University at Albany


The final research thesis represents the culmination of the degree. It provides evidence of the student's academic work, and will be used to represent the student for any further doctoral program applications and/or employment following completion of the degree. In planning this thesis, students should begin to formulate a research topic as early as possible in their course of study, and should choose their individual courses accordingly. They may also find it useful to compile and revise annotated bibliographies as a way to help define their area of study. Other recommendations will be made by the thesis committee as appropriate.

Forming the Thesis Committee

The student begins this process by consulting with the Director or a designated faculty advisor, who will assist in identifying faculty members who might direct the research.  The thesis committee must consist of at least two full-time faculty members, one of whom will serve as the committee director, the other as second reader.  In appropriate cases, a third committee member is possible, though not required.  Faculty members from other institutions are also permitted to serve as second or third reader with the approval of the Director.  

The student will present prospective committee members with a draft of a 1,500-2,000-word research prospectus, along with a draft of a bibliography of at least 25 items that define the principal area of research. The bibliography must include primary texts and/or objects of research, and secondary theoretical/critical texts, which together will constitute the basic subject matter of the thesis. Working with the committee, the student will then revise the draft prospectus and bibliography as necessary.  When the committee has approved both documents, the student will submit them to the Director along with a signed memorandum of approval from the committee members. When the Director approves the prospectus, he or she will formally constitute the thesis committee, name one member as thesis director and will notify all others of his/her appointment. The completion of this process will allow the student to enroll in GLS 699.

Guidelines for Completion and Submission of the Thesis

Once the committee has been constituted, the student will continue to work on the reading list and draft the chapters of the thesis. The student will be expected to work independently, while also to communicating regularly with committee members to discuss progress and problems and to determine the direction of further work.

The faculty member designated as first reader on the committee is charged with supervising the writing process, with advice and participation from the second reader being determined at the discretion of both committee members.  The first reader is charged with being accessible to the student, establishing and maintaining the protocols governing the student-committee relationship, compiling all relevant correspondence, calling any meetings of the committee and student, setting the date of completion, and other administrative tasks. The student is charged with completing the work, and keeping the committee members informed of his or her progress, but should also remember that faculty members have classes during the school year and may have research plans for the summer.  Deadlines, turnaround times for preparatory materials prior to submission of the final document, and the date for final submission of the thesis must be explicit and agreed upon well in advance.  The above process is subject to the review of the Director, who is expected to be available for consultation with both the student and the faculty committee, and who is further charged with approving the final research project.  Changes in the student’s committee are possible at the request of either the student or the faculty committee members, with the Director’s consent.

Other research thesis projects may be formulated in consultation with the committee and submitted with the written approval of the committee and Director.  The research project normally emerges from the students’ academic work in the Liberal Studies program. Accordingly, it is typically influenced by the coursework completed for the degree; the final thesis, however, must consist of substantially new research and writing, beyond work done in fulfillment of course requirements.  Students are responsible for reviewing the relevant University regulations published in the Graduate Bulletin.  Once the thesis has been completed and approved by the thesis committee, it should be prepared for final submission in accordance with the guidelines established by the University Library and the Office of Graduate Studies, and submitted to the Director for final approval.