If you wish to pursue a more academic or research-oriented career, the thesis option will provide you with valuable experience.
You will be required to submit a thesis proposal to your graduate committee for their approval. If they give you their approval, they will sign the Permission to Register Form. You must submit a thesis proposal to your committee the semester prior to registering for thesis hours.
The thesis you are planning to write should influence your decision about the faculty serving on your graduate committee. You should enlist committee members with expertise in the area you will be pursuing in your thesis.
Once your committee approves your proposal, you will file the Permission to Register Form, pursue research activity related to your thesis, and complete the final document.
When the committee approves the final work, a meeting is scheduled and the thesis is presented to interested faculty for their approval. Six credit hours will be included on your program of study for the thesis when the requirements have been fulfilled and a copy of the thesis is on file in the graduate office.
Requirements to Begin Thesis
Before you register for graduate thesis credits (SOC 699), you must:
- have regular standing with the Graduate College—no student with provisional standing may register for thesis hours
- have completed all 31 hours of coursework required for the degree. Exception: If you must maintain “full-time” status, you may petition your graduate committee to admit you to register for thesis hours with 28 of coursework complete. However, you must take your final three units of coursework at the same time you are pursuing your thesis units.
- have formed a graduate committee (see Graduate Committee Policy in the Student Guide) and filed a signed Thesis/Internship Permission to Register Form
- have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on all graduate coursework
have received approval of thesis proposal from your committee chair and committee members. have filed all approved documentation required with the graduate coordinator’s office
The thesis proposal includes:
- A statement of the problem/research question
- Review of the literature that:
- outlines the theoretical and substantive areas you plan to examine
- conveys your knowledge of the literature
- highlights theoretical frameworks, including key themes and concepts that you feel will help you understand your research question
- Methodological/measurement procedures, including discussion of:
- research design
- cases or subjects used (if applicable) sampling design
- data collection procedure
- validity and reliability of measurements
- data analysis procedure
- quantitative: specify statistical analyses planned, including statistical software
- qualitative: specify use of coding scheme, use of computer software in the analyses, historical documents, participant observation techniques, unobtrusive measures, etc.
- statement of limitations
- IRB approval (if applicable)
- Tentative calendar for completion for each phase or chapter, which enables coordination of deadlines and realistic turnaround time for rewrites
After Proposal Approval
When your committee approves the proposal and signs the permission to register form, and you have registered for the thesis hours, you may then conduct the research activity related to the thesis and complete the final document.
Research involving human participants very often requires approval from the NAU Institutional Review Board.
Writing Your Thesis
Although all of these components constitute a thesis, you can be creative in how you title and organize your thesis—depending on the advice of your committee chair.
Title Accordion Closed
The title should capture the primary purpose of your thesis; a search of key words should lead a researcher to your work.
Abstract Accordion Closed
An abstract is an overview that is about 300 words in length.
Introduction Accordion Closed
In the introduction, you will:
- introduce your topic
- provide a brief overview of literature you will draw on the methods you use
clearly articulate your research question
Literature Review Accordion Closed
Your literature review should articulate the substantive areas of relevance to your topic as well as the theoretical frameworks you will draw on.
Here you review the literature on the particular subject area you are studying. For example, if you are studying racial segregation in cities, you will offer an overview of the major literature on racial segregation and discuss how your research connects with and potentially adds to that literature.
Here you articulate the major theoretical lenses through which you will examine your topic—such as social psychology, social movement theory, or theories of the state, etc.
You may find yourself wanting to focus on a particular area of literature within a subfield; thus, instead of social psychology you may address symbolic interaction or labeling theory. Students are generally advised to focus on two to three theoretical frameworks of relevance.
How (and Why) to Write a Literature Review
Methods Accordion Closed
- Describe your methodological approach:
- What methods did you use to answer your research question
- What kind of data did you collect?
- What was your research design?
- How did you obtain your data?
- Indicate your level of analysis, your hypothesis or expectations, your sample or participants, etc.
- What type of Data Analysis did you use?
- The data analysis depends on the methods section. Your method (e.g., survey research, in-depth interviews, participant observation, or a content analysis) determines how you will analyzed your data.
- Limitations: Describe the limitations of the methods you have used. Describe any other limitations of your study.
Findings and Discussion Accordion Closed
- Introduce your findings
- Remind the reader what you set out to do
- Place your research in context.
- Organize your data
- If you’ve conducted qualitative research, consider organizing your data into major themes and subthemes. Describe each theme and subtheme and use your qualitative findings to illustrate each.
- If you’ve conducted quantitative research, consider structuring your research findings based on your research questions and hypothesis.
- Analyze, interpret, and synthesize the results
- Discuss how you have answered the research question and how you position yourself within the overall field of knowledge.
- What is your interpretation of your findings? Don’t forget to use your critical thinking skills and sociological analysis.
- Return to the literature. What would the literature (both contextual and theoretical) say about your results? What kinds of questions does the literature raise for your consideration?
Conclusion Accordion Closed
Your conclusion brings your thesis together. Summarize your research findings and also note the limitations of your research. All research has limitations by definition of the focus. However, in addition to these, we generally discover approaches we wish we had taken in the course of doing our research.
It is important to convey these to the community of sociologists so they may anticipate these issues in their research. Furthermore, given your findings, suggest directions for future research and/or directions for social policy or social change.
Consider offering a powerful final message. What would you like the reader to most remember after reading your thesis?
Appendix Accordion Closed
Generally, appendices are used to share the instruments that you used in your research. Depending on your methods, this can include forms related to the Institutional Review Board, such as human subjects consent forms or your interview guides. Additionally, it may include your:
- templates relevant to your research
References Accordion Closed
Be sure to consult the American Sociological Association or the American Psychological Association formats. This will include all the substantive and methodological literature that you cite in your thesis, including:
- journal articles
- web pages with the dates you retrieved them
Formatting Your Thesis Accordion Closed
Review the forms on the Graduate College’s website for thesis formatting.
Defending Your Thesis Accordion Closed
When the committee approves the final work, you will schedule a defense, where you will present and discuss your thesis to your committee and interested faculty for their approval. For a successful defense:
Schedule a time that will work for all three committee members;
Contact the SBS Dean’s Office at 928-523-2672 to reserve a room;
Share this professional accomplishment with others by advertising the defense.
Master’s Oral Exam Form
The committee chair must request from the ETD Coordinator. Your committee will sign this form following your successful thesis defense. Take it to the department office so that a copy can be made and placed in your student file. Hand- carry the original to the Graduate College for processing.
Defense Model Accordion Closed
This is an example model. While it is up to each chair to decide how they wish to proceed with the thesis/internship defense, we encourage all chairs to consider the following:
Defense Format Recommendations
- Brief introductions
- Student presents for about 15 to 20-minutes (details below).
- Community members will have approximately 15 minutes to ask questions.
- Committee members will take turns asking you questions. (60 minutes)
- Student and other non-committee attendees will be asked to leave the room while the committee decides about the status of the thesis defense and discusses any further thesis revisions required. (5-20 minutes)
- Student and others return to the room. Committee shares official decision, discusses with student final revisions, and signs forms (Chair should bring these).
Student should plan on speaking for about 15-20 minutes to give an overview of thesis/internship project. Questions to address in presentation:
- What is the motivation that led you to this research?
- What was your research question?
- What were your methods and key findings? Were there any surprises?
- What literature and theories did you draw on?
- What is the significance of your research?
Encourage students to consider using a PowerPoint to offer clear visuals and highlight key points.
After a Successful Defense Accordion Closed
Six credit hours will be included on your program of study when:
the thesis is approved by the chair and members of your committee the final copy is e-filed with the Graduate College office.