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Department of Psychological Sciences
MS Thesis Guidelines

Procedures and Deadlines Relating to the MS Thesis

    1. Submit a MS Plan of Study Worksheet and establish an MS Thesis advisory committee no later than the end of your third semester in the program. The MS advisory committee consists of at least three faculty members. The committee chair must be a member of the Graduate Faculty and a member (not adjunct) of the Department of Psychological Sciences faculty. All advisory committee appointments are subject to approval of the Department Chair and the Dean of the Graduate School (GS) through Plan of Study approval. Directions for preparing and submitting the Plan of Study are at Changes in committee membership and committee chairs are approved through the "Revision of Existing Plan of Study" process (contact Thane Bryant).
    2. Hold a thesis proposal meeting with your committee and have your proposal approved by the end of your fourth semester of graduate study. This approval must be documented on a departmental Proposal Defense Form signed by your entire committee at the conclusion of the successful proposal meeting. Return the signed form to Thane Bryant after the meeting. I-O students should also provide a I-O Oral and Written Rubric to each committee member prior to the proposal meeting. These should be completed at the conclusion of the meeting and returned to the I-O Program Director. 
    3. Apply for IRB Protocol Approval for thesis research (no more than one semester after proposal meeting).
    4. Graduation Check - submit your Application to Graduate with the MS. To do this, go to and click on “Graduation Application and Approval Process” and follow directions. Do this no later than the last day of the semester BEFORE the semester you intend to graduate, BEFORE you submit your thesis draft to the Graduate School for the format check (step 8 below), and BEFORE you defend your thesis (step 9 below). If you do not graduate during the semester for which you ordered a graduation check, the graduation check will carry over from one term to the next. If you are requesting the graduation check earlier than one semester prior to the semester in which you intend to graduate, that is fine, but make sure to indicate the future semester in which you likely will graduate. For example, if in April 2021 you are applying for a graduation check and you intend to graduate in April 2022, make sure that when you apply for the graduation check you select Spring 2022 as the proposed semester of graduation. Once you have applied for the graduation check, when the semester that you indicated you would graduate begins, Graduate School staff will compare your transcript with your Plan of Study and will notify you of any discrepancies, which you will need to resolve promptly. If you do not graduate during the semester for which you ordered a graduation check, the Graduate School will "roll over" your graduation check for a couple of semesters. If you still have not graduated by then you should contact the Graduate School to find out if you need to submit a new request for graduation check.
    5. Conduct research, write thesis: Format must follow Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Guide
    6. You must be registered for at least one credit hour for the semester in which you defend your thesis. You also must be registered for at least one credit hour the semester in which you graduate. If you do not register by the first class day, you may not make it onto the graduation list. See MS Calendar for registration dates. The only exception to this is that students who (1) have completed all requirements for the degree, including approved Master's Thesis Final Exam Report and submitted final Electronic Thesis, and (2) have secured a certificate of completion from the Graduate School by the end of the semester preceding the semester in which they intend to graduate do not have to be registered during the semester in which they graduate. If you think this applies to you, contact your advisor in the Graduate School (334) 844-4700) during the semester before the semester in which you will graduate to make sure.
    7. At the beginning of the semester in which you intend to graduate with the MS, let Trixie Langley know your intent to graduate. This is for purposes of arranging for the assistantship pay raise associated with earning your MS degree.**
    8. Format Check: This step is optional. After making any changes recommended by your major professor and/or committee, submit the thesis draft to the Graduate School by e-mail (as a pdf) (email to for a format check. Call your advisor in the Graduate School (844-4700) regarding the best time to do this.
    9. Thesis Defense - all committee members must attend the defense in real time. Member who will not be physically present at the defense must attend by a means that enables them to participate in the meeting in real time (e.g., Zoom, Skype, teleconference, etc.). Schedule the defense meeting with committee members at least two weeks prior to defense. Don't forget to reserve the department's conference room or other suitable venue for the event if you plan to have an in-person defense.
    10. Documenting the Thesis Defense (AKA "Final Exam"): this is done via the “Request for Report of Master’s Thesis Final Exam" workflow process, which you access here. Prior to the day of your defense, log in and input the required information (your program, date, time and location of defense, Thesis title, and your Thesis Embargo preference). Prior to the defense you should also provide each of your committee members a Department of Psychological Sciences Thesis Assessment Form (or, for I-O students, the I-O Oral and Written Rubric). At the conclusion of your defense meeting, remind the committee members to complete these forms and deliver them to your Program Director for their annual assessments of the doctoral program.
    11. On the scheduled date of your defense, the workflow system will send a request to your Committee Chair to complete the Report on the Final Oral Exam. If the Chair indicates "Satisfactory", then the remaining committee members will be queried to report. Once all committee members have approved the Final Exam, the workflow system will query the committee regarding Final Approval of the Thesis. They should report their approval once all post-defense revisions and/or additional work that the committee required has been completed and they are satisfied with the Final Draft.  
    12. Submitting Final Draft to the Graduate School. Directions for uploading the final draft to the Graduate School are spelled out at If you have questions about the process, consult with your advisor at the Graduate School, (334) 844-4700. If you are trying to graduate during the semester of the defense, be aware that the Master's Thesis Final Exam and Thesis Final Approval must be reported by the deadline posted on the MS Calendar*  AND you must upload the final approved draft to the Graduate School by that deadline. If you are NOT trying to graduate during the semester that you defended, the deadline for full approval of the Master's Thesis Final Exam and Final Draft and uploading the final draft to the Graduate School is the last day of the semester in which you defended.*



*The deadlines in the MS Calendar are for students who intend to GRADUATE with the MS at the end of the semester. If you do not intend to GRADUATE that semester, but do intend to complete all degree degree requirements by the end of the semester (e.g., in order to get the assistantship pay raise to the "with Master's Degree" pay rate) you need to complete all the steps on the MS Calendar by the last day of the semester and follow the directions in the note below.**

** If you intend to defend your Master’s thesis, be aware that the university pays higher rates to GTAs and GRAs once they have completed the Master's degree. If you will actually be graduating with the MS degree at the end of a semester then let Trixie know that fact as soon as you are certain of it. She will process the paperwork for your raise accordingly. If you will defend but NOT graduate, then in order to get the raise prior to actually graduating you must do the following:

Shortly after you complete step #12 above, the Graduate School will send you a confirmation message with subject “AUETD: Submission Received Notification”. Forward that message to Thane Bryant as an attachment to an e-mail in which you tell him that you are seeking the raise. Within a day or so he will consult with the Graduate School to confirm that you have completed your degree requirements. If that is the case, he will advise Trixie that you are eligible for the raise. In order to get the raise for the following semester you must complete all of the actions detailed in this paragraph by the last day of the semester in which you defend the thesis. If you are going to pursue this, let Trixie know your plans as soon as possible.