Master of Arts in Social Sciences

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A Thesis in the MASS Program is an extended descriptive or analytical narrative dealing with a particular anthropological, historical, sociological, or other social science topic.  The term "extended" is understood generally to mean at least seventy pages of text for a Thesis based primarily on qualitative resources.  Theses based primarily on quantitative analysis will be a minimum of twenty-five pages.  A Thesis primarily utilizes original sources as the basis for the description or analysis.  While the student is ultimately responsible in every respect for the content and documentation of the thesis, the thesis director (Committee Chair) is the final authority on questions of format and documentation style.  It is the Committee Chairís responsibility to ensure that the document is in an appropriate form before the student submits the Thesis to the whole Committee for final approval.  The student is encouraged to continually consult with his or her Committee Chair and individual committee members throughout the writing process.  With the exception of issues of format and style, which are the purview of the Committee Chair, committee members will judge the final Thesis on its merits as they understand it.

In some cases a studentís academic work may result in a Thesis that does not take the traditional form of a descriptive or analytical narrative.  Examples of this sort of work include, but are not limited to:

  • production of museum or source collection catalogues and definitive finding aids,

  • development of major history or social science K-12 curricula,
  • video, multimedia, or film productions, or,
  • development and execution of a major local or regional history or archaeology event.

In this case the student will present a narrative description of his or her work, to include literature and historiographical background and a detailed explanation of the methodology employed.  This description will meet the same intellectual, literary, and documentation standards expected of a Thesis and will be accompanied by a permanent record of the work described.  Students should consult with the Program Director on the form and media used for this permanent record which is housed in the Baron-Forness Library.     

Thesis Proposal:

The Thesis Proposal is the mechanism by which a student registers for Thesis (SSCI 799, ANTH 799, or HIST 799).  The Proposal should be 5-10 pages of text and attached to the "Graduate Thesis & Committee Application" . The proposal should clearly explain and include the following:

  • Purpose and scope of the project,
  • Preliminary summary of literature on the topic,
  • Major sources to be used and
  • A substantial working bibliography (not simply a works cited page)

The Application Form will serve as the title page.  Do not include a separate title page or abstract.  The first page of the proposal proper should have the following centered heading:

Thesis Proposal

[Student's Name]



                 Text . . . . . .




        *This Thesis conforms to the style requirements of . . .


The above asterisked comment should also appear at the bottom of the first page of the text of the student's Thesis.

Do not use running headers; simply use page numbers.  Page number 1 (as indicated above) is placed at the center bottom of the first page of the proposal proper.  Subsequent page numbers are placed in the upper right hand corner of the page.

Citation Styles:  Unless specifically directed otherwise, students will use the following style guides, based on their concentration.

  • History concentration students will use the current edition of Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations.

  • Anthropology concentration students will use either Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations, the style guide of the American Anthropological Association, or the style guide of the Society for American Archaeology.

Students will use footnotes, not endnotes.  Bibliographic footnotes are expected for all works referenced in the Proposal and the Thesis, whether material is quoted or not.  Thesis Directors may, at their discretion, direct that students use a citation style other than one of those listed above.  In all cases, however, the Proposal and the final Thesis text will indicate the citation style used.

Students whose theses will be based on research for which Institutional Review Board approval is necessary must include the Board's formal approval with their proposals.

Thesis Proposal Approval Process:

Students should discuss their proposal with their Thesis Advisor in detail before submission.  Once the Thesis Advisor is satisfied with the proposal he or she signs the Thesis Application.  The approval sequence is then:

  • Department Chair,
  • MASS Program Director,
  • Dean of Liberal Arts, and
  • Dean of Graduate Studies and Research

The Thesis Proposal is read in detail by all signatories.  The student should not expect to get his or her proposal back immediately and should understand that the Proposal can be returned at any point in the process for correction, revision, or clarification.  The Proposal should be clear, well-written, free of excess jargon, and carefully proofread.  This should be the best writing of a student's academic career to this point.  Proposals are frequently returned for corrections.

Deadlines.  The Proposal must be to Records and Registration one week before the beginning of the semester or session in which the student intends to register for Thesis.  The Proposal, approved by the Thesis Advisor and Department Chair, should be submitted to the MASS Program Director not later than the following dates:

  • 1 November if registration is desired in the Spring semester, 
  • 1 April if registration is desired in any Summer session, or
  • 1 July if registration is desired in the Fall semester.


Thesis Organization and Layout

Students will follow the guidelines for the Thesis organization and layout contained in MASS Thesis Organization and Preparation.

Thesis Defense and Final Oral Examination

After all Committee members have had an opportunity to read and commant on a student's Thesis the Committee will conduct the Thesis Defense and the student's Final Oral Examination.  All MASS students must take a Final Oral Examination.  This exam is a public examination open to all EUP Faculty, graduate students, and upper division undergraduate students.  During this examination the student will:

  • Demonstrate a professional understanding of the place of their major field of study in the broad flow of their area of concentration,
  • Demonstrate a reasonable mastery of the material covered in their MA course work, and
  • Address whatever questions the Committee has about his or her Thesis.

At the end of the Final Oral Examination the student will be informed, in the presence of the Committee, whether he or she has successfully completed the requirements for the Master of Arts in Social Sciences.  A student who fails to successfully complete the Thesis Defense or Final Oral Examination may be given, at the discretion of his or her Committee, a second opportunity to successfully complete the Program.  This may include revising elements of the Thesis.