The MALS thesis/capstone project is the culmination of the MALS degree. You should start planning your thesis/capstone project halfway through the Liberal Studies Program (when you have close to 18 credits).
Who is Eligible to Advise?
Thesis and capstone project advisers must be members of the Graduate Center faculty. They do not need to be faculty members within the MALS Program.
Students should try to find advisers through their coursework but should understand that MALS/GC faculty may have other commitments that could prevent them from taking on an advisory role.
Ideally students will approach faculty members well before any relevant deadlines and with a clear idea of what the thesis/capstone project is about.
You can use this list of MALS faculty research areas as a resource in your search for an adviser.
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 coursework. 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 enroll in MALS 79000: Thesis/Capstone Project only when you have completed the course work for the degree, or at least 24 credits of coursework. Some students register for one course and Thesis Research in the final semester, and some register for Thesis Research only.
The Capstone Project
You should start planning your capstone project halfway through the Liberal Studies Program (when you have close to 18 credits).
The capstone project will enable students to integrate and synthesize the knowledge that they have developed during their MA coursework into a culminating project. Such works might include, but would not be limited to, an artistic or documentary video, archive finding aid, artistic performance (live or recorded), exhibition, journalistic report, or digital project or software tool, accompanied by a white paper explaining the project, its methodology, technologies used, process or other relevant information.
You should enroll in MALS 79000: Thesis/Capstone Project only when you have completed the coursework for the degree, or at least 24 credits of coursework. The capstone project should be completed in a single semester, if possible.
The capstone project is accompanied by a 20-page paper that details the conceptualization, methodology, and/or technology used in the project and how the project is related to the student’s track and studies.
Thesis/Capstone Project Abstract
Download and complete an Abstract Form, which faculty advisers must approve:
Abstracts are due by the end of the Add/Drop Period during the semester for which you register for Thesis/Capstone advisement. For the Spring 2016 semester the deadline has been extended to February 19th.
Registering for MALS 79000 (Thesis Research or Capstone Project), 3 credits
In order to register for MALS 79000 through Banner, students need to obtain written confirmation from the faculty who will serve as adviser and forward the confirmation in an email to Kathy Koutsis (email@example.com), who will then issue a course override.
MALS 79000 is a 3-credit course and is different from the Thesis Workshop class (MALS 79600), which is 1-credit.
MALS theses need to be approved by both the faculty adviser and the Executive Officer.
Students should consult and follow the Library's instructions for preparing and depositing theses. The Library's Text Format Guidelines also include sample MA Thesis approval and title pages.
In order to submit the thesis for review by the Executive Officer, please leave a print copy that is properly formatted with Kathy Koutsis in room 4106 (or in her mailbox in room 4109) at least 3 weeks before the library deposit deadline. Include the approval page with your adviser's signature. Also be sure to include a completed exit survey (see below).
MALS capstone projects need to be approved by both the faculty adviser and the Executive Officer.
In order to submit the thesis for review by the Executive Officer, please leave a print copy of the whitepaper and any supporting materialthat with Kathy Koutsis in room 4106 (or in her mailbox in room 4109) at least 3 weeks before the library deposit deadline, following the schedule below. Include the approval page with your adviser's signature. The Library's Text Format Guidelines include sample MA Thesis approval and title pages.
Once the Capstone Project is approved, follow the Library's guidelines for capstone deposition. Also be sure to include a completed exit survey (see below).
The student will graduate at the degree date following their submission (Fall, Winter or Spring).
All students are required to fill in a short exit survey and submit it to the department when they submit their thesis/capstone project to the Executive Officer.
The form can be downloaded here.
Submission and Deposit Deadlines
A thesis may be deposited anytime; deadlines below:
Library Deposit Required By*
Submit Adviser-Approved Final Project to MALS Executive Officer By
Preceding Fall term
End of January
End of April
Preceding Spring term
*Please note that these Library Deposit dates are approximate. For current Library Deposit Deadlines, visit the Library’s
Dissertations & Theses page.
For more information on depositing your thesis, see the Dissertations & Theses deposit guide, now featuring detailed instructions on How to Request Deposit Appointment and guidelines for capstone deposition.
Thesis Workshop. The Thesis Workshop class (MALS 79600) is an optional one-credit class that has proven helpful for thesis writers.
Citation Managers. 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.
Style Guides. Though MALS does not require a specific citation style, theses should be consistent in the usage of whatever citation style is chosen.
The MALS Thesis/Capstone Project Prize
The MALS Thesis/Capstone Project Prize is meant to recognize achievement in scholarship and writing by MALS students. The awards showcase the impressive work being done by students in our program.
We are proud to announce the joint winners of this year's prize, who will each receive $250:
Barbara Gray for her thesis entitled, “Queen of the Underworld: The Biography of Sophie Lyons (1848 -1924)”
Advisor: Shifra Sharlin
Jeeva Jacobs for her thesis entitled, “Climate Smart Agriculture: Farmer’s Bane or Boon?”
Advisor: Sophia Perdikaris
• "Rendering the Unthinkable: (Un)knowable Animality, Compulsory Recovery, and Heterosexualized Trauma in The Hunger Games" by Jennifer Polish (2014)
Notable recent theses successfully filed for the degree include the following:
• "Ethnic Language Maintenance: A Case Study of Second-Generation Iranian Americans in the Northeastern States" by Maryam Moeini Meybodi (2014)
• "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)
Further questions about the thesis or about this guide may be sent to APO Kathy Koutsis (firstname.lastname@example.org), EO Matthew K. Gold (email@example.com), or DEO Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis (firstname.lastname@example.org)