Part 5: Thesis Proposal Defence

Master’s Thesis proposal defence guidelines

Typically, students defend/present their Master’s Thesis proposals after completion of Management 5300 - Major Seminar III, but relatively early in the Master’s Thesis module (Management 6100 - Master’s Thesis). The student’s Master’s Thesis proposal defence must be successful to continue with Management 6100.

The Supervisory Committee determines the success of the Master’s Thesis proposal defence. The Chair of the Supervisory Committee must notify the student, in writing, of the outcome of the Master’s Thesis proposal defence. This should include comments, feedback and required corrections for improvement. If unsuccessful, the letter must state what changes need to be made, and the student will be required to defend his or her Master’s Thesis proposal again before continuing with the Master’s Thesis work. A copy of the letter must be submitted to the Management Graduate Programs Office in order to maintain registration in the Master’s Thesis module.

If the student’s second proposal defence is unsuccessful he or she may be required to withdraw from the Master of Science (Management) program.

Master’s Thesis proposal defence responsibilities

The following steps outline the responsibilities related to the student’s Master’s Thesis proposal presentation and defence:

  1. A suggested format for the Master’s Thesis proposal is outlined below.
  2. The student’s supervisor/co-supervisor is required to contact the Management Graduate Programs Office when the Committee and student feel the Master’s Thesis proposal is ready for presentation and defence. The Management Graduate Programs Office will assist with booking an appropriate time and room for the presentation. All members of the Supervisory Committee must attend the Master’s Thesis proposal presentation and defence. Attendance via video or telephone conference is acceptable.
  3. Students are required to submit the Master’s Thesis proposal document to the Management Graduate Programs Office one (1) week prior to the scheduled presentation. This document will be made available to interested faculty and staff prior to the presentation.
  4. The Director of management graduate programs will chair the Master’s Thesis proposal defence.
  5. The Master’s Thesis proposal defence is open. All graduate students and interested faculty are encouraged to attend.
  6. Students are allowed one hour to present the Master’s Thesis proposal: 30-minute public presentation followed by a 30-minute question-answer period.
  7. Anyone present at the Master’s Thesis proposal defence may ask questions.
  8. The Supervisory Committee determines the success of the Master’s Thesis proposal based on the document itself and the student’s ability to present his or her Master’s Thesis proposal and answer questions from the public. The Supervisory Committee should determine if the student’s proposed research is likely to meet or exceed the academic standards for a Master of Science (Management) Master’s Thesis. This includes ensuring that the proposed research:
    1. Addresses related public literature.
    2. Acknowledges contributing scholars.
    3. Uses methods that ensure the conclusions are valid and supported.
    4. Contributes knowledge to management scholarship.
    5. Has originality and substance.
    6. Is written in a clear and intelligible manner.
    7. Shows significant knowledge and grasp of the field.
    8. Is free from major errors.
  9. Students must be notified in writing by the Supervisory Committee the results of the Master’s Thesis proposal defence, which includes comments, feedback and any corrections for improvement. A copy of this letter must be submitted to the Management Graduate Programs Office in order for the student to maintain registration in Management 6100.
  10. If unsuccessful, the letter must state required changes. The student will be placed on probation, and is be required to present and defend his or her Master’s Thesis proposal again before continuing with the Master’s Thesis work. If the second Master’s Thesis proposal defence is unsuccessful the student maybe required to withdraw from the program.

Suggested Master’s Thesis proposal format

Title:Specific description of Master’s Thesis

Abstract: 100-word summary[1]

Introduction:Brief introduction to topic area

Problem Statement:Goals and objectives of research (what will the study accomplish) and description of the relevance of the research (general introduction and overview)

Literature Review: Describes the major studies as they relate to your research question or problem and, in more detail, show how the study fits in the literature and the gap it fills. In other words, the literature is used to support the Master’s Thesis proposal.

Research Question and/or Hypotheses: Focuses on an issue, a problem, a gap in the knowledge in the field.

Methods:Describes how the question will be investigated including: the methods that will be used and how they will be used, and what the data sources are.

Timeline:Outlines the steps that will be taken and provides a timeline for finishing each step.

Budget: Describes the resources required for the research and how much they will cost. Also indicates where the funds will come from; especially if budget is in excess of the $750 research fund provided by the program.

References:List the sources that were used to develop the Master’s Thesis proposal.


[1] Some Supervisors may want an outline of the expected results of the research or may have other changes that they want made to this format. Students must ensure they fulfill those requirements. This is a suggested format only.