Science Education

Thesis or Non-Thesis?

In addition to slight differences in course requirements, the main difference between the thesis and non-thesis option is the extent of independent research and creative activity of the final product.  Students choosing the thesis option are expected to do an extensive, independent and original data collection research study. Students anticipating further graduate work (such as a Doctoral degree) are advised to choose the thesis option. The Non-thesis option requires a slightly less extensive (although still rigorous) product but additional course credits.

When deciding which route to follow on your program, the main things to consider are your goals for your master's program and your own professional goals and interests. Listed below are issues to consider when choosing between the thesis and non-thesis options:

Consider the Thesis Option if:

Consider the Non-Thesis Option if:

  • You are interested in conducting some form of research.
  • You have a specific researchable question in mind.
  • You are considering further graduate work (possibly toward a PhD or EdD).
  • You are interested in a little more course work in content and electives.
  • You would prefer less emphasis on research.
  • One of the non-thesis project options fits your situation well.

Regardless of which option is chosen, all final products require a formal proposal to your advisor and committee/outside reader, a significant amount of writing, and final presentation.  Each of these items will be evaluated by the criteria listed on the Science Education MA Final Project Rubric.  See the individual Thesis and Non-thesis links for additional information on each option.

Science Education Guidelines for thesis/non-thesis completion

There are two stages to passing the final project: One is the oral presentation of the project, and the other is the written document. If a student does not initially pass the oral presentation, he/she will be given one additional chance to successfully present the project. If a student does not pass the oral presentation on the second try, he/she will not be allowed to graduate with the M.A. in Science Education, including the Earth Science and Physics emphasis programs (i.e. student will be terminated from the program).

Following the oral presentation, committee members will generally request minor or major changes to the written document. These changes should be made in consultation with the faculty advisor. Again, care should be taken to complete all changes requested before the document is given back to the committee/outside reader, as the committee/outside reader may recommend against passing a document that does not meet the requirements after two additional rounds of revision (beyond the document as originally presented to the committee/outside reader). If the advisor, with input from the committee/outside reader, does not pass the written document after the revisions, the student will not be allowed to graduate with the M.A. in Science Education, including the Earth Science and Physics emphasis programs (i.e. student will be terminated from the program).