Thesis Guidelines

Students must receive a grade of B- or higher on theses to qualify for graduation.

Thesis Advisers

Thesis advisers work closely with graduate students to develop research topics, choose literature, determine methodologies, review thesis chapters, and set reasonable short- and long-term deadlines for completion of the project. In the spring, students enroll in GS 204a – Master’s Thesis course under the direction of the adviser, meeting regularly throughout the term to review progress, discuss chapters, and support. Advisers may recommend other faculty with relevant expertise to serve as consultants on the project.

Global Studies theses are not formally defended, but they must be graded and approved by the adviser (in consultation with the GS Director) before theses are submitted to the IR. Primary thesis advisers receive a $500 stipend after their advisee’s thesis has been approved and submitted.

Thesis Workshops

Global Studies offers thesis workshops throughout the fall to guide students as they begin their thesis projects.

Additionally, GSAS offers two workshops each semester: one for expected master’s degree recipients and one for expected PhD degree recipients. These sessions offer an overview of the procedures and guidelines for dissertation and thesis submission. Workshop dates will be announced in the GSAS e-newsletter Highlights or by email, and registration is required. Contact Emily Goldberg in GSAS with questions.

Thesis Formatting

Global Studies theses fall within a variety of disciplines, so a degree of flexibility is accepted with regard to thesis structure, research methods, and citation style (APA, MLA and Chicago). Theses will follow standard disciplinary guidelines as approved by individual thesis advisers and the Global Studies Director. Global Studies theses generally fall between 60-75 pages in length and must follow formatting specifications outlined by GSAS.

Detailed instructions on layout, formatting, and submission of your master's thesis are available in the GSAS Quick Guide for Master's Thesis Submission.

Thesis Outline

Below is one example of a Global Studies thesis outline:

  1. Title Page, Abstract, and Copyright Page
  2. Introduction: What is your research problem? Why is important? What have others said about the topic? What will you compare? What are the parameters of the study? Revise this section once your concluding remarks are completed. Make sure Introduction and Conclusions are parallel.
    • Rationale for study (gap in literature, solving a specific problem, professional development of researcher)
    • Literature review or theoretical framework with definition of terms and concepts. Outline the research problem and define main concepts addressed. Choose literature that helps to critique, identify new ideas, provide historical context, and offer interdisciplinary insights into your research question. Where is the literature helpful and where is it lacking?
    • Methods (varies according to discipline)
    • Parameters of study (timeframe, populations, geographies)
    • Brief chapter overview (1-2 paragraphs)
  3. Historical Overview: Explain the context of your research problem within the parameters defined.
  4. Findings: Create a framework for understanding the data you uncovered. What analytical categories are helpful in organizing complex data across comparison cases?
  5. Analysis: Here, you move from component parts to a holistic view of the data. Search for patterns and themes that illuminate the deeper meaning of your findings. What similarities and differences exist among comparative cases, and how do you explain these trends? What is surprising and what is predictable? Are your findings consistent with the body of literature on the 4 topic? If not, how do YOU explain outcomes observed?
  6. Conclusions: What is the broader significance of your study, and can lessons learned be applied across time or space? How does your study further our understanding of the topic? What questions require further investigation? Do your findings offer any predictive potential? Policy Implications: Students may conclude with policy implications, but this is not required.
  7. Bibliography and Addendums: List all references. Additional tables, graphs, and other information may be listed at the back of the paper.