Master's Thesis

The Global Studies master’s thesis is an integral requirement for the Global Studies program. Students complete a wide range of thesis topics from across several disciplines. Each student must sign up for the one-semester guided research course and prepare a major research paper on a field and subject of interest. The completed papers will be submitted to the Brandeis Institutional Repository (IR) in mid-April for a May graduation date.

Thesis papers cover a range of past and current global issues through a variety of disciplinary lenses. Methods, literature, paper format, and citation styles vary according to discipline. Research papers range from 60-75 pages in length and must be both comparative and analytical in nature. Policy recommendations are appropriate in some cases, but are not required. Global Studies theses are not formally defended. However, research papers must be approved by the thesis adviser and the Global Studies Director before a final thesis draft is submitted to GSAS in mid-April (for May graduation).

GS 204a Master’s Thesis Course

During the Spring term, students enroll in a one-semester thesis course with a thesis adviser and prepare a major research paper (60-75 pages) on a topic related to global studies. The master’s thesis represents the culmination of a student’s academic work at Brandeis. Since students in the program are working from multiple disciplinary perspectives under the direction of faculty members from across campus, we keep these “guidelines” as flexible as possible:

First, a formal thesis, submitted to fulfill a graduate degree requirement, differs from a course paper or essay in significant ways. Most importantly, a thesis should defend an argument and not just review a range of scholarly or public opinions. This does not mean that a student cannot decide to agree with an established scholarly conclusion; but the strength of a thesis depends on the merits of the arguments presented, not only authorities cited.

Second, a thesis is grounded in data, that is, in evidence that can be collected, tabulated, inspected, viewed, transcribed, etc. In many cases it will not be possible for students to gather their own original data, so most students will need to rely on published, archived, or on-line sources of information. Given the short amount of time available, it is a good idea for students to engage a topic with which they are already generally familiar, either from previous courses or real-world experiences.

Third, given that different disciplines have different formats for presenting scholarly writing, there is no required citation and bibliographic style for your thesis. What is important is that, whether you are following an established format or not, citations and bibliography need to be clear, consistent, and comprehensive. Every Brandeis student’s academic life is governed by the principles of academic integrity outlined in Section 4 of the Rights and Responsibilities document.

Fourth, there is no set length for a master’s thesis in Global Studies. It would be anticipated that thesis might range from 60-75 pages of text, not including any tables, appendices, or bibliography attached. While a thesis is not a course paper, it is entirely proper for a student to integrate material, sources, and knowledge from writing done in connection with courses taken in the program.

And fifth, your research and writing for master’s thesis is under the supervision of a faculty adviser, and our affiliated faculty are well known for having different styles of mentoring and advising, so it is important that you and your advisor agree on clear guidelines for this process, including dates for submitting drafts and expectations for the final product. Students are, of course, responsible for following the official Registrar’s procedures for submitting theses.