Culminating Activities


The thesis is a research study. To conduct the study, a research question is posed, a hypothesis is formulated, a method for collecting data is designed, data is collected and analyzed, and conclusions are drawn. Of course, a review of literature related to the research question is completed. The thesis is a well-written document in four or five chapters in which each component of the research is reported. Upon completion of the thesis, the MA candidate makes a formal, public presentation of his or her findings.


The project is a scholarly activity that results in the development of a solution to a specific educational problem. The MA candidate identifies an educational problem, often in his or her school or district. A review of the research elucidates approaches that others have taken to similar educational problems. A solution to the specific problem is designed, and materials and/or activities to enact the solution are developed. The project is reported in a well-written document of three or four chapters in which each component of the problem and its solution are described. An appendix often contains materials developed to enact the solution. Upon completion of the project, the MA candidate makes a formal, public presentation of his or her findings.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination is a writing exercise completed in one day. The MA candidate responds to questions related to the themes of the MA program and their specialty area with essays that demonstrate an understanding of research and practice. Reviews of literature in education, conducted throughout the program and updated in EDMA 696, will be critical tools for preparing for the comprehensive examination. The comprehensive exam is scored by a faculty committee elected annually.

School of Education Procedures

For theses and projects, your MA adviser will be an important source of information and assistance. Your MA adviser will chair your two-member MA advisory committee. You will select one other faculty member for the committee.

The Graduate School sets a deadline by which theses and projects must be submitted each semester for graduation that semester. Your final thesis or project must be approved by your MA advisory committee, the School of Education graduate coordinator, and the Graduate School. Your oral presentation must be completed by the Graduate School deadline. Plan to submit a copy of your thesis or project to the graduate coordinator two weeks before the Graduate School deadline.

For the comprehensive exam, you do not need to form an MA advisory committee. Your MA adviser will assist your progress toward your degree and must recommend you for the exam by the end of the semester preceding the one in which you will take the exam. The exam is given on only one date each semester. Dates are set three semesters in advance. Your graduation clearance form will be signed by your adviser, the chair of the comprehensive exam committee, and the graduate coordinator.

*See A Guide to Graduate Study for additional information about theses and projects, available at Graduate Studies.