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MALS 79000:   Thesis Research (3 credits)

You should start planning your thesis halfway through the Liberal Studies Program (when you have close to 18 credits).  Ideally, it should focus the interests you have explored in your course work.  In the past, students have successfully developed a paper written for a course—or a couple of papers—into a thesis.

The thesis should be 50-60 pages long—in other words, as long as two or three term papers.  It is sometimes useful to think in terms of two or three chapters.

You should register for thesis credit only when you have completed the course work for the degree, or at least 24 credits.  Some students register for one course and the thesis in the final semester, and some register for the thesis only.

Who is Eligible to Advise:

Thesis Advisors must be members of the Graduate Center faculty. They do not need to be faculty members within the MALS Program.

MALS 79000, Thesis Research (3 credits):
For students who are registering for their theses, they need to email Kathy Koutsis ( directly (and forward correspondence showing that they have a faculty member who has agreed to advise) to get a course override. Thesis advisement is a 3-credit course and is different from the Thesis workshop class which is 1-credit.

Thesis Resources:
The Thesis Workshop (MALS 79600) is an optional one-credit class that has proven helpful for thesis writers.
The library provides instruction in the use of two citation managers, RefWorks and Zotero.  Zotero, an open-source tool, is still accessible after students leave the Graduate Center, which is a significant advantage. Though MALS does not require a specific citation style, theses should be consistent in the usage of whatever citation style is chosen.

Mina Rees library links:
Documentation styles:
Citation managers:
Approval Process:
Before submitting the thesis to the Executive Officer, students should consult and follow the following instructions for preparing and depositing theses:
MALS theses need to be approved by both the faculty advisor and the Executive Officer. We ask that students submit a print copy of the final thesis (on regular copier paper), along with the signed approval page (on 25% cotton paper) to the MALS Executive Officer at least 3 weeks before the library’s deposit deadline.

The library's Text Format Guidelines includes sample approval and title pages:

Once the Executive Officer has signed the approval page, students can print the final thesis on the required paper:
White bond paper, 8.5 inches x 11 inches, unlined, at least 20-pound weight and 25% rag or cotton content required for all deposit copies, including signed approval pages. No ink, marks, correction fluid, or hole punches.
Dissertations and Theses—Deposit Deadlines:
A thesis may be deposited anytime; deadlines below:

For Degree Enrollment Required Library Deposit Required By Submit Advisor-Approved Thesis to MALS Executive Officer By
February 1 Preceding Fall term Last day in January January 10
May Commencement Spring term May 1 April 10
October 1 Preceding Spring term September 15 August 25

Further Questions:
Further questions about the thesis or about this guide may be sent to APO Kathy Koutsis (, EO Matthew K. Gold (, or DEO Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis (

Notable recent theses successfully filed for the degree include the following:

  • "Redefining the United States Intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965" by Mariela Morel (2013)
  • "Al-Shabaab and Human Rights in Somalia" by Melissa Sirola (2013)
  • "The Banana Industry in Honduras" by Henry Gutierrez (2013)
  • "The Effects of Corruption on Democratization and Equity in Russia" by Dominique DiTommaso (2013)
  • "Theorizing Korean Identity: The Mobility of People, Food, and Capital" by Frank Dax (2013)
  • "Walt Whitman and the Art of Loafing" by Charles W. Rowe (2013)