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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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A thesis or dissertation is an extensive original research paper that should result in a significant contribution to new knowledge. It demonstrates the ability to conceive and develop a research problem; to express it theoretically; to develop alternative methods for testing logically generated hypotheses; to gather, compile and statistically analyze data; to make rational decisions regarding the resolution of the research problem; and to make recommendations for future research.

Ordinarily, the thesis is oriented toward original research, data gathering with statistical analysis, theory testing, and theory building. A thesis or dissertation proposal may be required by the particular department. If the research involves human subjects, the student must obtain approval from the Institutional Review Board. See Research Involving Participants or Animals. Students preparing a thesis or dissertation must work closely with their advisor and other examining committee members at all stages of development.

Another type of thesis may involve original critical work on a particular topic: historical period, literary work, etc. Under certain circumstances, extensive use of library materials or secondary research sources may meet the research requirement for the thesis. In certain academic areas, creative projects may also be acceptable as long as they meet program requirements and are approved by the student's examining committee and the Graduate Dean.

Any thesis that is not text-based (for example, an art portfolio or a computer software project) should be accompanied by documents that evaluate the process and outcome of the project (influences, methodology, program notes etc.), using whatever information is appropriate to the discipline.


 All work must meet acceptable standards of quality in both content and form before being approved by the student's examining committee and the Graduate Dean.  See Format and Style Guidelines for additional information concerning the dissertation or master's thesis.

A final oral comprehensive examination, often referred to as a defense, must be successfully completed. The student's examining committee sets the date, time and place for this examination. All members of the examining committee should be given copies of the thesis/dissertation with sufficient time prior to the oral examination to review the paper. Only after the candidate passes the oral examination and if the paper meets acceptable standards of quality should the committee sign the endorsement/acceptance page of the thesis/dissertation. After the candidate has met all degree requirements to the satisfaction of the committee,  the Recommendation for Awarding the Degree Form will be signed.