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Thesis/Capstone Project

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. 


The Thesis

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 (see formatting and submission guidelines). The white paper must be submitted together with the capstone project so the department can review the project in its original medium (e.g. if it is a film provide a link or copy of the film; if it is a website or app, the URL must be included).


Thesis/Capstone Project Abstract

Download and complete an Abstract Form:

Abstracts are due by the end of the Add/Drop Period during the semester for which you register for Thesis/Capstone advisement. 
 


IRB Approval

If your research involves human subjects, please discuss your project with your advisor and with the CUNY Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) to determine whether your project requires IRB approval from the GC or your advisor’s home campus. For more information, please visit www.gc.cuny.edu/hrpp and consult the following guidelines:

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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 (kkoutsis@gc.cuny.edu), 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.


Approval Process

  • For the thesis:

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 hardcopy approval page with your adviser's ink signature. Also be sure to include a completed exit survey (see below).
 

  • For the Capstone Project

MALS capstone projects need to be approved by both the faculty adviser and the Executive Officer.
In order to submit the capstone project for review by the Executive Officer, please leave a print copy of the white paper and any supporting material 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 hardcopy approval page with your adviser's ink 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).


Exit Survey

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:

For Degree Enrollment Required Library Deposit Required By* Submit Adviser-Approved Final Project to MALS Executive Officer By
February 1 Preceding Fall Term End of January January 10
May Commencement Spring Term End of April April 10
October 1 Preceding Spring Term Mid September August 25

*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.
 

Maintenance of Matriculation

Students who have completed the 30 credits for the degree, but need an additional semester to complete the thesis, should register for “Maintenance of Matriculation” to maintain their enrollment for submission and Library deposit. 


Writing Resources

  • 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.

2016 / 2017 Winners

We are proud to announce the thesis and capstone winners of this year's prize, who will each receive $250:
 
Thesis Prize
Katherine McLeod for her thesis titled, “Beyond the Biological: William Beebe, the Bronx Zoo, and U.S. Biological Field Stations in British Guiana

Advisor: Dagmar Herzog
 
Capstone Prize
Terrence Hunt for his capstone project titled, “Secret and Divine Signs: A Cinematic Ode to the Art of Cruising

Advisor: David Gerstner
 

Marissa Kinsey for her capstone project titled, “Beyond the Vale: Visualizing Slavery in Craven County, North Carolina”

Advisor: Matthew Gold


Further Questions:
Further questions about the thesis or about this guide may be sent to APO Kathy Koutsis (kkoutsis@gc.cuny.edu), EO Matthew K. Gold (mgold@gc.cuny.edu), or DEO Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis (emacaulay_lewis@gc.cuny.edu)