Non-Thesis Project

In the non-thesis project, you’ll write a 20-page research paper and take a comprehensive oral exam.

Choose a topic that sparks your interests and highlights your knowledge.

Deadlines for non-thesis project

For the research paper: Two weeks before your comprehensive oral examination date.

For the comprehensive oral exam deadline: See the MSU Graduate College Calendar for the semester of completion of your non-thesis project. 

Non-thesis resources: declaration form and guidelines

Fill out and submit the thesis/non-thesis declaration form after your second semester in the program (or once you’ve completed 18 credit hours).

For specific guidelines and requirements about your thesis, read the non-thesis project and process guide.

You will need Microsoft Word and Adobe Reader to view and print these documents.

Submit the declaration form to your academic advisor.

Thesis/non-thesis consultant

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Evaluating your non-thesis project

You’re reviewed and graded on:

  • Your defense of your non-thesis research project.
  • Your in-depth knowledge of theoretic and practical materials presented to you during your time in the DSS program.
  • Your ability to analyze evolving defense and security issues around the world and in the United States.

Advice and things to know

  • A non-thesis project isn’t less demanding or less time-consuming than writing a thesis. You’ll need to display your knowledge of broad security and defense issues, as well as verbal and analytic skills.
  • You’re responsible for recruiting your examination board.
  • One member of your exam board provides guidance during your non-thesis research project.
  • Base your research project on the requirements of a Directed Reading or another course taught by that member of your board.
  • During your oral exam, your exam board will ask you questions about your main areas of study while in the DSS program. Review sample questions.
  • The oral exam takes two-to-three hours. Your board will give you a review and grade afterwards.
  • If you fail the oral exam, you can take a second oral exam the following semester.
  • You must register for an additional course. Suggested courses are DSS 796 or DSS 794.
  • If you select the non-thesis project, you cannot take DSS 799 to meet your credit requirements.
  • Your oral exam is graded on a "pass" or "non-pass" scale.
  • DSS grades include "pass", "non-pass" and "pass with distinction". Passing with distinction requires a unanimous opinion of all members of your exam board.