MS Completion Milestones

Dr. Laurie Williams



Here are some milestones for completion of a MS thesis with me as your advisor.  It is important for you to stick to this schedule to have a high-quality thesis and to create some valuable research to contribute.

In the below chart, time T is the semester in which you would like to graduate.  T-1 is one semester before you would like to graduate and so forth.


You must complete these milestones on schedule.  You cannot advance to T-1 until all your T-2 milestones are complete and approved.  As a result, your graduation may be pushed out a semester if you do not complete your milestones on time. 





T-3 or earlier

We need to work together in some capacity.  This may be because you are a student in a class I teach, or we have an independent study project that we work on together.  At the end of this we can mutually decide whether or not we feel we can have a productive research relationship.  I will not sign any plan of work to be your advisor before the completion of this activity.



1.  You complete a topic selection paper.  This paper is approximately four pages and consists of the following section:

a.       Problem, hypothesis, or question

b.       Importance of research (why it is worthy of research)

c.       Theory base for research (more important for PhD)

d.       Significant prior research

e.       Possible research approach or methodology (alternatives)

f.         Potential outcomes of research and importance of each


2.       Once the advisor and the student agree that the above template is completed for a "good" research topic, this is expanded somewhat, 10 pages max.  At this point, we choose your committee members and schedule a meeting with the whole committee to explain the research plans to the faculty.   However, the meeting should help smooth out expectations for all committee members.  We don’t want any surprises at the last minute that you haven’t met your committee’s expectations.  

3.       Write your background section for your thesis paper.



1.  Complete all research activities (now you have your project done, but have not written it up yet).

2.  Your table of contents, background, and all introductory chapters should all be written and reviewed by me. 



1.       Write a journal paper (or possibly a conference paper if timing allows) with me based on your research results (prior to the completion of the thesis document).  This collaborative activity will set the expectations for the thesis document.  (The thesis will be an expanded version of the paper.)

2.       Write your thesis.  We can work on it in bits and pieces throughout the semester.  However, you must give it to me in its entirety 3 weeks before your defense date. That allows us two weeks for finalizing the whole document prior to giving it to your committee.  You committee will take the final week to read it. 

3.       Defend your thesis.

4.       Revise your thesis and obtain approval from the thesis editor.