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Graduate Studies

College of Graduate Studies
Office: Morrill Hall Room 104
Mailing: 875 Perimeter Drive MS 3017
Moscow, Idaho 83844-3017
Phone: (208) 885-6243
Fax: (208) 885-6198

Master's Thesis Proposal Tips

By Jodie Nicotra, Department of English and Amy Ross, UI Writing Center

Writing an overview of your project is designed not only to formally announce your intentions as far as your Master’s thesis goes, but also to help you become more fluent in and informed about the topic for your project. 7-8 double-spaced pages should probably be enough.

Broken into fully developed sections, each with a heading, this overview should include:

1. Introduction.
  • Introduces the topic in broad terms.
  • States how you came to be interested in the topic.
  • Briefly summarizes the context and significance of the project.
  • Creates reader interest in the project.

2. Statement of problem or question.

  • Frames the problem or question that your thesis will be addressing.
  • The problem is an issue that arises out of the scholarly literature, theory, or practice that
    necessitates further study.
  • Answers, plainly and clearly, the question “why does this research need to be conducted?”

3. Literature review.

  • Relates the proposed project to specific questions and areas of inquiry within the field.
  • Situates the project within the “conversation” of a field. Who in the field would be interested in
    reading your thesis?
  • Explains how your project will extend, revise, or complicate what is already known.
  • For a proposal, the literature review should be relatively brief, and should cite/incorporate only
    the most appropriate sources for establishing the work that’s been done on the subject.

4. Statement of overall purpose.

  • Should include a statement that begins “The purpose of this study is…”
  • Provides a clear and succinct synopsis of the project.
  • Identifies and defines the central concepts of the study.
  • Identifies the method of study.

5. Chapter overviews.

  • Includes titles, indicates what question you plan to answer and why this particular site is the best one to answer this question.

6. Explanation of limitations.

  • What is your project not addressing and why?
  • What are some of the weaknesses of your approach to the topic?

7. Statement of project’s significance.

  • What specifically will this project contribute to the field? How will it address the questions or gaps in scholarship that you identified in your literature review? Why is it important to do?

8. Work plan/timeline.
9. Bibliography.