The thesis or dissertation is typically the most significant part of a graduate student's program - both in time and intellectual investment. Graduate students need to make substantial progress planning their thesis during the first year of their program. A thesis proposal combined with a draft coursework program is often reviewed by the SAC in a student's second semester - and always before data collection begins. When embarking on developing a thesis proposal, be sure to meet periodically with your advisor to consider your ideas. Be sure to set realistic goals, develop an appropriate time line or schedule, and read other examples of completed theses (especially those that were published in academic or professional journals). The University of Minnesota library owns a copy of every thesis and dissertation completed here- so there is no shortage of available examples! Be sure your thesis research is focused, is organized around a set of questions, and uses appropriate methods. Rely on your committee to give you advice on research approaches; but remember it is your project and you will need to generate ideas and proposals for them to react to. Be sure to select committee members whose expertise will be relevant to your thesis research and who will give you valuable critique. As you develop your thesis proposal, think about how your work fits into the rest of what is going on in conservation biology worldwide and how your proposed research fits in and contributes to advancing the field.
All members of the final oral examining committee read the thesis. For Master's theses, the entire committee must be unanimous in certifying that the thesis is ready for defense, as indicated by their signatures on the thesis reviewers report form. For PhD dissertations, only those designated as thesis reviewers sign the report form certifying that the thesis is ready for defense. The designated reviewers for PhD dissertations consist of the adviser and at least two other members of the final oral examining committee. Part of this group of reviewers should come from outside of the graduate program's thesis advisory committee. To permit faculty sufficient time to read the thesis and decide whether it is ready for defense, all members of the examining committee must have at least two weeks to read the thesis.
Use of Published Work
The thesis or dissertation may include materials that students have published while a graduate student at University of Minnesota provided the research, was carried out under the direction of the graduate faculty and approved by the advisor for incorporation into the thesis. Such publication is welcomed as the best demonstration of quality in a student's research.
The grad school's website has instructions for the preparation and submission of the thesis (.pdf).