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
- 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.
- 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
- Complete the Request for Approval of Master's Thesis Topic form in the ME Graduate Handbook. Please go to the following link and follow the online instructions:
- Once the form is submitted, your faculty advisor will receive an automated email requesting a short justification for the composition of your reading committee.
Please Note: If a proposed member is not a Georgia Tech faculty member, a CV of that proposed member must also accompany the request. Please email the CV to your Staff Academic Advisor in the Office of Student Services.
Step 3. Receive approval from the Woodruff School Graduate Committee and then obtain signatures of remaining committee members
- 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.
- Please log into eSignature.gatech.edu to create an account with DocuSign. Once logged into DocuSign, complete the Request for Approval of Master’s Thesis Topic electronic form.
Please be sure to list Dr. Andrei Fedorov as the School Chair and your Staff Academic Advisor as the Graduate Coordinator. An email will send automatically requesting the required signatures. Everyone will receive a final, signed copy of the form.
Change in Thesis Title or Abstract
If there are any changes in your Thesis Title or Abstract, please complete a revised Request for Approval of Master's Thesis Topic form via DocuSign. Indicate on the form that this is only a change in title, abstract, or both. You and your advisor must sign the form. 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 a revised Request for Approval of Master's Thesis Topic form. Please follow the above instructions in steps 2 and 3 in order to have the new reading committee member(s) approved. If the person is not a Georgia Tech faculty member, please email the CV to your Staff Academic Advisor in 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
- 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 student’s thesis advisor has reviewed the completed written document and considers the thesis to be satisfactory.
Step 2. Schedule the M.S. Thesis Oral Presentation and submit the Thesis Presentation Announcement to the Office of Student Services
- 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 Final Forms
- The Thesis/Proposal/Dissertation Assessment form is now available in Qualtrics. Each committee member must complete the Qualtrics form at the conclusion of the presentation. The form will be routed to the Office of Student Services for further processing.
- After your presentation, complete the Certificate of MS Thesis Approval form via DocuSign. Please list Dr. Andrei Fedorov as the Graduate Coordinator/Staff Administrator. Your committee will sign off on your form via the email request. Please email a copy of the completed signed form to your Staff Academic Advisor once you receive it back.
- The committee chair will submit the forms to the Office of Student Services.
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:
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:
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.