Project vs. Thesis

Phase II concludes your master’s degree with one of two capstone experiences: (1) a comprehensive project as part of BUED 796, MAT Project, or (2) a research thesis as part of BUED 797, MAT Thesis. Work closely with your advisor and/or department chair to determine which option best meets your career goals.

 BUED 796, MAT Project
The MAT project is one of the two capstone experience options. The project (instead of a thesis) draws on all your coursework throughout your MAT degree. You may be able to repurposes several of your former assignments for this comprehensive portfolio, but many of the required elements will be new to you. The MAT Project portfolio includes several pieces that are broken into four modules, which are paced at about one module a month in BUED 796. It's important to get feedback from your BUED 796 instructor along the way to make sure that you're on the right track. By creating, writing, and submitting this complete portfolio, you will demonstrate that you know and understand your students, have the ability to plan and to conduct a lesson, to encourage student learning, to assess students, and to participate in professional and school-based extracurricular activities. You will gain an understanding of how you perform as a teacher. You must submit your portfolio at least three weeks before the end of the semester in which you plan to graduate and that you register for the MAT Project Class (BUED 796) during the semester that you submit it.

 BUED 797, MAT Thesis

If you choose to the research thesis option instead of the project, plan on at least one academic year (two semesters) to complete your thesis and request a copy of the most recent Thesis Process and Procedures guidelines from your advisor and/or department chair. Review the deadlines provided at the link below as well as the following summary…

  • Pick a Topic. If you did a proposal for your research class, you might be able to use that as a starting point. However, if you have a different area you want to research, you can pick any topic, as long as it relates somehow to business education. If you're not sure where to start, read some of the articles published in the Delta Pi Epsilon Journal or the NABTE Review. They are the two leading journals that publish research about business education.
  • Find a Thesis Chair. One of the forms in the appendix of the attached guide starts the process of establishing your thesis committee. The person you will work most closely with is your thesis chair. This person has to be one of the faculty in our department (e.g., Drs. McEwen, King, Cannoy, Gaytan, etc.). Pick someone you think you'll work well with; you'll spend a LOT of time communicating with this person over the next nine months.
  • Submit the Thesis Committee Request. The other two members of your committee can be any A&T faculty members with doctoral degrees. Pick people that can help you with your research. For example, if you're doing heavy statistical analyses, get a stats person on your committee. Or if you're doing a more qualitative study, get someone who's good with qualitative data. You need everyone's signature on the committee form.
  • Schedule a Thesis Proposal Defense. After your committee paperwork is completed and processed (takes about a week), you need to prepare a thesis proposal for the committee's review. The proposal should include chapters 1, 2, and 3 of your thesis; the length is typically 25-50 pages depending on the extent of your review of literature (chapter 2). You cannot begin the IRB (Institutional Review Board) process or collect any data until the committee meets to approve your proposal, and they need at least a week or so to review your proposal before they meet to discuss it. If you're starting the proposal from scratch, it can take a few months to complete. Work closely with your thesis chair as you draft your proposal, sharing drafts every week or so to make sure you're on the right track. I once had someone spend two months working on his proposal and didn't want to share drafts until he thought he was done. Unfortunately, he was way off base and had to nearly start over. That was a lot of wasted time.
  • Submit Institutional Review Board (IRB) Application. One the proposal is approved, then you submit your IRB request to the university. That takes roughly two to four weeks. Only after they approve your request can you begin collecting your data.
  • Collect Data. Depending on your methodology, this can take a while, too (usually four to six weeks). Then you need time to entry your data, run your statistical analysis, and write up chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 4 (the findings of the study) takes just a couple of weeks to get right, but chapter 5 (conclusions and recommendations) can take much longer. This is the hardest chapter for most people to write because you -- as the expert of the research -- have to come up with implications and recommendations based on our findings.
  • Defend Your Thesis. When you and your thesis chair agree that you're finally all done with all five chapters, your thesis committee needs at least two weeks to review your complete manuscript (including all references and appendices) before you can defend. During your defense (a formal presentation of your research in front of the committee and invited guests), subtle changes and corrections will be noted, so you'll need a few days after your defense to work on those and still get your final draft to the Graduate School by the deadlines stated in the academic calendar.


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For more information, contact the Department of Business of Education
324 Merrick Hall, (336) 334-7657,