, as well as software you might need for statistical analysis if that will be part of your project
If there is a Proseminar in your program
- This needs to be completed before being accepted as an ALM candidate
- In the proseminar you’ll learn to identify appropriate research problems and develop the research skills necessary to investigate them
You should be prepared to invest not only time, but sometimes money as well in your project. When considering your thesis project please keep in mind the potential cost of books, travel, laboratory equipment, office supplies, and so forth, necessary for you to do your thesis work. These costs are typically the student's responsibility - there are no separate thesis funds to help with this.