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Master Thesis/Project Report Format

Guidelines for Preparation of Master Thesis/Project Report

Overview of the steps

  1. Select master project/thesis advisor.
  2. Select a project topic.
  3. Select a committee.
  4. Obtain approvals for committee, advisor.
  5. Register for the master project/thesis course with thesis advisor. (A section number will be provided to you by your project/thesis advisor.)
  6. Start Research on your master project.
  7. (Optional) Present a thesis proposal to the committee during mid-way of the thesis.
  8. Write project report/thesis.
  9. Present your master project and/or defend thesis.
  10. Submit your master project report, or publish thesis.

Project/Thesis Option

Discuss with your master project advisor at the beginning to decide whether your master project will be more suited for the project or thesis option.

Questions to ask when evaluating your master project topic:

  1. Is there current interest in this topic in the field?
  2. Is there is a gap in knowledge that work on this topic could help to fill?
  3. Is it possible to focus on a manageable segment of this topic?
  4. Identify a preliminary method of data collection that is acceptable to your advisor.
  5. Is there a body of literature is available that is relevant to your topic?
  6. Do you need financial assistance to carry out your research?
  7. Is the data necessary to complete your work is easily accessible?
  8. Define the project purpose, scope, objectives, and procedures.
  9. What are the potential limitations of the study?
  10. Are there any skills called on by the study that you have yet to acquire?

Master level project involves:

  1. Analyzing the problem or topic.
  2. Conducting extensive research.
  3. Summarizing findings from the research investigation.
  4. Recommending additional research on the topic.
  5. Drawing conclusions and making recommendations.
  6. Documenting the results of the research.
  7. Defending conclusions and recommendations.

Pre-Thesis Planning

When you’re contemplating a thesis topic, you should discuss your interests with as many people as possible to gain a broad perspective. You will find your faculty advisor knowledgeable and willing to offer excellent suggestions and advice regarding an appropriate thesis topic.

Give considerable thought to the identification and planning of a thesis topic. Review literature related to your interests; read a variety of research papers, abstracts, and proposals for content, methods and structure. Looking at completed master’s theses will be a useful activity toward expanding inquiry skills and thought processes.

After the thesis advisor is selected, you may register on-line for a thesis section. You will need to see your thesis instructor to obtain the thesis section number.

Suggested Master Project/Thesis Completion Timeline

Below please find a suggested timeline. Individual timelines may vary from one student to another.

Fall Start (Graduate in May) Spring Start (Graduate in December) Recommended Task Completion Overview
Prior to the start of the term Prior to the start of the term
  1. Select a master project advisor.
  2. Select a project topic.
  3. Register for a master project/thesis section.
August January
  1. Select a committee
September February
  1. Finish the literature review and finalize the project topic. Schedule and complete the thesis proposal defense if needed: Submit a one page proposal to the thesis committee at least two week prior to the scheduled proposal defense meeting.
October March
  1. Working on the research project and submit introduction to the thesis advisor
Research & Writing
November April
  1. Working on research project and submit chapters to the project advisor as agreed. Student should be making significant progress toward finishing his/her project and writing his/her project report/thesis.
December - January May - August
  1. Register for a master project/thesis section.
  2. Continue working on and finishing the project and report/thesis.
February September
  1. Continue working on and finishing the project and report/thesis. Submit conclusion and discussion to the project advisor; student should complete his/her project and finish his/her project report/thesis draft.
March October
  1. Schedule project presentation and/or thesis defense meeting. Submit the draft project report/thesis to the committee at least two/three weeks prior to the scheduled presentation/defense meeting.
Submission & Examination
April November

The thesis defense will consist of a 20-30 min. presentation where the students includes:

  1. Literature review
  2. Introduction and objectives
  3. Proposed research
  4. Results
  5. Conclusions
  6. Future work

After defense, but no less than four weeks prior to the end of the term submit an unbound copy of the thesis to the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies for pre-printing review.

Prior to the end of term Prior to the end of term
  1. Submit your final project report, and/or upload your thesis electronically. Submit your signed approval page.

Required Deadlines

  1. The approval page with all signatures must be submitted to the graduate advisor prior to the last day of the semester.
  2. The thesis must be submitted electronically prior to the last day of classes. The last day of class can be identified in the on-line Academic calendar.

Scholarship Possibilities

Funding is usually available to students with expertise to the specific area. You will want to research scholarship options during the pre-project planning as many scholarship applications are due months before the award is granted.

More opportunities exist; you will need to search for scholarships based on your topic of research.

Citing Sources

The Technology Division at the Cullen College of Engineering* does not mandate citation styles, but you must cite your sources and cite them consistently. Here are some helpful links to assist you with citation:

*The Human Development Consumer Science department prefers you to use the APA style. Please consult with your thesis advisor when choosing a citation style.

Thesis Quality

The Technology Division at the Cullen College of Engineering has significant expectations with regard to thesis quality. Poor or average level theses will not receive college approvals. It is the joint responsibility of the student and the committee to ensure that the thesis is of acceptable quality. Ultimately, the task is one borne by the student as the thesis is a reflection of the quality of their work. The thesis committee can direct the student to seek assistance if quality issues are noticed as the chapters are developed. The student should take quality feedback seriously and not wait until the end to attempt to fix this type of problem as it can result in significant delays and postponement of graduation. When you write and defend your thesis, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • A poor quality thesis:
    • Shows a cursory examination of the topic.
    • Makes little use of existing data sources.
    • Fails to examine primary sources.
    • Shows little comprehension of crucial texts or research in the subject matter.
    • Lacks adequate organization.
  • A quality thesis:
    • Treats the topic in a competent, straightforward way.
    • Shows a good grasp of the material.
    • Makes use of existing data sources in a competent fashion or shows a good acquaintance with primary sources and current research.
    • Shows a solid comprehension of research in the subject matter
    • Sustains a line of argumentation throughout the thesis
  • A high quality thesis
    • Shows all of the above qualities of a quality thesis as well as some measure of originality in research. Originality is defined as developing new data; treating existing data in an original or particularly compelling way; developing new or particularly compelling theoretical arguments; interpreting existing research in an original or particularly compelling way; or bringing primary or secondary materials and research together to sustain a new, comprehensive or compelling interpretation. In general, a thigh quality thesis either shows some measure of originality in its argument or empirical base; or is in some other way striking or new.

Organization of Thesis

The original and copies of the thesis MUST include the following items IN THE ORDER LISTED:

  1. Blank sheet of bond paper at the beginning of each copy submitted.
  2. Copyright page (optional).
  3. Title Page (must show month and year of graduation - see example).
  4. Signature page (see example). All three required copies must have ORIGINAL SIGNATURES of the committee and the student. Signatures must be in black ink. This page should be omitted from the electronic thesis.
  5. Acknowledgment (optional).
  6. Abstract Title Page (optional - must show month and year of graduation - see example).
  7. Abstract (optional - University Microfilms, Inc. requires abstracts be no longer than 150 words.).
  8. Table of Contents.
  9. Text.
  10. References.

Style Requirements

Although there is no prescribed style for the completed thesis, there are several style manuals available which may prove helpful. The student should contact the thesis advisor to discuss the style manual to be used. Above all, it is important to be consistent throughout the entire thesis. Decide how you wish to structure your manuscript and be consistent throughout it.

Steps in the Submission of Electronic Dissertation/Thesis


  1. Write your thesis per Technology Division at the Cullen College of Engineering thesis guidelines.
  2. Successfully defend your thesis. Make corrections per the thesis committee.
  3. Committee signs the approval page.
  4. Submit a copy of the final thesis version to the Associate Dean for Research for Graduate Studies or your graduate advisor for formatting review a minimum of two weeks prior to the end of the semester.
  5. Wait for formatting approval before beginning electronic submission process.

Electronic Submission

  1. Create a single pdf file of the thesis. The signature page is NOT included in the online submission.
  2. Submit the signed approval page to your graduate advisor. Approval page is stored in the student’s file. ET students must also submit rubric sheets, one for each committee member.
  3. Upload your thesis to the Texas Digital Library (TDL).
    1. Please note you will be asked if you would like to embargo your work, request a journal hold or a patent hold. Be sure to check with your committee chair about these features and whether your committee chair will approve them.
    2. Uploading the thesis requires an active Cougarnet account and log in. If you have not used your Cougarnet account in more than 90 days, please contact the ETD administrator for assistance.
  4. You will receive an e-mail confirming your upload to TDL. Please forward this email to your graduate advisor.
  5. Wait for confirmation from your faculty chair and graduate advisor that your document has been accepted.
  6. Email your committee chair requesting approval of your submission. Also request approval of the embargo, if applicable.



The font should be Times New Roman, 12 pt. font


The margins should be one inch (1") each

Electronic Copy Submission

All CCE Technology Division theses submitted in an electronic format may be hosted on the College webpage. You must submit an electronic copy of the thesis in pdf format that accurately represents the printed version of the final document.