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Steps Toward Degree Completion

While pursuing a graduate degree at Utah State University, there are five main milestones a student must pass, regardless of plan type or degree type.

Supervisory Committee

All students 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

Your 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. Carlos Licon or Katie Stringham can assist you in identifying suitable faculty to serve on your committee. Once you have a defined Supervisory Committee, talk with Katie about submitting the Supervisory Committee Approval form to the School of Graduate Studies.

Please note, students enrolled in a LAEP graduate program (PhD, MLA, MsEP, B+MLA) will be unable to enroll for LAEP courses following their 2nd semester in their program without a Supervisory Committee Approval completed, submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, and signed by all of the student’s thesis or dissertation committee members.  Appeals for an exemption from this requirement will be made to the Graduate Program Director and will not be granted for failure to identify supervisory committee members.

Program of Study

Your Program of Study acts as a contract between you, the Department and the School of Graduate Studies. Once approved, the courses listed on your Program of Study will be the ones you take to receive your degree. Once a student has an approved Program of Study, they are not bound by curriculum or track changes.

Students need to include either LAEP 6960 Master's Project Credits (Plan B) or LAEP 6970 Thesis Research Credits (Plan A) in their Program of Study. Please discuss with your committee whether your research best fits within a Plan A or Plan B definition.

Degree Works does not influence your Program of Study and vice versa. A student can and will graduate, even if Degree Works shows missing requirements. A student cannot and will not graduate if their approved Program of Study is not alligned with their academic transcripts.

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:

Thesis Project Approval

Once a student has a Supervisory Committee and Program of Study, they must present their thesis plan/outline to their committee.

To verify this has been done, and show that all committee members agree with the direction of the thesis, a Thesis Project Approval form is signed and submitted to the School of Graduate Studies.

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.

Public announcement of your thesis defense is required.

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

Regardless of plan type, your degree will not be awarded before your thesis or creative work is submitted. For a Plan A thesis, students must finish their committee's revisions and then submit their paper to the LAEP Department thesis reviewer.

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 are not reviewed by the School of Graduate Studies. They are professionally editied, and they are submitted to Merrill-Cazier Library through Digital Commons.

Late Fees

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.