Each academic unit requiring a master’s thesis shall clearly describe its policies to the students, their advisors, committee chairs, committee members, and the Office of Graduate Studies in formal written statements. 

In addition, each academic unit and its respective college or school, through the student’s major advisor or chairperson and committee members, shall be responsible for the content and quality of the student’s work and final project. Approval of the substance of the thesis shall rest solely with the advisor or chairperson and committee members. 

The Office of Graduate Studies shall be responsible for approving proper format and style of the final product. The academic unit shares preliminary responsibility for document preparation by the student through its published guidelines and through faculty advising. 

Thesis Credit and Continuous Enrollment 

A master’s thesis is traditionally six (6) credits—the course numbers are 63TP (Thesis Proposal) and 63TR (Thesis Research)—and must be completed within two (2) years after completion of course work and within seven (7) years of matriculation into the program. Following a student’s first enrollment in thesis credits the student is required to enroll in each semester or session continuously until all thesis requirements are completed satisfactorily and approved by the appropriate bodies. Continuous enrollment is defined as enrollment in all fall and spring semesters from the initial enrollment to the semester in which the student graduates. If the student plans to graduate in the summer, the student must be enrolled in that session. A student unable to complete the thesis within the first six (6) hours of registration will be required to continue to enroll per the continuous enrollment policy; however, only six (6) thesis credit hours will count toward meeting the program requirements for the degree. 

Access to Library Services. For students not enrolled in summer sessions, pre-enrollment in the subsequent fall semester is necessary for access to library resources during summer sessions.

Thesis Committee

A master’s thesis committee shall be appointed for each student undertaking a thesis as partial fulfillment of the requirements for a master’s degree. The purpose of the thesis committee is twofold: (a) to provide the range of expertise necessary to advise a student in the conduct of the master’s thesis and (b) to ensure that evaluation of the thesis represents a consensus of professionals in the student’s chosen discipline. See Appendix 20 of the Faculty Handbook for the description of the Graduate Faculty Appointment Procedure.

The master’s thesis committee is charged with supervising and evaluating the master’s thesis, a task that includes, but is not limited to, the following responsibilities: (a) advise the student on selecting and/or developing a master’s thesis topic; (b) review and approve a proposal for the master’s thesis; (c) provide consultation regarding progress on the thesis; (d) evaluate the final document; and (e) in those academic units requiring a public defense, evaluate the public defense of the thesis. 

In addition to the previously described responsibilities that are generic to all thesis committee members, the chairperson of the committee assumes the following additional responsibilities: (a) in those academic units where this responsibility is not discharged through other processes, advise the student regarding selection of thesis committee members; (b) routinely monitor student progress on the thesis; (c) call thesis committee meetings; (d) evaluate the readiness of the thesis proposal and of the thesis for committee review and action; and (e) inform the student of the need to adhere to the University of the Incarnate Word policies, procedures, and document formatting instructions. 

Each thesis committee shall consist of a minimum of two (2) members or associate members of the Graduate Faculty of the University of the Incarnate Word; the committee chairperson must be a full member of the Graduate Faculty. At least one (1) of the committee members must be from the academic unit or academic program in which the student is pursuing the master’s degree. The appointment of a master’s thesis committee is a three-stage process requiring, first, a mutual agreement between the master’s student and the prospective committee members; second, a formal appointment by the academic dean; and third, notification of and approval by the Director of Graduate Studies of this appointment.  

Each academic unit offering a master’s degree in which the thesis is either required or optional may approve and disseminate additional guidelines concerning master’s thesis committees, including the qualifications for committee membership, the procedures used to select and appoint committee members, and the specific functions and responsibilities of these committee members. Additionally, each unit is encouraged to disseminate an updated list of faculty who qualify to serve on master’s thesis committees and their respective areas of expertise. 

Scheduling and Publicizing the Thesis Defense 

The master’s candidate and the candidate’s advisor are responsible for scheduling the public defense with all members of the thesis committee, notifying the academic unit office, and reserving the room, and notifying the Office of Graduate Studies. A block of two hours should be reserved, and defenses scheduled in the same academic unit should not conflict in time.

The candidate shall prepare a structured abstract and complete the form required to schedule the public defense. The abstract and the form must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies at least 10 working days (two weeks) prior to the public defense.

Resolution of Differences Within Committee Over Thesis Approval 

In cases where committee members differ on the approval of a thesis document and/or its public defense, it shall be the responsibility of the committee to undertake every reasonable effort to resolve these differences and come to a unanimous decision. 

In case a student wishes to appeal a negative decision by the thesis committee, the student shall first take the appeal to this same committee, which shall hear the appeal and render a decision. 

In cases of a negative, but non-unanimous, committee decision, and the student wishes to appeal, a review committee shall be established consisting of the Director of Graduate Studies, the appropriate academic dean, and the chairperson or director of the academic unit. The review committee shall seek to resolve the controversy without rendering a decision on the thesis. The review committee’s handling of such a case is limited to procedural actions, such as reconstituting the committee if the case merits it.

University Requirements After Defense

Document Preparation for Format Review. Students may not offer a thesis to the Office of Graduate Studies for review until it has been approved by the committee or supervisor, as indicated by signatures of all committee members or supervisor on the official approval forms.

Deadlines for Format Review. All theses must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies for format review by the established deadline for the student’s desired graduation date:

  • October 1 for anticipated December degree conferral.
  • March 1 for anticipated May degree conferral.
  • July 1 for anticipated August degree conferral.

Students should expect format review to take no less than three weeks.

Failure to meet these deadlines may result in delayed degree conferral.

Enrollment in GRAD 6010. Students who have completed all program requirements and a successful public defense but have not completed document formatting requirements and/or other thesis clearance requirements must enroll in GRAD 6010 (a zero-credit course) during the graduating semester. Enrollment in this course during completion of the format review process allows continued access to university resources and satisfies the continuous enrollment requirement.

Thesis Clearance. A clearance form is required for theses. Clearance requirements include:

  • Thesis approved for formatting and publication.
  • Approved thesis submitted to The Athenaeum.
  • Closure of IRB protocols.

Completed clearance forms confirming the completion of all program and university requirements are submitted by the Office of Graduate Studies and must be received by the Registrar’s Office by these dates:

  • November 1 for anticipated December degree conferral.
  • April 1 for anticipated May degree conferral.
  • August 1 for anticipated August degree conferral.

Failure to meet these deadlines may result in delayed degree conferral.

Deposit of Student Work. Theses submitted to the university are deposited in The Athenaeum, the University of the Incarnate Word institutional repository of scholarly work, maintained by the Mabee Library. The submission of the thesis to the university in partial fulfillment of degree requirements grants the university the one-time, non-exclusive right to publish the thesis in The Athenaeum.

University and student rights regarding thesis submission and publication are outlined below.

University Rights. The University of the Incarnate Word retains non-exclusive distribution, reproduction, and archival rights to theses submitted to the Faculty of the University of the Incarnate Word in partial fulfillment of requirements for a post-baccalaureate degree. Such rights entitle the University of the Incarnate Word to reproduce, archive, and distribute theses, in whole or in part, in and from an electronic format, as it sees fit. Distribution is subject to a release date stipulated by the student and approved by the university. 

Student Rights and Responsibilities. As the owner of the thesis copyright, students have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, make derivative works based on, publicly perform and display their work, and to authorize others to exercise some or all of those rights. As a condition of graduation, each student’s thesis must be published electronically. As part of the publishing process, students have several options regarding when others may access their document. These options include:

No embargo—Immediate availability. After degree conferral, the full text of the thesis will be immediately and freely available and searchable online via The Athenaeum.

Embargo—Restrict online publication for a designated period.  Embargoes may be selected for 6 months, 1 year, or 2 years. Students may place an embargo on electronic access to their full thesis through The Athenaeum if there is legitimate reason to do so. Patents or future publication, for example, might be jeopardized by providing unrestricted access. Should a student elect to restrict online publication of their work, the document metadata—including names of student and advisors, and thesis title and abstract—will be available via The Athenaeum; however, the full document will be unavailable for viewing or download until the selected embargo period has ended.

Indefinite embargo—Restrict online publication indefinitely. Students may place an indefinite embargo on access to their full document. In this case, the document metadata—including names of student and advisors, and thesis title and abstract—will be available via The Athenaeum, but the full document will be unavailable indefinitely. Indefinite embargoes require the written approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. The indefinite embargo restriction can be lifted at the request of the author at a later date.

Related Links

Graduation Policies

Research Policies

Programs with thesis:

Communication Arts ABM Program

Communication Arts


Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences