The thesis is the most important document that you will prepare during your time in the master's degree program. It represents your approach to an original research question and serves as an archival record of the scientific accomplishments that justify the awarding of your degree. Ideally, the thesis could be used as a springboard to a subsequent grant application.
The thesis contains complete documentation of your approach to the research question, including:
- A comprehensive review of the literature related to your thesis topic
- A discussion of the significance and potential impact of your research question
- Methods and measures used to address that question
- A discussion of your results, taking into account their strengths and limitations, how they fit with and extend existing knowledge, and implications for future practice
- Next steps to be taken as a result of your research
When including published papers or manuscripts in your thesis, the status of the paper can be any of the following:
- Already published
- Submitted and accepted
- Submitted and in review
- Not yet submitted
An introductory page prior to each manuscript should be included that provides the title, authors, current publication status, copyright information (if applicable) and a statement outlining the specific contributions of each author.
Remember that because you received funding through the CTSA — and may have used CTSA services and resources to support your research — you are required to cite the grant.
For more information about thesis content and format, review Mayo Graduate School's guidelines for a master's thesis (must be logged in to the Mayo network).
Final thesis review process
- Mentor review. You must submit a final draft of your thesis to your mentor for review prior to submitting it to the CTSA Postdoctoral Programs Committee.
CTSA Postdoctoral Programs Committee review. If your thesis is acceptable to your mentor, a final draft should be forwarded to the CTSA Postdoctoral Programs Committee, along with:
- A summary statement from your mentor that explains your role in design, conduct, analysis and reporting; and verifies that the research is scientifically sound, was conducted by you, you are the primary author of the thesis and any manuscripts or published articles included in the thesis, and the thesis is accurate and clearly written.
- A cover letter from you that outlines any papers, presentations and grant applications that are planned, pending or have been submitted as a result of your thesis research.
- The Verification that the Thesis is Ready to Defend form, which must be signed by your mentor and indicate that your thesis is ready for defense.
In order to obtain approval to proceed with your final thesis defense, you must submit the final draft of your thesis to the CTSA Postdoctoral Programs Committee at least six weeks prior to your anticipated defense date.
The CTSA Postdoctoral Programs Committee reserves the right to not accept a thesis if it does not meet its or Mayo Graduate School's standards and may request revisions or additions to the thesis. The committee must approve the thesis before the scholar may proceed to defend the thesis.
- Distribution to your Thesis Advisory Committee. When you receive approval from the CTSA Postdoctoral Programs Committee, you may distribute copies of your final thesis draft and the verification form to all members of your Thesis Advisory Committee. All of your Thesis Advisory Committee members must have copies of your thesis at least three weeks before the date of your defense, and you must notify the CTSA postdoctoral programs coordinator of the date, time and location (building and room number) of your scheduled defense.
Final Oral Examination (thesis defense)
You are expected to pass your Final Oral Examination — a public forum in which you present your research and then take questions from the audience — before the completion of your degree program.
The Final Oral Examination cannot be scheduled until after all of these criteria have been met:
- The Comprehensive Written Examination has been passed
- All courses on your degree program form have been completed with a GPA of 3.0 or higher
- Required workshops have been attended
- The CTSA Postdoctoral Programs Committee has reviewed your thesis and determined that you may proceed to the final defense
You are responsible for identifying a date, time and location for your Final Oral Examination. All of your Thesis Advisory Committee members must be either physically present at your defense or connected in real time by videoconference or teleconference. Given that the schedules of many people are involved, you are encouraged to begin searching for a suitable date, time and location at least three months before you plan to defend. Note that an absent member will count as a "fail" vote. To pass, you can receive no more than one "fail" vote.
After the public forum portion of your Final Oral Examination, your Thesis Advisory Committee will meet with you in a closed session and ask additional questions. You are then dismissed, and your Thesis Advisory Committee grades your examination.
If you fail the Final Oral Examination, your Thesis Advisory Committee will recommend a course of remedial studies that should be undertaken before you retake the exam. The Final Oral Examination may be taken no more than twice and must be retaken within six months. Failing the exam twice will result in dismissal from the Postdoctoral Master's Degree Program.
Final thesis corrections
After you have passed the Final Oral Examination, all members of your Thesis Advisory Committee must sign the Verification of Thesis Corrections form, which indicates that they are satisfied that any final corrections to your thesis have been made.
Mayo Graduate School will not certify completion of your degree requirements until the final thesis has been electronically submitted via ProQuest. See Mayo Graduate School thesis guidelines for additional information (must be logged in to the Mayo network.)