Thesis Option for the Master of Science Program in Mathematics

Sam Houston State University

(Approved Fall 2010)


A graduate student pursuing a Master of Science degree in mathematics may choose to write a thesis or may choose to complete a research project.  The thesis requires at least six credit hours of significant mathematical study and writing under the supervision of a graduate faculty member.  (Details are provided below.)  The research project is less strenuous, involving three credit hours of independent study with a mathematics faculty member.  A decision about this option (thesis/project) must be made by the graduate student during his/her second semester of study.


During the second semester of his/her first year as a graduate student and with the consultation of the graduate faculty in mathematics, a student may choose to pursue the thesis option. A student choosing this option must first present a preliminary report on his/her research topic. This presentation should be made to the graduate faculty during the second semester of enrollment as a graduate student. The thesis topic should represent a specific problem that is appropriate for independent investigation and should first be approved by the student's future thesis advisor. Following the presentation of a preliminary report, the graduate faculty may pose questions to the student in order to determine their level of understanding of the material discussed in their first year of coursework and to gauge their preparation for the process of completing a thesis.  After presenting the report and receiving approval from the graduate faculty to pursue a thesis, the student must submit a thesis prospectus to the College of Science.


A student pursuing the thesis option may petition the Graduate Committee to have the number of required written comprehensive exams reduced for their degree plan. Such a student should have clearly achieved mastery of the subject for which they are requesting a waiver of the written comprehensive exam. After consulting with the instructors of the core courses the student has completed in preparation for the comprehensive exams and with the proposed thesis committee, the Graduate Committee may agree to conditionally waive some, all, or none of the required exams. The decision to excuse a student from a written comprehensive exam will be made at the end of the Spring semester following the student's completion of the core mathematics courses. A student who opts to pursue a thesis but fails to satisfactorily complete a thesis is then required to complete the conditionally waived exams in order to complete the graduation requirements for a Master of Science degree.


Additional links:

  1. University library guidelines for submitting a thesis

  2. Directions on thesis format

  3. Graduate school expectations for a thesis

  4. Department guidelines for a thesis prospectus


  5. Return to MS-Math program page

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