Skip to Main Content
Idaho State University home

Master Thesis Guidelines

Pursuing the thesis option will require you to perform research and make a novel contribution to the field of interest. Although there are only 6 credits associated with this, it requires a substantial amount of work and dedication to complete a MS thesis. Hence it is of rather important that you select a topic that is of great interest to you. Your interest could be based on your future career goals, long work history in a particular field, or interest to learn something new. There are a lot of different research project ongoing within MCE, and we encourage each student to visit with various professors to gauge and learn about these project for possible fit for a MS thesis.

Any master thesis should represent a noticeable contribution to the applicable field. This implies that the student must conduct an in-depth literature survey to probe where the current state of know-how is in the selected field. Only after such a review it is then appropriate to define and propose a topic and a set of clear stated objectives. Such a proposal is treated formally by a short report to the committee members. The proposal is preferably constructed by closely consulting with your major advisor. The proposal should clearly state the problem, detailed objectives, an in-depth literature survey, an anticipated time line, methods to be used, theories to be developed, and equipment needed. It is expected that such a document is drafted during the first semester of being enrolled for master thesis research. This document serves as the guide in defining your efforts toward your thesis.

General Expectations

For a potential employer or future graduate school, a master thesis does not say much about the quality and rigor of the work included. One method of showing the quality and the level of contribution is to have publications. Therefore, we usually expect that a master thesis results in at least one publication in a respected, peer reviewed conference proceeding and/or in a peer reviewed journal.

It might be advisable to arrange a weekly meeting with your major advisor at the beginning of the semester. This is at minimum a weekly, one-hour meeting to discuss the progress of your research. Also, the meeting length may well be increased as you near the end of your master thesis. You are expected to show up in your advisor's office at those times reserved. Note that repeatedly unexcused missed meetings will result in your removal from the project. It is expected that continuous progress in the form of reports is made while enrolled in thesis research. If such is not achieved for any reasonable time period, it may happen that you will be removed from the project and a new student is assign to this task.

At the end of each semester, it is customary to turn in a progress report from each master student. This can be drafted with the help of your major advisor.


Currently, it is extremely difficult to obtain research funding for any type of project. Your project may or may not be funded. Your advisor will always try to find support for that project and student, but no guarantee can be given that support is available.

MS Program of Study and Thesis Special Project Plan