Master's Thesis Process
The Graduate Committee meets once a month to review and approve academic student matters; therefore, please plan accordingly.
Step 1. Identify an advisor, a thesis topic, and your thesis reading committee
A. You are encouraged to talk to various faculty members regarding possible thesis topics and to begin this process immediately upon embarking on a degree program. Composition of your reading committee should be decided in conjunction with your advisor.
B. The committee consists of at least three members. The advisor or one of the co-advisors must be a tenure-track (academic) Woodruff School faculty member, or a Woodruff School research faculty member with an earned doctorate. Two members of the M.S. Thesis Reading Committee must be tenure-track (academic faculty with primary or joint appointments in the Woodruff School). All committee members must have an earned doctorate or equivalent professional experience.
Step 2. Submit the Request for Approval of Master's Thesis Topic Form
A. Fill out the Request for Approval of Master's Thesis Topic form (http://www.grad.gatech.edu/sites/default/files/documents/mastersthstopicform_aug27.pdf) with only your signature and that of your advisor in time for a Woodruff School Graduate Committee meeting. No other signatures are needed at this time. Bring the form to the Office of Student Services for processing.
B. At the same time, your faculty advisor must email a short justification for the composition of your reading committee to Dr. Andrei Fedorov AGF@gatech.edu and cc your Academic Advisor. This step should be completed as early as possible, but not later than the submission of the petition for degree.
Please Note: If a proposed member is not a Georgia Tech faculty member, a CV of that proposed member must also accompany the request. The advisor must also inform the Woodruff School Graduate Committee in the event the thesis contains any proprietary information that will require a delay in placing the thesis in the library.
Step 3. Receive approval from the Woodruff School Graduate Committee and then obtain signatures of remaining committee members
A. After the Woodruff School Graduate Committee approves your master's thesis reading committee and your Request for Approval of Master's Thesis Topic, you will receive an email from the Office of Student Services.
B. Please pick up your original copy of the Request for Approval of Master's Thesis Topic form from the Office of Student Services. Obtain the signatures of the other members of your reading committee. Bring the completed form to the Office of Student Services for the signature of the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies and additional processing.
Change in Thesis Title or Abstract
If there are any changes in your Thesis Title or Abstract, please complete an updated Request for Approval of Master's Thesis Topic form. Indicate on the form that this is only a change in title, abstract, or both. You and your advisor must sign the form and submit it to the Office of Student Services for processing. Changes to a master's thesis title or abstract are handled administratively and need not go to the Woodruff School Graduate Committee for approval.
Change in Thesis Reading Committee
If there are any changes to your Master's Thesis Reading Committee, it must be submitted to the Office of Student Services on an updated Request for Approval of Master's Thesis Topic. Your faculty advisor must e-mail a short justification for the change in Reading Committee to the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, Dr. Andrei Fedorov AGF@gatech.edu. Upon approval by the Woodruff School Graduate Committee, the Request for Approval of Master's Thesis Topic form will be returned to you, so that you can secure the signatures of the new reading committee members. Return the completed form to the Office of Student Services
Writing the Master's Thesis
The purpose of the master's thesis is to further your educational development by requiring you to plan, conduct, and report an organized and systematic study of importance. In keeping with the Woodruff School’s policy of educating both practicing and research engineers, a thesis might range from a design project to a fundamental research investigation. Although you may propose a thesis topic and seek an advisor, the usual procedure is for you to work on a problem suggested by a faculty member. If you are employed on a sponsored research project, the thesis will usually be derived from this work.
Suggested Content of the Thesis
A master's thesis should present information in four steps:
- Describe a problem or question
- Motivate the problem or question
- Provide a solution to that problem or an answer to the question
- Discuss or validate the solution or answer.
The first two of these steps provide introductory information that generally fills one or two chapters of the final document. The information provided in the third and fourth steps is governed by the scope of the project and by the kind of documentation that is deemed appropriate to the project. An experimental project, for example, is likely to require different kinds of evidence than might a redesign project. Such differences in the standards for evidence will directly impact the length of the final thesis, and they will impact the kinds of illustrations that are selected for inclusion in the final document.
Next is a list of the most common format headings for a master's thesis. Under each heading, we list the kinds of information typically presented under that heading. These information listings are necessarily schematic. Since thesis documents will vary according to project scope and evidentiary standards, you should view the listings as a point of departure from which to begin your own work.
On one sheet of paper, list the problem(s) addressed by the project and the solutions that are reported in the thesis.
Describe the need or question that is addressed in the project. Also, explain the benefits of addressing the need or answering the question, and explain briefly what solution you have developed.
Describe the background of the need or question, addressing some combination of the following:
- A review of published literature
- A survey of existing products or patents
- A survey of industrial efforts to address the problem or need
Explain your strategy for addressing the problem, including theory and comparative benchmarks, as required. Describe the specific steps you have taken to address the problem, such as experimentation, computer modeling or simulation, and design and evaluation.
Results and Discussion
Present, explain, and evaluate the results obtained on each component of the project.
Summarize your conclusions and outline the questions raised or left open by your project.
Step 1. Provide the completed written thesis to your committee members
A. Master's students who are preparing a thesis must give an oral presentation of their work. This presentation is not a formal defense. Rather, approval of the thesis is based upon the written document. The presentation may be scheduled only after the members of your M.S. Thesis Reading Committee have reviewed the completed written document and consider the thesis to be satisfactory. A copy of the completed final draft of the thesis must be in the hands of your reading committee before you are allowed to continue with scheduling the oral presentation.
Step 2. Schedule the M.S. Thesis Oral Presentation and submit the Thesis Presentation Announcement to the Office of Student Services
A. Poll the members of your reading committee to establish a date and time for the presentation. Reserve a room for your oral presentation. Submit your announcement at the following link:
This step must be completed at least two weeks (14 days) before the presentation. The announcement will be posted to the Woodruff School calendar.
Step 3. Submit the Certificate of Thesis Approval
A. Before your presentation, complete a Certificate of Thesis Approval form and bring it to your M.S. Thesis Reading Committee members for them to sign the form to show their acceptance of your thesis.
B. Also download the Thesis/Proposal/Dissertation Assessment form and bring it to your presentation. Each committee member must fill out and sign the form at the conclusion of your presentation and give the form to the committee chair, who will seal them in an envelope and sign across the flap.
C. Both of the above forms must be handed in to the Office of Student Services.
You must be registered during the semester in which the final presentation occurs, unless an Enrollment Waiver (http://registrar.gatech.edu/docs/pdf/Enrollment_Waiver_form.pdf) is requested and approved.
Submitting the Master's Thesis
You are urged to have your thesis format checked before making the final copies for your committee. To make an appointment to have the format of your thesis checked, please call the Graduate Thesis Office (Savant Building, Room 318) at 404-894-3092, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are deadlines for the initial format check that is one week before the final submission deadline. There is a recommended deadline, but initial format checks will not be done in the week leading up to the thesis deadline; only final submissions will be checked that week. The specific requirements for the format, publication, and distribution of the thesis are explained here: http://gradadmiss.gatech.edu/theses-dissertations
Electronic Submission of Theses and Dissertations
Paper copies should be given to your advisor and the members of your reading committee, unless the members request a different format.
Please submit your theses electronically to the Graduate Studies office: grad.gatech.edu/theses-dissertations-electronic-submission
Enter the requested information about yourself and your thesis/dissertation and upload your thesis or dissertation in PDF format. Once you submit the documents electronically, an e-mail notice will be sent to your committee members.
The Thesis Approval Page will be the second page in your thesis/dissertation, but it will not show any signatures. List the committee members who approved your thesis or dissertation, but remove the signature lines and be certain you type in the date, which is the date that the final draft of your thesis/dissertation was approved.
The Graduate Office will check your electronic document and let you know about any corrections you must make. Make the corrections and resubmit the corrected file. If the Graduate Office has all the related documents, your thesis/dissertation will be approved and they will notify the Registrar's Office that you are eligible to graduate. Once you have graduated, your thesis/dissertation will be released for electronic circulation.