General Requirements for a Completed Master's Degree

Research and Thesis

The Master's degree program provides an opportunity for a student to learn how to use the scientific method. Practically, the student learns how to proceed with a research project, obtain and analyze data, present his/her findings, and relate them to available knowledge in the field. The research project should be well defined and should be one that can be completed within one year (or at most, two years). The duration of the programme (one to two years) should not be prolonged by expectations of a comprehensive research program. In general the goal is to formulate and test one hypothesis well. The project should not expand to include new techniques and concepts unless this can be done without prolonging the duration of the project. Students and supervisors must realize that a MSc project and thesis are not the highest level of science that could be done but rather a practical compromise that considers the limited time available. It is desirable that the research undertaken for the MSc degree contains an element of originality and it is important that the work be scientifically valid, carefully analyzed, and well presented. The MSc degree is an intermediate graduate degree. Substantial benefits are to be gained by completing it, because experience is gained in all phases of a limited research project.

The thesis should be presented as concisely as possible. Traditionally, the components are: an introduction to review the literature and define the problems; adequate methods and results sections; a discussion section to assess the findings and relate them to other work in the field; and an associated reference section and summary. The format is flexible and the student is allowed considerable latitude in presentation. The thesis can take the form of a scientific paper, with additional introduction to include a survey of relevant literature; and, if necessary, an appendix to contain data not included in the main body of the thesis but of possible value in its assessment, or of interest to future researchers. This format provides training in writing a scientific paper for the student, and could advance publication of the project, thereby maximizing the use of available research time. The student must compose the thesis himself/herself, but may obtain guidance from the supervisor and supervisory committee members.

In addition to writing and defending a thesis, Master's students must obtain a grade of at least B+ in required course work. The requirement for the Master's degree is one full-credit equivalent course (this may be taken as one full-credit course, or two half-credit courses).

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