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Graduate Degree Non-Thesis Track

Non-thesis degrees may be chosen by students who prefer broad training in agricultural sciences without an in-depth research experience, while thesis-based degrees are recommended for those students seeking advanced graduate work and professional and research-related careers (Ph.D., D.V.M.). The non-thesis degree plan requires one more additional course than the thesis plan; and instead of writing a thesis, students must develop a professional paper which is smaller in scope than a thesis project.

Students pursuing a non-thesis degree are required to have a major advisor by the beginning of their second semester of enrollment. The major professor will normally be a faculty member specializing in an area of interest to the student and is the individual who supervises the required non-thesis independent study project. The expectation for non-thesis students will be to prepare a professional paper that can matriculate into a peer-reviewed journal for publication. Prior to the final term of enrollment, the non-thesis student must, in consultation with the major professor, select a committee that will administer the final comprehensive examination.

Comprehensive Examination

All candidates for master’s degrees in the Department of Agricultural Sciences must pass a comprehensive final examination administered by the student’s committee. The examination may be oral or written and must cover, at a minimum, the student’s field of concentration and non-thesis project. Students will be expected to be knowledgeable about material from substantive courses as well as core courses. The results of this exam should be reported on the “Master's Comprehensive Examination Report form", which can be downloaded from The Graduate College website and which must be filed with The Graduate College at least 10 days prior to the date of expected graduation.

More information about the professional paper (non-thesis) process can be found in The Graduate Handbook.