Thesis Completion Timeline

It is imperative that you become familiar with not only the process of completing an approved prospectus, but also the time it typically takes to complete it and the thesis. This process is often long and tedious, and almost always takes longer than one would at first think. Below are some general curriculum notes and facts, along with estimated timelines. Keep in mind these times are estimates and completion times will vary.

After you complete 12 credits: Once you complete 12 graduate credits, you MUST complete a Plan of Study form and submit it to the CJ department.

After you complete 24 credits: After you have completed 24 graduate credits you should have a rough idea of a research topic you would like to explore for your thesis.

One semester to one year prior to graduation: The conceptualization of your research question/idea usually takes one semester to one full academic year.

  • Establish a research question/idea (allow 3-4 weeks for processing).
  • Once you have your idea, speak with the graduate faculty member you would like to ”unofficially” direct your thesis committee to ensure he/she is willing to mentor you through your research.
  • After securing an "unofficial” director, schedule an appointment with him/her to discuss your research question/idea. Then discuss with your director your choices for the other two members of your thesis committee. Two of the three committee members have to be from the CJ department; the third member can be from outside the CJ department. All members must have graduate faculty status

 Setting up your Graduate Thesis Committee (allow 1-3 weeks):

  • Speak with the other two potential members of your thesis committee about your research question/idea to ensure they are willing to serve.
  • Keep in mind that your newly formed committee is not ”official” – it will only become official when your prospectus is completed and submitted for approval using the Thesis Compensation Application form.

Conducting your research/refining your idea (allow 3 months to a year): As you move forward, begin refining your research question, conducting an extensive literature review and conceptualize an idea of the methodology. You will use the Thesis Prospectus Format.

Preparing your Prospectus (allow 1-3 months; longer if a survey is used):

  • One of the final courses you will take is CJ 507 – Research Utilization in Criminal Justice. This course is usually offered in the fall semester and includes topics on the scientific method and general research design. It is intended for you to become familiar with the basic tools needed to complete a first draft of your prospectus.
  • Before you take this course, you should have the general skeleton of your prospectus.
  • Creating the skeleton of your prospectus can take one month to one semester.
  • The prospectus you complete for CJ 507 is only a draft – your full official committee must approve the final prospectus.
  • Once you have your draft prospectus, e-mail the document to your thesis director and have him/her review it. He/she will most likely send it back to you with corrections to make.
    • NOTE: It is important that you retain copies of all of your correspondence, drafts and subsequent revisions until the prospectus is completed and approved.
  • Keep in mind that having your director review your first prospectus draft and you submitting revisions can take one to two months; longer if you are administering a survey or conducting interviews.
  • Your director may want to approve your questions for your survey.
  • After your director “unofficially” approves your prospectus, he/she will circulate the document to the other members of your committee for their review.
  • Again, you will most likely be required to make revisions requested by the committee several times before your full committee approves it.
  • Allowing for your other two committee members to review the draft prospectus can take two weeks to two months.

Completing the Thesis Compensation Application Form (allow 1-2 weeks):

  • Once your prospectus is approved by the full committee, you need to submit it along with the Thesis Compensation Application form and send it to your committee director. He/she will circulate it to the other members of the committee for approval.
  • Once this document is signed, your committee in now official!

Registering for the Thesis Credit – CJ 599 (allow 1-3 weeks): Fill out the Thesis Registration form, and then, and only then, can you sign up for thesis credit (CJ 599).

Completing your Human Subjects Form (allow up to one month for approval): If you are administering a survey or conducting interviews,  you need to apply and submit your questions to the Human Subjects Committee and obtain approval before you can proceed with your research.

Conducting your research Using Human Subjects Committee guidelines (allow 1 week to 2 months):

  • 1-2 weeks: printing and compiling surveys to send (2-6 months if waiting for respondents to send the surveys back)
  • 1-2 months: re-mailings (if needed)
  • 2 weeks-1 month: analyzing the data (2 weeks to 1 month if your methodology has been settled upon)
  • 3 weeks-1 month: writing the actual thesis (if you have your literature review completed)

Two Months Prior to Graduation: Once you finish writing and formatting your thesis, you must submit it to your committee at least two months prior to graduation.

6-8 Weeks Prior to Graduation: While you are completing the writing of your thesis, check with your director to ensure you can schedule an in-person defense – settle on a date for the defense.

  • Ensure the defense date is at least six weeks before the end of the semester.
  • Attend the defense. This takes about an hour.
  • After the defense, make any and all necessary revisions recommended by your committee. This can take you up to two weeks.

Have your committee sign the thesis approval form (the form must be printed on Bond paper.) Make sure you follow the Graduate Studies guidelines on how to do this.

30 Days Prior to Graduation:

  • Submit your final thesis to the Graduate Studies Office.
  • Make any and all necessary formatting revisions recommended by the Graduate Studies Office.
  • This can also take up to two weeks.

Congratulations! You now have your Master’s degree in Criminal Justice!