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What is involved in writing a thesis?
One of two possible culminating experiences to your M.A. degree is a thesis. This involves finding an advisor, learning the relevant material as suggested by your advisor, writing a thesis and finding a thesis committee, and giving an oral presentation of your work.
Finding an advisor
The first step in completing your thesis is to find an advisor. This may be a professor with whom you’ve had a class, or, any other math professor who shares your mathematical interests. The best way to approach a professor about a possible thesis is to find them in their office hours to discuss their interest, or to write them an email about it. There are several reasons why they may not be interested in advising a thesis. For instance, perhaps they already have too many students, perhaps they are already too busy with other things, or perhaps they have personal reasons (such as an upcoming leave) that would prevent them from advising your thesis. If they say no, then ask if they have some other suggestions of other professors that have similar mathematical interests.
Research and Writing (Math 6972 and 6974)
To complete your thesis, you must take two courses:
- MATH 6972. Graduate Thesis I (MATH 6972 Proposal form)
- MATH 6974. Graduate Thesis II (MATH 6974 Proposal form)
After finding a professor to work with, it is typical to begin your research and take Math 6972. A proposal needs to be prepared by you and your new advisor and submitted to the MA Coordinator. This proposal must be submitted by the end of the second to last week of the preceding term. During this course, you will hone in on your thesis project and find two other professors to make up your three person committee. By the second to last week of the term, you must submit another proposal for Math 6974 which is more detailed. Your Math 6974 proposal must contain an accurate description of your thesis and should be prepared in consultation with your advisor. It should also contain appropriate references.
Math 6974 is the final course for your thesis, in that you are to complete your thesis and give an oral presentation of your work. Things to keep in mind as you complete these things:
Responsibility. You are responsible for all aspects of your thesis, although your advisor is the main person who can help you with these things. Use MR Lookup from the American Mathematical Society for bibliographical information.
LaTeX. Your thesis must be prepared in LaTeX. We recommend you use, TeXShop (mac), TeXWorks (pc), or Overleaf (cloud). A zip file containing all relevant files, including a template for completing your thesis in LaTeX (Download Template). A good introduction for beginners is The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX 2e. More links to LaTeX guides may be found at Latex Project.
Deadlines. Keep a careful eye on Consultation and Submission deadlines.
Presentation. You are to give an oral presentation lasting 45-50 minutes on your thesis. Your advisor can help you prepare for this presentation. Examples of thesis presentations can be found on our Student Talks page.