Students may elect to complete a thesis for the degree Masters of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD). Students who successfully complete a thesis are not required to take the CSD comprehensive examinations, unless they are completing a concentration. In cases where a thesis student is also pursuing a concentration, that student must complete the associated comprehensive exam question for the concentration.

The thesis is intended to be a rigorous introduction to the processes and procedures of clinical research. It is one option for students seeking research experience. The purpose of this manual is to give students guidelines for developing and carrying out their thesis and standards for submitting their work.

The major goal of the thesis experience is to provide the students with an opportunity to address questions of clinical relevance, and to become engaged in research within an area of clinical interest. The thesis presents an opportunity to integrate theory and practice, and to stimulate critical analysis of information obtained through coursework and clinical practica.

There are three phases to the thesis process. In the first phase, students will develop the research proposal with the guidance of their advisor. Students are expected to identify specific research aims, describe a feasible design to address these specific aims, and write the thesis proposal (prospectus). Thesis students must enroll in CD-724-01 (Evidence-Based Practice and Research Methods for SLPs) for Spring of Year 1, where they will be supported in starting this phase of the thesis process. In this course, students will discuss areas of research interest and be matched with a potential thesis advisor. The potential thesis advisor and student discuss possible areas of research. The advisor and student may work together to develop a research question, or the advisor may guide the student towards a particular question. Following CD-724-01, a preliminary document, the thesis prospectus, is prepared. The student should consult with their advisor to engage second and third readers;  these readers should be consulted as the prospectus is developed. Once the written prospectus is completed, the research plan is presented to the thesis committee (i.e., all of the selected readers; note that the advisor is the first reader) for comments, suggestions, and approval during a thesis prospectus meeting. Once there is approval of the thesis prospectus, then the student can prepare and submit any needed proposal to the appropriate Institutional Review Board (IRB). The format of the thesis, the thesis prospectus meeting, and the IRB requirements are detailed below.

The second phase involves data collection and analysis. During this phase, students should meet with their thesis advisor on a regular basis and keep the second and third readers informed of progress on the completion of the project.

The third phase is the preparation of an oral presentation (i.e., thesis defense) and a completion of the final written document. The presentation allows students a chance to share and discuss out¬comes, and to receive valuable feedback about the project from faculty and students. It is also an opportunity to develop skills in presenting results in a concise and informative fashion, and effectively using visual aids. The thesis itself gives students a chance to practice writing a scientific paper, and to learn the elements required in professional writing. Although it is not a requirement for the thesis, in some cases this process will result in submission of an article for publication. The format of the thesis defense and the final written document are described below.

In order to begin the formal thesis process, students should first read through this manual to become familiar with the process and read a selection of completed theses, which are available through ProQuest Dissertations or the CSD program office. Students should then meet with their academic advisor(s) if they have any concerns as to whether they meet the minimum academic requirements to begin the thesis process.