Thesis Option

The thesis option is recommended for all students in the program but is required for those who are considering pursuing a PhD in international studies or a related field. Students electing to write a thesis must complete GIST 898 and produce an original research project with a range of 50 to 100 pages of text, not including notes, references, tables, figures, or appendices.

For additional information about the thesis option and course planning, please see our Thesis Option Degree Checklist (PDF). Students should refer to the GIST handbook and KU's formatting guidelines for theses. 

Working with Your Thesis Committee

The thesis will be supervised and evaluated by a three-person faculty committee; two of these committee members should be tenure-track faculty at KU affiliated with CGIS. Your committee members should be instructors who share your research interests and with whom you have taken previous coursework.

Your committee chair will serve as the primary advisor for your project, give you feedback on your thesis, and help you choose your other committee members. Students should work closely with their committee chair to develop a plan for writing, revising, and defending their thesis. The Center recommends that students utilize our Mentoring Agreement in early meetings with their committee chairs. Additionally, all MA students who have been enrolled in two or more semesters of thesis coursework (any combination of GIST 898: Thesis Writing and GIST 899: Thesis) must complete a Mentoring Agreement and have it approved by the graduate director each subsequent semester of enrollment. 

Oral Defense of Thesis

The oral defense stands in for the final oral examination required of all KU candidates for the MA degree. The student is responsible for scheduling the defense date, time, and location in coordination with the COGA advisor according to the committee members' schedules and the College’s deadlines for May, August, or December graduation. At least three weeks prior to the defense date, the date and time of the defense must be established and submitted to the graduate advisor in order to have his/her defense approved by the College Office of Graduate Affairs. (Contact your COGA graduate advisor for a detailed defense timeline for the current semester.)

Additionally, the thesis must be submitted to the defense committee, the graduate director, and the graduate advisor a minimum of 10-days prior to a scheduled defense date. Failure to meet either of these deadlines will result in the defense date being pushed back, even if this changes the student's semester of completion.

Questions posed by committee members will focus on, but are not limited to, the thesis topic and are intended to provoke thought and explore challenging issues. Related topics are often probed to evaluate a student's overall knowledge of international studies and ability to formulate independent judgments. The duration of the exam is usually about one hour. The M.A. in Global and International Studies degree will be awarded after the student has passed this oral defense, completed any revisions in the thesis required by the faculty committee, and completed all other College graduation requirements. The committee may elect to give the student honors for the thesis at the time of the defense.

Should a repeat of the oral defense be necessary as determined by the student’s committee, this must take place no less than 30 days and no more than 90 days after the first attempt. The faculty committee for the first oral defense also administers the second oral examination. Students who fail the second exam will be dismissed from the program. 

Requirement for Continuous Enrollment
Students in any KU master's program are required to be continuously enrolled during the regular academic year (fall and spring semesters) from the time all courses are completed until all graduation requirements are completed. This means that if a student doesn't defend during his/her last semester of coursework, the student must keep enrolling in each subsequent spring and fall semester (and summer if the student will be graduating during the summer semester) until s/he finishes, usually enrolling in one credit hour of GIST 899: Thesis.

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