Thesis Track

Model of Progress: Thesis Track

This outlines a general pattern for student progress through the Anthropology Department's Thesis Track MA program. Also included are guidelines for moving through the thesis-writing process.

Click here for a synopsis of the thesis track degree requirements.

Year Term Suggested Activities Notes
Year 1 Fall
  • Meet frequently with your assigned adviser throughout the year
  • Take core courses as available, plus other courses both within and outside department1
  • Check with Foreign Languages department about fulfilling the language requirement (MA only)2
1. A grade below B- in one of the three cores will not satisfy the department requirements for degree completion and students must make arrangements with the instructor to revise coursework or submit additional work in order to meet the requirement. A grade lower than a B- in two graduate courses may be grounds for dismissal from the program following departmental review.

2. Foreign language exams are scheduled periodically. Check with the Foreign Language department for a schedule of exams if you are choosing this option.
  • Take core courses as available and other courses
  • Discuss possible thesis topics with adviser3
  • Discuss methods course with adviser4
  • Begin planning summer internship if applicable
3. You may decide to change advisers later if your research interests or focus changes.

4. Ideally, a student chooses which methods course to take (to satisfy department requirements) after choosing a thesis topic.
  • Course work
  • Identify thesis topic
  • Graduate Student Review letter from faculty
  • Internship
  • Preliminary thesis research
  • Employment, etc.
Year 2 Fall
  • Meet frequently with your adviser throughout the year
  • Take core courses as available plus other courses
  • Work on thesis proposal
  • Form thesis committee and submit GO-16M to the Office of Graduate Studies
  • Most students register for 1-2 credits of Anth 501: Research5
5. Language requirements must be fulfilled by the beginning of fall term; any conditions on admissions must be satisfied.
  • Take core courses as available plus other courses and 1-2 credits of Anth 501: Research.
  • Work on thesis proposal6
6. Students should complete their coursework (exclusive of thesis credits) by the end of their fifth term.
  • Submit thesis proposal for approval (if not submitted in winter)7
  • Register for Anth 503: Thesis credits if thesis approved.
  • Graduate Student Review letter from faculty
7. Students must earn approval on thesis proposals no later than the end of their seventh term in the program. Students will meet with their committee to discuss faculty comments on the written proposal. Incorporating the comments and committee suggestions, students will craft a written reconciliation to guide them in writing their thesis.
  • Thesis research
  • Thesis writing
Year 3  
  • Thesis research
  • Write up thesis
  • Revisions
  • Submit GO-17 to the Office of Graduate Studies
  • Apply for degree
  • Defense8
8. Students admitted Summer 2012 or before must complete the graduate program within five years. Students admitted Fall 2012 and thereafter must complete the graduate program within four years.

The Thesis Process

  • Identify Thesis Topic with help and through discussions with your Adviser
  • Preliminary Research (What else has been written on this topic? Narrow research focus, etc.)
  • Develop a Thesis Proposal. A typical Thesis proposal should be between 1000 and 1250 words, and should include the following elements. Be sure to discuss the proposal format with your adviser, as there can be some variation. Students may find it particularly useful to look at examples of previously accepted thesis proposals available for checkout in the department office (Cramer Hall 141). THIS PROCESS COULD TAKE ONE QUARTER and MANY REVISIONS. (Further information on research design and proposal writing from Berkeley.)
    Thesis Proposals should include:
    1. Title: A short title clearly stating the topic of the thesis.
    2. Statement of purpose or problem: A concise and clear statement of a problem which the research is focused upon. Avoid too broad or highly diffuse general problems, and select one that is manageable as to scope and researchable as to methods and conditions.
    3. Significance of your research: State briefly the significance of the topic or problem chosen. For example, state how 1) it extends, clarifies, probes, or disproves theories or hypotheses or quality and reliability of existing knowledge, OR 2) it provides new means or methods of collecting data or analyzing it, OR 3) it is timely and concerns a current problem and/or a special population group.
    4. Review of the literature: Discussion of the existing materials related to the topic and theories you will use in your research. Briefly indicate how your proposed research fits into existing theoretical or methodological schemes and/or work done by others.
    5. Research and plan design: Include a description of the field site (where applicable) and availability of data, and a detailed and explicit description of methods used. What data are you going to use? How will you obtain it? What analytic operations are you going to perform with the data?
    6. Bibliography: Give complete bibliographic references for all publications cited in the proposal and major references for thesis topic.
    7. Schedule of completion: When will you complete the various phases of the project (data collection, analysis, writing)?
  • If appropriate begin Human Subjects Application (Discuss with your adviser whether your project requires Human Subjects Review. While the Human Subjects Application cannot be submitted until the department has approved your proposal, you should be aware of the human subjects review process as you design your research.)
  • Revise Thesis Proposal
  • Establish Thesis Committee (need 2 individuals besides Adviser). Meet with committee members occasionally to inform them of your progress/timing of completion.
  • After Adviser approves, proposal circulated to Anthropology Faculty, who provide comments.
  • Proposal Approved. Students will meet with their committee to discuss faculty comments on the written proposal. Incorporating the comments and committee suggestions, students will craft a written reconciliation to guide them in writing their thesis.
  • Human Subjects Review (Submit your application to the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects. See applications and guidelines).
  • Thesis Research (Meet with adviser regularly)
  • Write Thesis Draft
  • Revise
  • Submit Draft to Adviser
  • Revise in light of their comments
  • After Adviser approves, submit draft to other committee members. Committee members need AT LEAST TWO weeks to review and consider the draft before a potential defense date is set.
  • Revise
  • After Committee agrees the thesis is ready to defend, finalize schedule defense date (Check Graduate School deadlines . See information on important forms required to set up your thesis defense).
  • Thesis Defense (The defense consists of a public presentation in which the candidate presents a summary of the thesis and important conclusions. A public question-and-answer period is followed by a private meeting with the thesis committee. The committee then meets without the student present to make its decision. Typically, a student passes the exam but is asked to make some revisions to the thesis.)
  • Make necessary changes to thesis in consultation with thesis chair and committee
  • Obtain signatures of committee members on cover sheet
  • Check the Graduate Office Thesis Guidelines for style requirements. We recommend that you ask the Office of Graduate Studies to check your thesis for correct style before making the final copies. A copy of the current guidelines is included in your orientation packet.
  • NOTE: it can take several months from first draft to final submission. For example, if you want to graduate by the end of spring term, give a draft of your thesis to your adviser in early January. Also, faculty are not on contract during Summer Quarter. Faculty may be able to serve on your committee and work with you on your proposal or thesis, or be part of a thesis defense during the summer, but do not assume they will be able to.