Those students wishing to complete an M.A. Thesis must have a 3.5 GPA or higher. Applicants for Plan I, the Thesis Option, are first required to prepare, present, and defend a proposal for the thesis study before a full committee of Communication graduate faculty. The full committee of Communication graduate faculty will approve or disapprove the Thesis Proposal. Students applying for the thesis option may have a thesis advisor for the thesis proposal, who would recuse from the full faculty committee vote. If the Proposal is approved, the Committee will recommend three members for the Thesis Committee.  One of the three committee members will be designated Chair of the Thesis Committee.  The other two committee members may be from the Communication Department or one may be from outside the Communication Department, if the applicant so prefers.  The thesis advisor would serve on the thesis committee but not necessarily as chair of the committee, unless deemed appropriate by the committee.  The Thesis Proposal must be accepted prior to registering for thesis credit (COMM 7000 – Masters Thesis).

Plan I Thesis Option students are not required to take the comprehensive exam  nor are they required to take COMM 6050 - Communication Graduate Capstone Experience.  Information about the thesis process also is available on the Graduate School website at 

Suggested Guidelines for a Thesis Proposal in the Department of Communication are as follows:



The introduction to the proposal should have a scope of sufficient detail to provide adequate discussion of the following: 


A.    STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM: What problem area does the proposal focus on? Briefly, how is the problem typically viewed by communication scholars?  What are the specific aims of the study?

B.    SPECIFIC PURPOSE: What facet of the problem area are you going to confront and what portion of the problem area do you not intend to confront?  What is the main focus of your study? 

C.    SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY: What will your study accomplish?  In what way will your study clarify or test specific theoretical formulation? How will your study add to the existing body of knowledge in the communication discipline?  Why is this study important? 




The review of the literature should cover the relevant bodies of theory and/or research that provide information about the problem area. It should include conceptual definitions of all key concepts and address the specific approaches that are likely to provide the most beneficial means for understanding the problem area. It should demonstrate how your study represents the appropriate "next step" toward understanding the problem area. The literature review should be appropriately narrowed and related directly to the research question(s). 


At the conclusion of the literature review, you need to integrate your rationale for your hypotheses or research questions into the text. In this section, you need to use the existing literature to set up a rationale for your study. You should also formally state your hypotheses or research questions.




This section pertains to the execution of your study.  You should provide a sufficiently detailed description of your procedures so that, by following your description, any other person could conduct your study exactly as you intend to do so yourself.  The minimum components for this section should include: 


A.    SAMPLE:  To what population of people, events, cases, etc., do you intend to generalize?  What sample of people, events, or phenomena do you intend to observe? Through what specific procedures will you decide which population elements will be included in your sample?  How do you plan to recruit study participants? What steps will you take to secure approval from the campus institutional review board for Human Subjects (IRB)?


B.    DESIGN (PROCEDURES): If the study is experimental, give a detailed outline of the design.  Additionally, give a detailed description of all treatments or conditions employed in the design.  If the study is descriptive, formulative, or critical-analytic, provide a detailed explanation of the data gathering procedures.


C.    MEASUREMENT: In this section you will operationalize the concepts employed in your statement of the hypotheses or your description of the research objectives, i.e., how will the concepts be measured?  What kind of observations will be made?  How will the observations be classified?  If the observations produce scores, how will the scores be computed?  What information do you have, or what information do you plan to gather bearing on the reliability and validity of your observations?   What were previous reliability and validity estimates of the operationalizations of your variables? If you are designing your own instruments, explain the procedures used with appropriate statistical information on the new instrument(s).  Finally, what are the major alternative assessments for getting at the concepts or variables you want to observe or measure in your study?  Why are your assessment procedures "better" than the alternatives?


D.    DATA ANALYSIS:  Using the procedure outlined above to generate the data, how will the data be analyzed or evaluated?  Specifically, how will you test your hypotheses or answer research question(s) related to the specific research objective?  At this point, you may state the hypotheses or objectives identified in the final section of the literature review and indicate how you will make decisions concerning those hypotheses or objectives.




In this section, you should identify, within reasonable limits, problems you might encounter during execution of the study and any decisions you may have made concerning the resolution of these problems if they arise.  What are some of the threats to reliability and validity of the constructs and the research design?  Additionally, you should identify the limitations or restrictions you plan to make on the inferences you draw from the study and the generalizations you make to other conditions or populations.