|Return To Resources|
THE INTERFAITH SEMINARY
Selecting a Topic
As you near your studies with IFS you will come closer and closer to formulating your master's thesis or doctoral dissertation. Of course the first step is to select a topic for your thesis/dissertation. Your adviser will ask you to select a topic and your adviser will either approve or disapprove it and help you clarify it if needed.
Before selecting your topic you might want to write down some ideas for your topic. Once you've done this you can discuss your ideas with your adviser who can help you narrow down your choices to one. Make your idea for your thesis/dissertation your own. Make it your original and something you can be proud of. It's ok to consider the ideas of others but ultimately the thesis/dissertation must be your own.
Create an Outline
Once you and your adviser have agreed on a topic the next step is to formulate an outline for your thesis/dissertation. Remember it's just an outline and it doesn't have to be set in concrete. Make it a working outline. Share and discuss your outline with your adviser. He/she may suggest changes or additions.
Gathering Materials/Formulating Research
IFS graduate and doctoral students have two options when it comes to their thesis or dissertation. The student has a choice of doing a thesis/dissertation involving original research or doing one one previously published material.
Students choosing to conduct original research must formulate their own original material such as surveys, questionnaires, assessment forms, etc. Your adviser can help you with this if you need help in developing these measuring tools. Once you have formulated your measuring tools present them to your assigned adviser for approval. If approved then you can begin your research. If not, your adviser will offer you ideas and suggestions for improving your measuring tools.
Students choosing the non-research option for their thesis/dissertation must research their selected subject matter for their thesis/dissertation and have it approved by their adviser. Under this option the student may study several books and gather much information on their selected topic and then write the actual thesis/dissertation. Remember that a bibliography MUST be included or your presentation will be returned to you.
Beginning & Writing Your Research/ Paper
Once your adviser has approved your subject and course of action you can begin your research/study. If you have chosen the non-research option be sure to take notes as you study and read. Don't hesitate to discuss issues that come up with your adviser as they can help you clarify and/or provide you with direction.
Sometimes it is helpful to read the research or material of others but do not copy it into your own thesis/dissertation other than using brief quotes. Also, if you do this give the original writer/researcher credit. For instance you might want to do something like this:
“Our study found that 1 in 5 people say they suffer from periodic depression.”
(“Periodic Depression” by John Doe, Thesis Paper, 2005, Harvard University, pp. 367).
If you chose the research option after you have compiled your data the next thing to do is put all your figures together and interpret what they mean. You can use tables, graphs, etc. and include them in your thesis/dissertation.
Following are the requirements and formats for student thesis/dissertations at IFS:
If you chose this option your thesis/dissertation must be a minimum of 20 pages in length. It should include the following sections:
Title Page, About the Author (you), Introduction, Table of Contents (optional), Text of your thesis/dissertation, Summary & Assessment Conclusion, Bibliography. Include your insights, opinions, etc. in the assessment and/or conclusion sections of your paper.
If you chose this option your thesis/dissertation must be a minimum of 20 pages in length. It must include the following sections:
Title Page, About the Author (you), Introduction, Table of Contents, Hypothesis Statement (state and explain your hypothesis), Research Methods Utilized (in this section state how you collected your data and identify the measuring tools you used such as a survey, explain why you chose this method of research, include a copy of your survey, questionnaires, etc.), Statement of Results (in this section state the results/your findings), Summary & Assessment (summarize your findings in this section and interpret and explain your data), Conclusions (in this section state and explain the conclusions you have come to as the result of your research data, include your insights and opinions in this section as well), Bibliography.
Submitting Your Thesis/Dissertation
Before officially submitting your thesis/dissertation you might want to send your adviser a rough draft and discuss it with them. Your adviser can help you clarify and provide you with feedback. Once you have finalized your paper send it to your adviser who will present it to IFS for evaluation by the Thesis/Dissertation Committee.
The Committee may ask you to clarify something they find in your thesis/dissertation and they may ask you to write a defense concerning something you stated in your original thesis/dissertation so you MUST be prepared to answer their questions and defend your statements contained in your thesis/dissertation.
If the committee feels your presentation is substandard then your thesis/dissertation will be returned to you along with a statement from the committee telling you why it was returned and with suggestions for improvement. In this case, you will have to rewrite your thesis, do more research, etc. and submit it again. If you fail to do so then your thesis/dissertation will be rejected and you will not be allowed to graduate until you follow the suggestions of the committee.
Once the thesis/dissertation committee approves your thesis/dissertation you will be notified by your adviser. Please note that the thesis/dissertation is NOT awarded a grade. They are either approved or rejected by the committee and approval or rejection will be reflected on your official transcript. The committee will advise IFS that you have completed all academic requirements for graduation and will recommend you for graduation. IFS will then advise the Finance Department who will either certify that you have paid your tuition in full or not. If Finance advises IFS your tuition is paid in full then you will be allowed to graduate. If Finance advises IFS you owe monies you will NOT be allowed to graduate until you pay monies owed to IFS.
Your adviser is available to help you not only with your studies put with every step of your thesis/dissertation so don't hesitate to ask him/her for help!!