Guidelines for the M.A. in Latin American Studies - Thesis Option

Students will conclude their program in Latin American Studies with a major capstone project worth a total of six (6) credit hours. Students will normally complete the capstone requirement during their last semester of enrollment. The capstone project should reflect the student's specific area of concentration and the general trajectory of his or her graduate program. The capstone project can take the form either of a traditional scholarly thesis or a creative or applied final project.

Thesis Option:

The thesis option requires the completion of a traditional scholarly thesis. The thesis should incorporate the use of primary sources as well as secondary literature, and an examination of relevant theoretical foundations of a given topic. The thesis option is intended for, but not limited to, students who plan to pursue doctoral studies.

Students who plan to pursue the thesis option should begin developing a topic and research strategy early in their M.A. program.

Thesis Proposal:
The candidate presents a five- to ten-page proposal plus bibliography, first to a three-member thesis committee and, with its approval, to the Graduate Studies Committee for its approval. The proposal indicates the topic and its significance as an example of original research that contributes to the field of Latin American Studies.

In addition to describing the primary sources to be used, the proposal presents a hypothesis and research strategy (methodology).

The proposal is accompanied by a bibliography of the relevant secondary literature. The bibliography is not part of the proposal proper, but is appended to it (i.e., not counted as part of the 5- to 10-page length).

The thesis supervisory committee will consist of three faculty members with a specialty in Latin American Studies and/or other fields of relevance to the student's project. The supervisory committee chair must be qualified to supervise the research required for the thesis.

Students must also include a signature page providing the title of the proposed thesis and the members of the proposed supervisory committee. Each member of the proposed committee must sign this page to indicate a willingness to serve on the committee. The student's name should appear only on the title or signature page.

The Graduate Studies Committee will assess the proposal based on an established set of criteria.

Thesis Format:
The thesis will normally be between fifty and one-hundred pages in length, although the specific length of each project will be determined in accordance with the expectations of the thesis committee and should be suitable to adequately address the chosen topic.

Each thesis will include an introduction, one or more substantive chapters, and a full bibliography of all primary and secondary sources used. Other sections (such as preface, acknowledgements, epilogue, appendices) may be used, but are not required.

The format for references and citations should conform to the standards of the individual discipline in which the student is writing and/or concentrating. Citation format should be determined in accordance with the expectations of the thesis committee.

Thesis Defense:
When all three members of the supervisory committee agree that the thesis is substantively ready for defense, the student supplies each professor with a clean copy of the complete thesis in proper format. Another copy of this penultimate draft should be delivered to the Arts and Humanities Graduate Coordinator (JO 4.510), where it is open for faculty inspection at least three working days before its defense.

The chair of the thesis committee authorizes the Graduate Coordinator to arrange for a public defense, the date and location of which is then announced to all Arts and Humanities faculty and graduate students by e-mail.

The committee chair presides over the defense, a one hour session that begins with a 10- minute student presentation on the general goals and themes of the thesis. Unless the supervisory committee decides otherwise, public participation in the questioning is limited to Arts and Humanities faculty members.

After the formal defense, the supervisory committee will meet in camera to vote on granting the master's degree. All three members of the committee must approve the final thesis. The results of its vote are reported to the University's Dean of Graduate Studies through the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies.

Students submitting a thesis must follow all guidelines and dates for submission established by the Dean of Graduate Studies and the School of Arts and Humanities.