M.S. degree 1st & 2nd quarter procedures

Elect thesis or non-thesis option

The Department offers two options for its M.S. students: the non-thesis option and the thesis option. Students entering the M.S. program should decide between these two options as soon as possible. Students who choose the thesis option are responsible for contacting faculty members about the availability of suitable research topics and opportunities. Please be aware that this process may be very competitive. Students must receive approval from a faculty member in order to pursue the thesis option.

By the end of the second quarter, students should choose an option. The choice is indicated by which "Plan of Study" form is filed.

Non-thesis option

The non-thesis option is the department's default option for M.S. students. Students take 42 credits of numerically graded courses. Among these 42 credits, up to 9 credits can be research credits in the form of ME 598 Graduate Projects. This allows students the opportunity for research experience in the form of a project within the non-thesis option. If full-time status is maintained, students taking the non-thesis option can usually graduate in 5 quarters.

Thesis option

Students take 30 credits of numerically graded coursework plus 12 credits of thesis research. Although the thesis research totals only 12 credits, the actual work to complete a thesis often far exceeds the 12 credits. (In other words, almost all thesis students graduate with more than 12 thesis credits, but only 12 credits of these can be counted toward graduation requirements.) If full-time status is maintained, a student in the thesis option nominally graduates in 7-8 quarters. Students desiring in-depth research experience and students who plan to continue into the Ph.D. program in the future might consider selecting the thesis option. Currently, less than half of M.S. students in the department take the thesis option.

Select faculty supervisor

The Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) is initially assigned as faculty supervisor for all master's students when they enter the program. Students are encouraged to select their permanent faculty supervisor as soon as possible, but recommended not later than the second quarter of enrollment. To identify potential supervisors, look at the faculty in your research area of interest.

For students in the non-thesis option, the faculty supervisor should be someone in their coursework interest area. The faculty supervisor will advise students on appropriate courses to take and on general academic/career topics. The faculty supervisor will also approve the student’s Plan of Study form and sign the ME Warrant when the student graduates.

For students in the thesis option, the faculty supervisor is usually their thesis adviser. The faculty supervisor will advise students for coursework and research. The faculty supervisor will approve the student’s Plan of Study form, chair the students’ supervisory committee, and sign the ME Warrant when the student graduates.

Submit "Plan of Study" form

A Plan of Study form is available for thesis and non-thesis options, and must be approved and signed by the student's faculty supervisor before being returned to the Graduate Advising Office by the end of the second quarter. Students are encouraged to review the suggested ME curriculum before submitting the Plan of Study form. Students should meet with their faculty supervisors periodically to confirm the schedule of courses being taken and to approve any revisions of this plan.

EDGE and part-time students

These students normally choose the non-thesis option. EDGE and part-time students also need to select a faculty supervisor and submit a "Plan of Study" form by the end of the quarter in which they first complete 18 credits in the M.S. program.