A part of each graduate student's program is the demonstrated ability to do individual, independent work of a creative and/or investigative type in an area related to the student's major field. Such ability may be demonstrated by a thesis or, in certain programs and departments, by the alternate plan paper, or in some programs, by another type of capstone experience. Students should consult the Guidelines to Capstone Experiences.
The thesis must show independent thought in the recognition of a clearly defined problem and in the method of its treatment. It involves extended research resulting in a significant contribution to new knowledge. The thesis content must be relevant to the degree program involved, conform to an approved manual of style, and be approved by the student's examining committee and the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research.
A minimum of three thesis credits must be earned by a student following the thesis plan. A Master of Arts degree student and a Master of Science degree student may earn from 3 to 6 thesis credits.
Students should review the Guidelines to Capstone Experiences and Thesis/Alternate Plan Paper, available in the College of Graduate Studies and Research before starting the thesis. A Thesis Proposal must be approved by the student's examining committee prior to data collection. Papers involving research on human participants require IRB approval prior to data collection and thesis proposal approval. IRB proposal forms are available in the College of Graduate Studies and Research.
The creative/production thesis option is available in certain degree programs. For further information on this option, consult the appropriate program graduate coordinator.
The student may follow an alternate plan in programs where such an option is available. The alternate plan paper(s) includes a research requirement less extensive in nature than a thesis. However, the research should be significantly greater in quality and quantity than the standard graduate term paper. The thesis is oriented more toward original research, data gathering with statistical analysis, theory testing and theory building, whereas the alternate plan paper involves the usage of secondary research sources.
The research requirement for the alternate plan may be fulfilled in one of these ways:
- As part of a regular course in which case no discrete credit is given for the alternate plan paper;
- As part of an internship or practicum in which case the experiences are cataloged, evaluated and presented in written form as an alternate plan paper; or
- As one or two credits earned in the course entitled "Alternate Plan Paper Research." When this plan is followed, the professor supervising the study will ordinarily be the student's advisor.
A bound copy of the APP will no longer be kept in the Memorial Library, although students are encouraged to digitally submit their Alternate Plan Paper to the ProQuest Collection.
Students should review the Guidelines to Capstone Experiences and Thesis/Alternate Plan Paper before starting work on the project. Research involving human participants requires IRB approval prior to data collection. IRB application forms are available in the College of Graduate Studies and Research.
Guidelines for Graduate Research Involving Human Participants
Minnesota State University, Mankato policy requires adequate protection for human participants involved in research. All such research, whether or not federally funded, shall be reviewed in accordance with federal regulations requiring review at the institutional level. Students planning to involve human participants in their research for Thesis, Alternate Plan papers or other projects should review the Guidelines to Capstone Experiences and Thesis/Alternate Plan Paper and the Institutional Review Board information and guidelines. A completed Human Participants Research Form must be submitted and approved prior to data collection.