Masters Thesis/Project

As you finish you Masters coursework at Saybrook, you will register to complete a Masters Project or Masters Thesis. The primary difference between a project and a thesis is that the Masters Thesis encompasses a research project where you will be gathering and analyzing new data. I have included some information below about the approach I take to working with Masters Projects and Theses. If you are considering asking me to chair or serve on your Masters Thesis/Project committee, I would encourage you to review my vita to become familiar with my areas of experience.


With a Masters Project or Thesis, you will first want to identify a chair. You will also need one additional committee member. It is generally recommended that you first identify your chair and discuss options for your committee member. You will want to make sure that your committee has relevant experience and expertise to cover your topic(s) and, if doing a Masters Thesis, your research methodology.

When chairing Masters Theses or Projects, here is some important information about how I prefer to approach working with these:

* Students have different preferences for frequency and format of communication. I believe it is important for us to be in contact at least every 3 weeks at a minimum. During many portions of the project/thesis we will be in communication much more frequently than this. Many students prefer to have weekly Email, phone, or Skype check ins. My goal is always to find what works best for the student to assure consistent progress toward completion. It is helpful to discuss these preferences upfront. If, after a couple of months, it does not appear that progress is being made, I may strongly encourage us to be in contact once a week or every other week.

* Before beginning to write your thesis or project, please submit an outline with the major headings you plan to use. This helps to identify any potential “holes” before beginning your work. Additionally, if there are organization adjustments necessary, it is much easier to address these at the outset. Of course, as you immerse yourself in the literature will likely be some changes to the outline; however, the initial outline greatly reduces the chance that the changes needed will be major changes.

* With theses/projects, it is always important to be prepared for revisions. Most students need at least 3-5 revisions in my experience. However, with each revision there is generally fewer and smaller changes needed. At a certain point I will suggest that you begin highlighting any changes in yellow so that I can just focus on the changes to the essay.

* I encourage students to be cognizant of time. If you wish to be working on a thesis/project over break (which I encourage), I recommend that we talk before break to discuss the direction of your thesis/project and how to best use the break. Additionally, please keep in mind that I have an ongoing cue with essays, theses/projects, and dissertations, grading them in the order that they are submitted. It is common for students to submit toward the end of the term hoping for a quick turn around and completing before the end of the term. This is often unrealistic, particularly as I am also grading many class papers and have other deadlines that are at the end of the term. You will typically get a quicker turnaround time if submitting before week 12.

* With theses/projects, it is important that your final version is in correct APA style. I do not correct every instance of a repeated style error. Please keep in mind that when a repeated error is corrected on your thesis/project you should review your entire thesis/project to correct all instances of this error.

Thesis/Project Committee Member

If you ask me to serve on a thesis/project committee that I am not chairing, I do expect that much of the work will be done in close connection with your chair. Please do keep me informed regarding your progress. Additionally, I do still like to see an outline of your project in advance. For any areas of your thesis/project where I will be the primary content expert, please discuss this with me so that I can provide input as your develop your project.

Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.

— Franklin D. Roosevelt