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M.S. Thesis

A thesis is the only option for students pursuing the Master of Science in Educational Technology degree.

Students are required to get advisor permission, write and defend a full proposal, in order to register for thesis credits. Recommended only for strong writers.

If you are considering or required to write a thesis for your degree, below is basic information that guides you through the process of writing and defending your thesis proposal. The proposal is written and defended the semester prior to enrolling in thesis units. You should review this information early in your degree program so you are able to complete your program by your planned deadline.

FAQ for Thesis Writing

  1. How do I decide if I should take comprehensive exams, write a thesis or complete a project?

    You may not have an option, depending on your degree and your catalog year. First, find the program development form for your specific degree and year. If you are indeed required to complete a thesis, or have the option to choose to do so, speak with your advisor.  Your advisor is qualified to help you understand your unique needs and skills, as well as which option will help you meet your professional and learning goals.

    What are your long-term goals?  If you anticipate applying to a doctoral program, the writing skills involved in completing a thesis or project will be invaluable. Do you enjoy writing?  If not, then a thesis or project may not be for you, as there is an emphasis on the writing process for both the thesis and project.  Do you enjoy taking courses, and do well studying for exams?  Then a comprehensive exam may be a good option for you, as there are extra elective units required for those taking comprehensive exams.  However, start by talking with your advisor.

  2. What’s the difference between a thesis and a project?

    A thesis is an original piece of scholarly work.  Your thesis will ask a question, or suggest a hypothesis, that your research then explores.  You will collect data, analyze data, share findings and draw conclusions.  A project assumes a similar form, but the emphasis is put on creating a project, not on collecting original data.  A project will still review research, discuss your project design, evaluate your work and discuss your findings. Theses are typically longer in written length than projects, although projects might involve many hours of project design.

  3. I’m a creative person and would like to complete a project for my school.  However, I’m not a strong writer.  Would a project be a good option for me?
  4. Probably not.  Although the writing for a project isn’t as intense or detailed as a thesis, there is extensive writing involved.  You will need to master a scholarly approach to writing, and you will be guided through that process by your advisor, your committee, and this tutorial.
  5. I’m not a great writer, but I’d really like to try a thesis.  Is this an option?

    Of course. Many students become strong writers through the process of developing a proposal or thesis.  You must be willing to read, learn and apply your learning. You must be willing to master a style of writing that will probably be unfamiliar to you.

  6. When do I start my proposal?

    See the timelime below. For specific dates, check the graduate calendar or check with your advisor.  This tutorial will lead you through the proposal writing process.

  7. Can I choose another advisor to chair my committee?

    Absolutely. It is appropriate and acceptable to choose an advisor with whom you work well or who is an expert in your topic area.  Speak to the advisor with whom you are interested in chairing your committee.  If they agree, you will file a change of advisor form.  Your chair will then assist you in suggesting or locating other committee members if you are unable to complete your committee.

Timeline for Thesis Writing

StepsTime Period
CONSIDER: Begin thinking about a possible thesis/project as soon as possible.  As you go through your classes, consider topics/areas for reviewing literature that may provide a background for a thesis/project.Beginning of program.
PLAN: Talk with your advisor about your thesis/project idea.  When you have completed 18 credits,  make sure that your Application for Admission to Candidacy form and Advisory Committee forms are filed.  The application for graduation must be filed six months prior to graduation.1-2 semesters before completing all courses except for thesis/project units.
WRITE: Working with your advisor-- complete a three chapter proposal following program and university guidelines. After your advisor approves your proposal, ask two other faculty members if they are willing to serve on your committee.  If your project/thesis requires the use of human subjects, you will need to work with your advisor in filing an application with the Institutional Research Board.Last semester of courses, prior to enrolling for project/thesis credit.
DEFEND: Once your advisor has approved the proposal, contact each of your committee members and give them an opportunity to review your proposal.  Set up a meeting with the entire committee (including the advisor who serves as the chair of the committee) to defend your proposal. Give committee members at least two weeks to review your proposal before the proposal defense.  The proposal defense is generally done by conference call.Last semester of courses, prior to enrolling for project/thesis credit.
APPROVAL TO PROCEED: Your committee will either accept or reject your proposal; typically, the committee accepts the proposal with modifications.Prior to enrollment for project/thesis credit.
The proposal (with agreed upon modifications) becomes a contract between you and your committee. In essence, it is the "syllabus" for the 6 credits you will earn of project or thesis credits.
ENROLL: Register in EDTECH 591 Project or EDTECH 593 Thesis for 1 - 6 credits for your project or thesis.  Students should estimate the time needed to complete the project/thesis and register accordingly. Remember, you must be enrolled the semester that you plan on graduating.Semester you plan to take project/thesis credits.
FINAL WRITING: Completing the thesis/project typically takes at least one to two semesters.  During that time, you work primarily with your advisor, keeping him/her informed of your progress.Last one to two semesters of program.
FINAL DEFENSE: Once your advisor has reviewed the completed thesis/project, you should again meet with each of your committee members to receive feedback prior to your final defense.  Once this has been done, you will need to schedule a final defense meeting with all members of your committee.  Again, give the committee members at least two weeks to review your completed thesis/project prior to the meeting.  Be aware of the Graduate College deadlines for defending your project/thesis which vary according to semester calendars, but typically occur about mid-April and mid-November.  For the current semester deadlines, check the University calendar.Final semester of program.
FINAL ACCEPTANCE: Your committee will either accept or reject your project/thesis; typically, the committee accepts the project/thesis with modifications.Final semester of program.
EDITS & FILING: Any changes or additions to the thesis/project must be done right away as you will need to submit the completed product to Jerry Foster for final department review.  When changes have been approved, you forward paper to the Graduate College on 25% cotton paper.Final semester of program.
Relax and CELEBRATE--you're through!As you can see, this process takes "time."  For most people, it takes about a year to write the proposal, have it approved and revised, complete the project or study, and have it approved and revised.

Thesis Documents, Forms, & Examples

The formatting of your document should follow the Boise State University Standards for Preparation of Theses & Projects. We also require all work to be done in APA format. The main differences between the Standards for Preparation and APA style have to do with formatting and margins. The left margin should be set to 1.5 inches; and there should be 2 inches of space from the top of the page to the top of a Heading 1 heading (such as, ABSTRACT, TABLE OF CONTENTS, CHAPTER 1, etc). Other differences in formatting include heading styles and format, and pagination. When in doubt, contact your thesis chair.



Resources: Texts and websites

Recommended Texts:

  • American Psychological Association (2001). The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington: American Psychological Association.
  • Locke, L., Spirduso, W., & Silverman, S. (2000).  Proposals that work: A guide for planning dissertations and grant proposals. (4th ed.).  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Heppner, P. P., & Heppner, M.J.  2004).  Writing and publishing your thesis, dissertation & research: A guide for students in the helping professions.  Belmont, CA:  Brooks/Cole.

Additional Texts:

  • Ogden, T. E., & Goldberg, I.A. (2002).  Research proposals: A guide to success. (3rd ed.).  San Diego: Academic Press.
  • Punch, K. F. (2000).  Developing effective research proposals.  Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.


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