Graduate Studies

Culminating Activities, Thesis, and Project

Culminating Activities are typical in master’s programs as an opportunity for students to demonstrate their mastery of the discipline as well as their ability to integrate learning from their coursework, internships, lab, and fieldwork. At Chico State, each department chooses its own Culminating Activity that ranges from a written or oral exam, thesis, project, professional paper, or creative work. Often students are given a choice to select a culminating activity that best fits their skills and interests.

Graduate students should consult with their graduate coordinator for advising on their culminating activity options within their discipline. It is also highly recommended that each graduate student carefully review the requirements for their program in the University Catalog.

The applicable deadline for completion of your Thesis/Project or Oral/Comprehensive Exam is posted at Important Dates and Deadlines.

Students completing a thesis or project are required to complete an oral defense/examination related to their work.

Although the protocol varies between departments, the oral examination committee is usually composed of the members of the graduate advisory committee and may include the department graduate coordinator and additional faculty who have research and/or teaching specialization closely related to the thesis/project topic.

Some departments use non-university specialists in the content area as members when appropriate.

The deadline for the oral examination is always the same as that for the submission of the thesis/project. However, orals should be scheduled well in advance of this deadline to allow for last-minute content changes that might be required by the committee.

Scheduling the oral examination is initiated by the candidate. The committee chair should first be contacted to verify that the thesis/project has progressed to the point where it may be defended. With most departments, the entire work should be completed.

The candidate and/or chair will determine a time and date for the examination agreeable to all members of the graduate advisory committee and will announce this date to the department, college, and the Office of Graduate Studies at least a week beforehand. It is important that the Office of Graduate Studies be notified of the scheduled defense in advance so that a Final Progress Sheet (PDF) (PDF) can be prepared.

Thesis and Project Submission

The Office of Graduate Studies will conduct a final clearance review, ensuring all submission documents are complete. Learn more about how to submit your thesis or project on the Thesis/Project Submission page

Final Progress Sheet

Notify the Office of Graduate Studies when you have scheduled your thesis defense, project presentation, or other culminating activity, and request the preparation of the Final Progress Sheet (PDF) (PDF). (If you need special accommodation to access this document, please contact the Office of Accessible Technology and Services.)

The Final Progress Sheet is normally sent to your graduate advisory committee chair or graduate coordinator but may also be requested for pick up at the Office of Graduate Studies. This form, when signed by your Graduate Advisory Committee, serves as notification of your completion of the culminating activity component of your program.

Your thesis defense, project presentation, or other culminating activity option should be scheduled far enough in advance of the published deadline to allow adequate time to make any revisions or corrections required and complete any necessary follow-up by that date.

ScholarWorks Repository

The ScholarWorks Repository should be the first place you visit before you start to write your thesis. ScholarWorks is a digital repository for scholarly work created by the faculty, staff, and students of California State University. Whereas the culminating activity used to be bound and shelved in the Library, now all culminating activities are on ScholarWorks.

Every thesis and project that has been approved by the Office of Graduate Studies since fall 2009 is available in ScholarWorks.

ScholarWorks will present working examples—excellent models— of how to structure your thesis per the University format guidelines. It is also an excellent resource to help you find other committee members who have the same interests as you and might be willing to serve on your committee. You can also see what kind of scholarship your peers have produced, and what kind of writing you will be expected to produce.

Warning: Do not attempt to follow the exact format of previously completed theses and projects on ScholarWorks: guidelines are always changing. Further, not all theses and projects have the same structure. The University format should remain consistent and uniform for all disciplines.