School of Social Sciences and International Studies

Thesis or Project

Applied Behavioral Science

As the culminating experience in the Applied Behavioral Science (ABS) Criminal Justice and Social Problems track, you may write either a traditional thesis or a project.


A traditional thesis is a formally presented research work in the form of an approximately 80-to-100 page master's thesis.  The outline of the thesis in the form of a prospectus must meet prior approval by a three-person thesis committee and the program director before the student can register for thesis hours. The student must register in total for six hours of thesis credit. These six hours need not all be taken in the same semester. The thesis must conform to the guidelines issued by the Graduate School of the university. A handbook explaining these guidelines may be requested from the Graduate School. A thesis is only considered completed after a successful oral defense, approval from your thesis committee and the program director, and acceptance by the Graduate School.

Thesis Prospectus Cover Sheet (PDF)


The project is an applied research work. You must register for a total of six credit hours of project work. The project topic must be approved in advance by the project director and the program director. Approval will be based on a project proposal. Although the project format is different from a traditional thesis, the project is designed to be a rigorous academic achievement that draws on the knowledge and skills you have obtained in the seminars, workshops, and other required and elective program activities.

The following guidelines should guide you in the development and execution of your project. Although exceptions can be made to these guidelines, the burden is on you to delineate, justify, and propose any alternatives. Minor exceptions will be reviewed by the program director; major exceptions must take the form of a petition submitted to the program committee.

Project Guidelines

  1. The project or thesis may be based on quantitative or qualitative data of a quality generally acceptable in the social sciences.
  2. The form a project or thesis may take is a decision made between the student and their advisor that is then reviewed for approval by the program director.
  3. All projects and theses need written, prior approval from the director and project adviser on the Project Proposal Cover Sheet or the Thesis Prospectus Cover Sheet which are available on the ABS website under Resources.
  4. A copy of the approved proposal or prospectus will be on file with the ABS director before enrollment for project or thesis enrollment is requested.
  5. Regular contact with your project director or thesis committee is expected. What regular contact means is between you and your director or chair, but generally, contact at the beginning and end of the semester is the minimum expectation.
  6. The project or thesis must present the applied/practical use of its conclusions and indicate implications for further research.
  7. Your project or thesis when completed will resemble a social science journal article. Work with your director about the specific headings and subheadings needed for your project or thesis. The ABS Project Proposal Cover Sheet provides a typical outline.
  8. Citations, notes, and references must be in a style generally acceptable in the social sciences (typically APA style).
  9. All graphs, charts, diagrams, and other illustrative devices must be presented and labeled in a manner generally used in the social sciences.
  10. All work (excepting assistance from a statistical consultant) must be the original work of the degree candidate.
  11. All necessary approvals from any university committee and/or any outside agencies are the candidate’s responsibility.
  12. Copyright holder approval for any material that does not fall into the category of ‘fair use’ is the candidate’s responsibility.
  13. All projects must be revised until they receive final approval from the project adviser and acceptance by the program director. The project or thesis director is the final authority on whether or not a project or thesis is complete. Once completed it is then forwarded for acceptance to the program director.
  14. An electronic copy of the final approved project or thesis must be submitted to the program director by the project advisor or thesis chair. Copies of projects or theses sent directly from the student to the director will not be accepted. Final copies of theses are uploaded per the Graduate School instructions.
  15. Project or thesis research must take place after the student is enrolled in the program.
  16. Although the project or thesis may build on information and experience gained in professional employment, it is not to be work that forms part of the student’s regular employment activities.
  17. The project or thesis may be either new work or expansion of previous course work, but in the latter case must extend beyond the course work in terms of scope, depth, and sophistication.
  18. These guidelines will cover all projects and theses.
  19. These guidelines may only be revised by the ABS program committee.

Note: A degree is granted only after all requirements are completed (including all coursework and the project or thesis) and no grades of "I" or "M" appear on your grade transcript (see the Graduate School catalog for an explanation of letter grades). It is your responsibility to be aware of deadlines for filing for graduation and for meeting those deadlines. Those deadlines can be found on the Graduate School website each semester.

Project Proposal Cover Sheet (PDF)


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