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A culmination of one's studies at Utah State University, all masters and PhD students are required to write a thesis containing original work which contributes to their field of study or they must complete a research project, creative work or paper highlighting what they have learned about their field. To learn more about these two options, please see the descriptions and examples below.

Supervisory Committees

All students, regardless of project type, must have a Supervisory Committee consisting of:

  1. A committee chair, from within the LAEP department
  2. At least one committee member from within the LAEP department
  3. At least one committee member from outside the LAEP department

This committee will guide you as you work toward your thesis or creative work.

Once you have narrowed down your research interest, discuss the possibility of mentorship and serving on your Supervisory Committee with faculty members who have expertise and interest within that research area. Once you have a defined Supervisory Committee, talk with your Graduate Program Coordinator and submit the Supervisory Committee Approval Form to the School of Graduate Studies.

Grad student working on creative project

Plan A - Thesis

The Plan A masters thesis must be a contribution to the field of knowledge based on the student's own research or a treatment and presentation of known subject matter from a new point of view. The student and major professor should decide upon a problem or subject for the thesis by the end of the student's second semester of graduate work. Six credits are required to be taken via LAEP 6970, Thesis Research. With the approval of your committee chair, a Plan A thesis can also be fulfilled by the writing of several articles to be submitted for publication.

Please see the sample thesis below to understand how to structure, format and present your research:

Thesis Template


Plan B - Terminal Project/Creative Work/Paper

The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or a planning and design project. Plan B may also be a literature review, involving conceptualizing an area of inquiry, planning and completing a systematic search, analyzing and critiquing the acquired information, and drawing conclusions. The summary and conclusions reached should enhance knowledge in the field. Two credits are required via LAEP 6970, Thesis Research and four credits are required via LAEP 6960, Master's Project.

Please see the sample project reports below for a better understanding of Plan B projects:

Appointment for Examination

Your committee will assist you throughout your time at Utah State. Once you are nearing the completion of your course requirements, talk with your committee about setting up an appointment for exam. This exam is a time for you to demonstrate the knowledge you've obtained while at the university. The School of Graduate Studies must be notified of your examination via the Appointment for Examination form. This form must be completed at least 10 business days before the exam.

Following the exam, your committee will provide feedback on whether or not you have adequately grasped and explained your field of research. If you have adequately presented your studies, you will proceed to finish your thesis or creative work. If you have not adequately presented your studies, more research may be required, and you will have to schedule another exam. 

Your committee's feedback will be documented via the Record of Examination form turned into the School of Graduate Studies.

Submitting Your Work

Once you have finished your thesis, you must submit it via email to the LAEP Department thesis reviewer, Mary Ellen Heiner. Mary Ellen will edit your paper and submit it for you to the School of Graduate Studies. Mary Ellen requires a $25 per hour fee for thesis edits. The majority of students can plan to pay $50 to $100 for her services. Once your thesis is submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, university reviewer, Erika Beckstrand will determine if it meets university standards. If it does, you must then submit your thesis to the USU Library through Digitial Commons

Creative works need only be submitted to your Supervisory Committee. Once the committee approves the work, you must then submit your completed study to the USU Library through Digital Commons.

All students are required to complete their thesis or creative work the semester following a successful examination, also known as the Grace Semester. If students are unable to do so, the School of Graduate Studies will assign a $100 late fee for every semester following, up-to $300.

If there are questions regarding any part of the thesis or creative work process, please contact your Graduate Program Coordinator, Katie Stringham.

Completed Theses 

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Students have access to the previously submitted theses of their peers. To access these books, visit the LAEP main office in FAV 230. To browse the list of current theses housed within the LAEP Office, click the link below.

LAEP Thesis Library