Master of Urban Planning
Master's Thesis Guidelines
The MUP Thesis is scholarly applied or basic research conducted under the
formal thesis guidelines of the Department and Graduate College. Successful
completion of an MUP Thesis satisfies the MUP Capstone requirement.
The thesis should address an aspect of urban and regional planning, demonstrate
an ability to conduct independent research, exhibit original and critical
thinking, and apply knowledge acquired in courses to a specific set of research
questions. The topic may be an outgrowth of coursework, may involve
an issue of personal interest to the student not extensively covered in coursework,
or emerge from consultation with a faculty member.
The thesis may be directed toward the discovery of new facts or development
of theory, concepts, or frameworks, may be explanatory or exploratory, and
qualitative or quantitative in design. The thesis document usually
includes an abstract, a literature review to delineate a problem or gap in
existing knowledge, a statement of research objectives, an explanation of
the research design and methods, a report of results, and a discussion of
findings and implications for planning. The thesis option is most appropriate
for MUP students with strong interest in pursuing the PhD degree or a research-oriented
Graduate College thesis guidelines are outlined in the Thesis
Guidelines. MUP students who write a thesis must satisfy the
MUP Capstone requirements as
well as the following departmental guidelines for an MUP Thesis:
- Students pursuing a Master’s Thesis must complete 8 hours of UP
599 credit with a Thesis Advisor.
- The student is responsible for selecting a Thesis Advisor and establishing
a Thesis Committee, knowing and meeting all deadlines, submitting the applicable
petition, and meeting the requirements for an acceptable thesis.
- The student’s Thesis Advisor must be a member of the DURP faculty. In
consultation with the Thesis Advisor, the student will select at least
one additional faculty member to serve on the Thesis Committee. The
committee is charged with helping the student focus on a topic that meets
his or her academic goals and is practicable, with advising the student
in the design and conduct of the research, and with approving the final
result. Both the student and the committee should clearly articulate
their mutual expectations with respect to the amount of work to be done
and such expectations should be discussed prior to, and included in, as
part of the Capstone Proposal Form.
- According to the guidelines of the Institutional
Review Board for the protection of human subjects, “any human
subjects research activity that will ultimately contribute to part or
all of a thesis, dissertation, or other type of publication or presentation
MUST go through the IRB review process prior to enrolling subjects and
collecting data.” This means that IRB review must occur before
a study involving human subjects is undertaken.
- Researching and writing the thesis generally takes six months to one
year. The Thesis Committee reviews the thesis and determines whether
it meets appropriate standards of scope and quality.
- The written thesis is defended in an Oral Examination before the Thesis
Committee and any other interested faculty, students, and members of the
public (at least one committee member must be physically present at the
oral defense). The date, time and location of the Oral Examination
must be announced publicly at least one week in advance. An email
announcement to DURP faculty and students together with a posting of the
event on the departmental online calendar suffices as the public announcement. The
student is expected to answer questions about the thesis research questions,
design, and results at the Oral Examination.
- At the conclusion of the Oral Examination the committee will decide
- The thesis is acceptable as drafted and defended.
- The thesis is acceptable, provided specific minor revisions identified
by the committee are made. Under this outcome, the committee will
decide whether the entire committee or only the Thesis Advisor will approve
the final document.
- The thesis is unacceptable without major revisions, therefore requiring
a new defense within a specified deadline.