Qualitative Master’s Thesis

This section provides guidelines for conducting the research and writing a qualitative or creative master’s thesis including a suggested timeframe for completing a master’s degree in two years, proposal writing, the structure of a typical thesis, and Institutional Review Board considerations.

Suggested timeline for qualitative master’s degree in two Years

 1. First Year

 A. First Semester in Residency

  1. Student should meet with a professor in the area of subject interest
  2. Student should begin to consider or confer with his/her advisor regarding the composition of his/her thesis committee

B. Second Semester

  1. Student should conduct preliminary research to formulate a topic
  2. Form advisory committee: major professor, two faculty from department, and one faculty member from outside the department
  3. Note: some departments may require that specific documentation be filed with the department (for example, a program of study)
  4. First committee meeting
  • Indicate general area of research
  • Provide description of proposed research objectives
  • Prepare Program of Study document to be signed by major professor, full committee, chair of department graduate committee, and placed on file with the department
  • If research involves human subjects, obtain suitable approval.

C. First Summer

  • Research material
  • Work with advisor

 2. Second Year

  1. First Semester

  1. Apply for candidacy after successful completion of half of the required hours and before enrollment for the next semester
  2. Continue working with advisor and committee
  3. Committee meetings are recommended as needed or required by advisor/committee
  • Inform committee of progress and modifications to program
  • If the Program of Study needs to be changed, a Change in Program form (found at same link above) should be submitted to the student’s advisor and routed for appropriate signatures. Once complete, the form should be filed with the Office of Graduate Studies and Research

 2. Second Semester (preferably in the first month of classes)

  1. Committee meeting during which formal research proposal filed in student folder after signature by all members containing the following elements
  • Review of pertinent literature
  • Statement of research question outlining what is needed and what work will contribute
  • Research objectives
  • Procedures for each objective
  • Presentation of any data collected at this time (Note: some departments may require a formal presentation, and some may require different elements)

 2. Thesis Defense timeline

  • Copies of the completed thesis should be given to the Committee at least two weeks before the oral exam (defense) date
  • Public presentation of the thesis (if required) and thesis defense should be completed one month before graduation day of any semester
  • The student may pass without reservations, pass with reservations, or fail. If revisions are necessary they must be completed and approved by all members of the Committee at least two week before graduation day. Students are urged to keep this scheduling issue in mind if there is the possibility of a “pass with reservations” decision by the Committee.
  • Submit to the Office of Graduate Studies and Research the first 10 pages of the thesis including the preliminary pages three weeks prior to graduation for a format check.
  • All forms must be completed and all copies of the thesis given to the Office of Graduate Studies and Research two weeks before graduation day. . A check to cover the costs of binding made out to the binding company, Houchen Bindery, must be supplied at this time.


the content may vary by discipline, advisor, and/or your committee. The creative works that constitute the creative/qualitative thesis will most likely not fit into the traditional chapters of the qualitative thesis as outlined below. Indeed, the subjects allotted separate chapters may all be condensed in a prefatory statement or introduction that precedes the actual creative pieces that are included as the body of the thesis, i.e., the creative work itself. Within the thesis, the author should attempt to avoid presenting a simple miscellany, but rather work to organize the creative materials in accordance with some aesthetic principle. This may involve grouping and/or sequencing works, thus creating some thematic continuity or counterpoint, as well as a sense of a beginning, middle, and end.


Departments with graduate programs, The University of Nebraska at Kearney.

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