Final Year: Master's Thesis
Master’s Thesis Proposal
The Master’s Thesis must be original research with practical application to a specific environmental problem. Normally linked to some part of the student’s internship, the thesis should reflect the multifaceted nature of an actual environmental issue by investigating aspects of the natural and social sciences and the humanities. Students utilize knowledge and experience from their first-year course work and internship to develop a thorough analysis, then recommend policies or action on their chosen problem. With prior approval, students may complete a nontraditional Master’s Thesis, which may take other than a written form, including multimedia educational materials, a conference or workshop, an exhibition, or a prototype technology.
The student begins to formalize thesis ideas during the first year in consultation with a faculty thesis adviser. The internship allows the student to explore policy issues of interest, and usually serves as the springboard for the student’s project. During the fall semester of the second year, a formal proposal is presented to the student’s adviser, who chairs the individual’s Master’s Thesis Committee. The committee is composed of three members, two of whom are faculty; the third committee member should be an outside expert who provides specialized advice on the thesis. Initial project work is then begun under the guidance of both the adviser and the outside expert.
Master’s Thesis Seminar
This seminar is attended by all second-year students and all faculty members of the graduate committee and serves as a platform for students to present progress reports on their thesis research and systematically analyze substantive issues stemming from their work. Students discuss methodological challenges encountered during their projects, and special attention is given to how statistics, data, and graphs are used in conveying project results. The seminar provides the opportunity for students to explore together the applied interaction among science, political forces, values, and particular economic interests in producing policy outcomes. The seminar also offers students the chance to receive critiques of their work not only from their peers but also a team of professors from different disciplines who lead the class together.
The thesis must be approved by the student’s Master’s Thesis Committee as the final requirement for graduation. Following completion of the thesis, the student gives a public presentation. A list of recent Master's Thesis topics can be found here.