One West University Boulevard, Brownsville, Texas 78520 | 956-882-8200


Some UTB master’s degree programs allow for a thesis as part of the program of study. In consultation with the Faculty Advisor, students should carefully consider their career goals in deciding between a Thesis and a Non-Thesis degree. Some academic institutions regard a Non-Thesis master’s degree as a terminal degree program. Students who intend to pursue the doctoral degree should seriously consider undertaking a thesis.

Students in programs that require a thesis must complete the six required hours of thesis credit. Thesis courses may be repeated and are counted in determining course load limits for a semester or Summer session, although credit for these courses is given only once. Students who register for the thesis course must continue to register each succeeding semester or summer session until the thesis is completed.

The student shall choose, in consultation with their faculty advisor, a thesis committee consisting of three graduate faculty members including the student’s thesis faculty advisor (who chairs the committee). In addition, the chair of the thesis committee will identify one graduate faculty member from outside the college of the degree program to serve as
Graduate Faculty Representative.  The Graduate Faculty Representative will only serve to monitor the integrity of the thesis process and will facilitate the thesis defense as outlined by the Guidelines for Thesis Defense.  The committee will be approved by the student’s thesis advisor, the Graduate Coordinator or Program Director, the Department Chair, and the Graduate Dean. The thesis topic and written prospectus must be approved in writing by the thesis Faculty Advisor, the thesis committee, and the Dean of Graduate Studies prior to the student’s undertaking the research problem. All research involving human subjects must also be approved by the Human Subjects Research Review Committee (HSRRC) prior to collection of any data. Similarly, all research involving live vertebrate animals must also be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) prior to collection of any data. Instructions for the preparation of the thesis and information on the HSRRC and the IACUC can be obtained from the academic department or Office of Graduate Studies.

The thesis committee will judge the research competence of the student during the thesis defense meeting.  The Graduate Program representative will be provided a copy of the thesis one week prior to the defense. Thesis defense meetings are announced in advance and open to the university community. Students are responsible for adhering to all due dates regarding the thesis defense, submission of copies of the thesis to the Office of Graduate Studies, and binding (see university class schedule for dates, fees and deposits). The student must complete all course work for the degree within seven years of the time of the first graduate course registration. Courses older than seven years will not apply towards the degree. Students who have compelling reasons for interruption of their graduate degree may petition the Office of Graduate Studies for an extension of time. 

Student's THESIS Completion Checklist 

1. Students intending to write a thesis should take the following steps beginning early in the semester prior to enrolling in your first thesis course:

  • Read carefully the instructions available on the Graduate Studies website, and review a copy of the UTB “Master’s Thesis Guide,”
  • Choose a thesis advisor and committee (at least two more professors) by consulting with faculty members and the Department’s Graduate Program Coordinator. The Graduate Program Coordinator will request that a section of Thesis I be opened for you with your advisor as the instructor of record.

2.  You must enroll for a minimum of six required hours of thesis credit in a period of at least two semesters.  If you do not successfully defend your thesis in the two semester period, you must continue to register for a thesis course continuously every subsequent semester until the thesis is completed. 

3. During the first semester of thesis credit you should complete the following:

  • a Thesis Application.  Apply for Thesis at the Office of Graduate Studies and submit it early in the semester. The form will require for you to give an expected date of completion and the faculty advisor’s signature.
  • a Thesis Proposal. The proposal/prospectus is a required element for successfully completing the first thesis course. It should:
  • describe the thesis topic including a research question and working hypothesis,
  • explain the significance of the research topic,
  • demonstrate familiarity with the historiography on the topic,
  • include an outline of the thesis,
  • include a bibliography of primary and secondary sources,
  • be no more than 10 pages in length,
  • be formatted in appropriate style for your program for example: Chicago Style according to the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style (use notes-bibliography style, not parenthetical citations-reference list style).
  • a Thesis Proposal Approval Form. The thesis proposal must be approved by the student’s advisor and committee. You should prepare the form based on the model in the “Master’s Thesis Guide.” Your thesis advisor should convene a meeting of the committee and you to discuss a draft of the proposal before signing the form and submitting the prospectus to the Graduate Studies Office. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure consensus among the committee members and to provide preliminary feedback to you before you continue with your thesis.
  • If applicable, you must obtain approval from the Human Subjects Research Review Committee (HSRRC) and/or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).

4. In cooperation with your Thesis Committee Chair and the Office of Graduate Studies, set a date and time for the Thesis Defense.  You should follow the deadlines published in the university calendar when scheduling your thesis defense.  Note that the deadline to defend masters’ theses usually falls approximately four weeks before the end of the term. Committee members should receive the thesis at least two weeks before the defense. 

5. Thesis Defense:  Once you are ready to defend your thesis, you must

  • Submit two copies of the final draft of the thesis at least one week prior to the Thesis Defense to the Office of Graduate Studies.

6. Submit PDF file to UTB Electronic Thesis Submission Site via Graduate Studies Office.

For comments and questions, please contact the Webmaster.