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Thesis and Dissertation

Composition with books on the table

Master’s Degree Thesis

A thesis is the culminating project for the master’s degree. Students in the master’s program perform research on a specific subject to demonstrate their knowledge. Students typically refer to the research of others to explore ideas and then provide a detailed analysis of their findings.  A thesis should demonstrate a student’s level of critical and analytical thinking.

Two options are available for students to publish their research: (i) a traditional M.S. thesis or (ii) a manuscript-based M.S. thesis. A traditional thesis is a comprehensive collection of your research effort typically comprised of five chapters: (i) Introduction, (ii) Background Information, (iii) Experimental Methods, (iv) Results and Discussion and (v) Conclusion. The manuscript-based thesis enables students who have prepared one or more peer-reviewed publications as part of their research to present and defend a thesis comprised of the publication(s). The Major Advisor will guide the student towards either the traditional M.S. thesis or the manuscript-based thesis.

Doctoral Degree Dissertation

A doctoral dissertation presents a new and undiscovered concept within a specific field.  While students typically reference the research of others, they use the information to guide their own research to come up with an original hypothesis. A dissertation is an in-depth study that demonstrates a students ability to use critical thinking and analytical skills to further the understanding of a specific topic.

Two options are available for students to publish their research: (i) a traditional Ph.D. dissertation or (ii) a manuscript-based Ph.D. dissertation. A traditional dissertation is a comprehensive collection of your research effort typically comprised of five chapters: (i) Introduction, (ii) Background Information, (iii) Experimental Methods, (iv) Results and Discussion and (v) Conclusion. The manuscript-based dissertation enables students who have prepared multiple peer-reviewed publications as part of their research to present and defend a dissertation comprised of these publications. Your Major Advisor will guide you towards either the traditional Ph.D. dissertation or the manuscript-based dissertation. For the manuscript-based option, at least one of the manuscripts must be in-press prior to your defense. Any additional manuscripts must be submitted prior to your defense.

Resources and Support

The Boise State University Thesis and Dissertation Office  provides step-by-step guidance through each stage of the thesis and dissertation process. From ScholarWorks instructions to writing workshops and clinics, the Thesis and Dissertation Office can help ensure that students meet all of the requirements for a quality culminating experience.

Schedule Your Proposal or Defense

Materials Science and Engineering graduate students should schedule their proposal or defense at least two weeks prior to their intended presentation date. You will be contacted within two business days after you complete the schedule form to finalize your presentation plans.

View the MSE proposal and defense calendar and attend an upcoming proposal or defense.

Manuscript-based Ph.D. Dissertation or M.S. Thesis

A manuscript-based dissertation/thesis options provides a number of benefits to the student, the Major Advisor and the scientific community: for instance, experience in the manuscript writing process, an easily accessible demonstration of original research and ability to communicate, timely dissemination of results, and a direct measure of the investment provided by funding agencies.

While the benefits are substantial, the manuscript-based option will challenge students as the process for peer- reviewed publications is rigorous and the journal articles will need to be supplemented with additional information in order to ensure a cohesive dissertation/thesis.

One first author manuscript is required for the M.S. Thesis option. Multiple first-author manuscripts are required for the manuscript-based Ph.D. Dissertation option. For M.S. students, your manuscript(s), at a minimum, should be submitted by the time you defend. For Ph.D. students, at least one manuscript must be in press by the time you defend. All others must be submitted by the time you defend.

Manuscript-based Format

For a manuscript-based Ph.D. dissertation or M.S. thesis, each publication stands as a chapter. As publications are very concise documents of research findings, supplemental text must be included within the dissertation/thesis to not only support the publication, but to also seamlessly integrate the publication into the dissertation/thesis. As such, in addition to the requirements outlined in the Standards and Guidelines for Theses and Dissertations handbook, a manuscript-based Ph.D. dissertation/thesis must include the following:

  • An abstract that clearly and succinctly summarizes the overarching scope of work that includes the motivation, hypothesis and objectives of the research, approach, key results and concluding remarks.
  • The first chapter should be an introduction that includes the background needed to clearly relate the publication(s) to the entire body of work associate with the thesis/dissertation.
  • For each publication (i.e., chapter), a paragraph must be included prior to the references that clearly specifies the role and contributions of the author and co-authors.
  • A concluding chapter that outlines the principal findings and implications of the total research effort.
  • In addition, the Major Advisor or supervisory committee may request additional supplemental information (introduction, background, literature review, methods/experimental, results, discussion and appendices) that supports the total research effort.

The dissertation/thesis in final form must conform to the standards of the Graduate College. Refer to Chapter Two of the Boise State University Graduate College Standards and Guidelines for Theses and Dissertations handbook for detailed instructions and requirements. A Dissertation/Thesis that does not conform to the Standards and Guidelines for Theses and Dissertations will be returned by the Graduate College to the student for corrections.

Questions?

The Materials Science and Engineering academic programs manager is here to help.

Jessica Economy
Academic Programs Manager
jessicaeconomy@boisestate.edu
(208)426-4896
Schedule a meeting with Jessica