Thesis Option (Plan 1)

Because most of our master's students obtain the M.A. on their way to earning a Ph.D. degree, they are expected to opt for the thesis option to obtain valuable research experience.

Students who select the master's degree thesis option (Plan 1) must complete 32 units of coursework (usually eight courses) and prepare a thesis, which is a written report of original scholarship that makes an important contribution to knowledge about communication.

A thesis is a written report of an empirical research project that explores an important issue in communication. Theses within the program generally are expected to be quantitative, data-based and theory driven. Data may be generated by the student using one or more of the methods of the social sciences: survey research, experimental methods, content analysis, secondary data analysis and computational methods.

The thesis often is based on research that the student's major professor and the student conduct collaboratively, with the student primarily responsible for executing the study and writing the thesis report.

Thesis research begins with a thesis proposal, which the student must submit to the M.A. committee for approval before initiating data collection. For most projects, the thesis proposal will include the following parts:

•    Review of relevant research, including a theoretical rationale for the proposed study

•    Hypotheses or research questions

•    A description of the methods and instruments to be employed, and the data analysis strategy

•    A description of the statistical methods to be used to test the hypotheses

•    A References section

Plan 1 students are encouraged to think about their topic early in their program. Keep in mind as well that thesis research involving human subjects will require submission of a human subjects review application. Approval by the campus human subjects review committee can take several weeks to obtain.

The Department of Communication does not specify a minimum or maximum length for a thesis. The student's major professor and committee will offer guidance on thesis components and length. The thesis also must conform to UC Davis formatting requirements.

The student must defend the thesis before the M.A. committee in a thesis defense meeting. The best way to ensure a successful outcome is to interact often and in detail with all members of the committee throughout the thesis research endeavor. The committee has the option of accepting the thesis, accepting it with revision, or rejecting it.