Graduate Student Resources

Master's Thesis/Project

Some master’s programs within the College require the completion of a thesis or project in order for students to graduate. Please check with your program advisors to see if a thesis or project is required in your chosen program.

The number of credit hours of thesis or project enrollment required for master's students will be determined by their program, if their chosen program includes a thesis/project option. Discussion with the Major Professor and/or advisors will help the student determine whether the thesis or project option is most appropriate. Students are required to enroll for a minimum of two (2) semester hours in the xxx-6971 thesis course or EDG 6975 project course each semester while working on the master's thesis/project, and for 2 semester hours in the thesis or project course during the semester of graduation.

Master's students who plan to complete a thesis or project will need to complete and submit an Advanced Graduate Student Supervisory Committee Appointment form. Master's students must have a minimum of three (3) credentialed faculty members on their committee. Please see below for the list of current credentialed faculty and the Committee Appointment Form.

USF Credentialed Faculty List (Credentialed faculty across all colleges at USF. Check with your program and/or department for updates on new faculty receiving credentials.)

Advanced Graduate Student Supervisory Committee Form

Important Note: Once you have decided to complete either a thesis or project, you must continue to register for only the thesis or project until your work is complete! Students cannot flip between thesis and project hours, as each course follows a different process and set of deadlines. 

Master's Thesis Requirements

Major Professor

The Major Professor serves as the student’s advisor and mentor throughout the thesis process. Master’s students completing a thesis must identify a Major Professor from their academic area, approved by the student’s Department and College, and receive that person’s agreement to serve as Major Professor. Students should select a Major Professor as soon as possible before starting their thesis research, and they must have a Major Professor in order to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.

If a Major Professor cannot be identified or in the event a Major Professor is unable or unwilling to continue serving on the student’s committee, the student is responsible for finding another professor from their program or department. Students who are unable to find a replacement should contact their program advisors for other available options, including converting to a non-thesis/project track if available.

Major Professors must meet the following requirements:

  • Be graduate faculty*, as defined by the University, from the student’s academic area.
  • Be engaged in current and sustained scholarly, creative, or research activities and have met departmental (or equivalent) requirements.
  • Have been approved by the student’s Department Chair (or equivalent) to serve as a Major Professor or Co-Major Professor.

*Affiliate Members of Graduate Faculty may serve as a Co-Major Professor with a fully credentialed Graduate Faculty member from the student’s department. Co-Major Professors may be two graduate faculty or one graduate faculty and one approved Affiliate Member of Graduate Faculty. 

Thesis Committee

Master's students completing a thesis are required to form a supervisory committee. The thesis committee will help students generate initial ideas for their research, plan and supervise the thesis research, and read and approve the thesis for content and format.

The master’s thesis committee is comprised of a minimum of three (3) members: the Major Professor and two other committee members, or two Co-Major Professors and one other member. The members must be credentialed as Associate or Full Members of the College of Education's Graduate Faculty. Committee members should be from the general research area in which the degree is sought. One member must be from outside the student's discipline; the one outside member may be chosen, if appropriate, from faculty of other USF Colleges. Instructors desiring to serve on a Graduate Committee who are not defined as Graduate Faculty (i.e., visiting faculty, professionals, etc.) must submit a curriculum vitae (CV) and be approved by the Department, College, and, as needed, the Office of Graduate Studies.

Once the committee has been determined, an Advanced Graduate Student Supervisory Committee Appointment form (see above) should be completed by the student and submitted to the Committee Members for original signatures. The original appointment form must be submitted to the Graduate Support Office for approval. An approved and current committee appointment form must be on file in the college before graduation may be certified. Committee forms need to be processed as early in the major as possible, but no later than the semester prior to graduation.

Changes to a Supervisory Committee must be recorded on a Change of Committee Form and submitted to the Graduate Support Office. Original signatures of faculty being added to the Committee, along with the approval signature of the (Co-) Major Professor(s), must be on the form. The form must also be signed by the Department Chair. Faculty who are removed from the Committee are not required to sign the form, provided that the (Co-) Major Professor(s) has signed. Change of Committee Forms should be submitted for approval as soon as the change takes place and are official only once approved and filed by the major and college.

Permission to Conduct Research Involving Human Beings

For both ethical and legal reasons, the USF Human Research Protection Program requires all researchers (including students) who conduct studies involving participation of human beings to have their projects reviewed and approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the Protection of Human Subjects prior to the start of their studies. Virtually all research studies in the College of Education will require approval by the IRB as these studies involve the use of human subjects. Master's students who have chosen to complete a thesis must complete the required IRB training and submit an application for approval of their study by the IRB.

Certification to conduct human subjects research must take place every three years from the date of initial certification through the CITI Refresher Course, or another USF IRB-approved program listed on the IRB website. Please visit the USF Research Integrity & Compliance website to access IRB training and for more information about conducting research.

Electronic Thesis & Dissertation Information

Master’s students do not have a formalized thesis defense session like the doctoral dissertation defense; rather, students will conduct an informal defense within their individual program or department. Please contact your program advisor or department to learn more about master’s thesis defense procedures.

Once the thesis is successfully defended and approved by the committee, students will need to submit their completed thesis to the Electronic Thesis & Dissertation (ETD) office. The ETD Resource Center website is designed to help students through each step of the thesis submission process: how students should submit their manuscript, what additional documents they should upload, and general thesis formatting requirements. Students will need to formally register for ETD through the website; registration opens on the first day of each semester. Students should complete ETD registration as soon as possible to avoid delays when submitting their thesis and Certificate of Approval (COA) packet. Additionally, students should ensure that they are registered for at least 2 hours of thesis credit (xxx 6971) in the semester they submit the thesis to ETD.

After completing their thesis defense, students will need to submit a Certificate of Approval packet to the ETD office. The Certificate of Approval (COA) packet contains multiple documents, including a fully signed Certificate of Approval Form and a plagiarism review, which confirm that your committee approves the thesis for publication. This packet should be reviewed and signed by all committee members, then sent to both the ETD office and the Graduate Support Office to certify students for graduation. The Certificate of Approval packet should include:

  • Certificate of Approval Form, with all appropriate signatures (Major Professor, Committee members, and the Academic Program Specialist. The Graduate Support Office will obtain the COEDU Associate Dean’s signature.) Note that all information should be typed.
  • Page 1 of the Plagiarism Check (conducted through Turn-it-in or similar software)

The complete COA packet should be submitted to the Microsoft Form link found on the ETD website (see the Certificate of Approval "Packet Overview" page). The Office of Graduate Studies will review the thesis submission and notify students of any necessary revisions needed before publication.

Master's Project Information

Students who are required to submit a non-thesis project must meet all of the requirements as specified by the College of Education and their chosen graduate program. A project does not need to meet the formatting requirements of a thesis and is not submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval and archiving. If you wish to complete a master's project, please contact your program for information about specific project requirements and deadlines.

Students completing a project will register for a minimum of two (2) credit hours in EDG 6975 with their chosen Major Professor during each semester of project work. Once the project requirements are completed, the student's Major Professor will submit one hard copy of the student's project and the signed Record of Ed.S. or Master's Project Completion Form to the Graduate Support Office three weeks before the end of the semester in which the student is graduating. 

Record of Ed.S. or Master's Project Completion Form