Research and Thesis

M.S. TC and M.S. TE both have a thesis and non-thesis option. When interested in a career in research and/or a Ph.D. it may be advisable to plan on doing a thesis. Some larger companies may also prefer students with a thesis. Everyone’s path is different though and there are some exceptions to these broad rules. Your advisor will work with you to determine what the best choice will be for you. 

All students are expected to start in the “non-thesis” program. The reason for this is mostly administrative; to avoid some potentially significant problems for students when unforeseen circumstances arrive, such as we have seen with COVID. When you have started in our program, found a research topic with an advisor and you are ready to work on your thesis you can then very easily switch to the Thesis M.S. TC or TE degree and it will not cost you anything. The first one or two semesters are almost always the same anyway and usually students decide on doing a thesis late 2nd or early 3rd semester. Many students express an interest in the Thesis MS TE degree and if that is your wish we will certainly make sure that happens. We are always committed to supporting our students in their ambitions, and promise you we’ll support you towards that goal as well as we can.

Research Thesis Requirements 

Master’s Thesis In order to complete the degree in a reasonable time, students should identify a topic and start work on a thesis early. Identification of a thesis topic should be done during or before the second semester in residence. It is the student’s responsibility to take the initiative to engage in activities that will lead to the identification of a thesis topic. While there is no unique sequence of steps that should be taken in order to arrive at the definition of an appropriate problem, a few suggestions may be helpful. A student may enter the graduate program with a definite interest. A student may be able to identify a thesis topic from course work or readings. Some portion of the research in which a faculty member is engaged may be developed as a thesis. Each professor has interests and ideas that may provide stimulating suggestions. Graduate students should contact faculty members; they welcome the opportunity to get acquainted with students. Other sources of stimulation and advice are discussions with other students, attendance at professional meetings, and familiarity with the relevant literature. Finally, in carrying out term paper requirements for courses, students have an opportunity to get the background understanding and information which will enable them to sense a problem that is both interesting and of reasonable scope. The master’s thesis is intended to be a focused research exercise on a manageable topic. It should be focused on a well-defined topic with restricted scope. At the same time, it must be carried out with care and rigor. Peer-reviewed publications and at least one conference paper is expected. The committee will supervise the work throughout the preparation of the thesis with the chair or co-chairs taking major responsibility. The student should consult with the chair and the committee in connection with any major problems, and keep them informed of progress. It is beneficial for all concerned that concise (monthly) reports are provided to the committee to keep them abreast of progress and any problems that need to be addressed. Regular meetings with the chair or committee are also usually very helpful. Be sure to take full advantage of workshops that are made available by The Graduate School. For instance, M.S. students should take this Electronic Theses and Dissertations workshop at the end of their first year. Once the thesis has been completed, it should be carefully edited and tentatively approved by the committee. The student may then proceed to arrange a suitable time and place for the oral examination according to the rules of the Graduate School, using MyPackPortal. All theses are submitted electronically to the Graduate School. Once the thesis is defended, it must be approved by the Advisory Committee with original signatures of the members of the Advisory Committee on the title page. Once the student has the signed title page, she/he can meet with the Graduate Thesis/Dissertation editor. Before final approval, the thesis will be reviewed by the Graduate School to insure that it conforms to the specifications prescribed in the “Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Guide.” The editor will give the student a date by which the thesis must be submitted electronically in order for the student to graduate in a given semester. Students should plan to provide a final copy of the thesis to each committee member, if they request it.

Master’s Thesis Defense and Oral Examination Candidates for the master’s degree must pass a comprehensive oral examination to demonstrate to the Advisory Committee that they possess a reasonable mastery of the subject matter of the major and supporting fields and that this knowledge can be used with promptness and accuracy. The oral examination includes an oral presentation about the thesis and questions focused on the project. Authorization to hold the examination is requested through The Graduate School. The examination may not be held until all other requirements, except completion of the course work for the final semester, are satisfied. A mutually agreeable time of no less than two hours must be scheduled for the examination. A unanimous vote of approval by the Advisory Committee is required for passing the oral examination. However, approval of the examination may be conditioned upon the completion of additional work to the satisfaction of the Advisory Committee. Failure of a student to pass the examination terminates the student’s graduate program unless otherwise unanimously recommended by the Advisory Committee. Oral examinations for master’s degree candidates are open to all faculty, students and staff. Discussion and decisions regarding the student’s performance are confidential to the Advisory Committee. Graduate School requirements for the Master’s degree are outlined in the North Carolina State University Graduate Catalog. Students are urged to review carefully the section pertaining to the degree sought. Advisory Committee  At the master’s level, the Advisory Committee shall consist of at least: 1) two members from the TECS graduate faculty, and 2) a third committee member who is a NC State University Graduate Faculty Member, but is not part of the TECS Core Faculty.