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Graduate Degree Thesis Track

Thesis-based degrees are recommended for those students seeking advanced graduate work and professional and research-related careers (Ph.D., D.V.M.). Non-thesis degrees may be chosen by students who prefer broad training in agricultural sciences without an in-depth research experience. 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.

M.S. Thesis Track

Students pursuing a master’s degree with thesis should have a thesis committee approved by the beginning of their second semester of enrollment in the graduate program. The thesis committee is comprised of three or more individuals and is chaired by the thesis advisor. Two of the committee members, the committee chair and another faculty member, should be from the Department of Agricultural Sciences and one faculty member from outside the department. In some instances, all three members may be from the Department of Agricultural Sciences. The chair should be someone whose area of specialization is related to the thesis topic. Students can find areas of specialization on the department homepage, faculty CVs, and ask faculty about their other areas. The chair can provide recommendations for the other committee members.

Unless a faculty member has specifically recruited a student for a specific research project/topic, students should begin the thesis research process by developing ideas about his/her topic (or an area of interest among the sub-disciplines of agricultural sciences), consulting the agriculture faculty pages for a potential committee chair (i.e. major advisor), and consulting with the graduate coordinator. In general, the choice of committee chairperson for the thesis is determined by the faculty member’s interest and expertise in the subject matter proposed by the student – or if the faculty member has specifically recruited the student for a research project.

The student’s thesis committee will be formed by the student in consultation with his/her major advisor during the first semester of enrollment. Students should plan to meet with their major advisors to discuss expectations and progress on the proposal. A student should have the approval of the major advisor before consulting other faculty members to serve on the committee.

Students working on a thesis are expected to enroll in a thesis course (AG 5399A or AG 5399B) each term that they are actively involved in research. Students should enroll in AG 5399A for their first term of thesis research and in AG 5399B for all subsequent terms. While enrolled in AG 5399A the student should prepare a detailed thesis proposal that introduces the project to be investigated, summarizes the relevant background literature, and explains the methodology to be used in carrying out the research. A “Master’s Thesis Proposal form" can be downloaded from The Graduate College website. Submission of an approved thesis proposal to The Graduate College must be completed before the end of the student’s second term of enrollment in AG 5399B. Students pursuing a thesis-based degree must be enrolled in at least one hour of thesis credit during the term in which they graduate.

All students completing a thesis are required to present the results of their research in an open seminar attended by the thesis committee members and other interested individuals, such as faculty and students within and outside the department. Following the public presentation of the thesis, the student must pass a comprehensive examination administered by the thesis committee.

More information about the thesis process, including the proposal, presentation, and comprehensive examination can be found in The Graduate Handbook.