Master of Science programs at SDSM&T may offer three options by which a student may complete the requirements for a degree. They are the thesis option, the non-thesis option, and the coursework-only option. Professional degrees are contained within the coursework-only option.
In the following descriptions the term “program” refers to a department, a division in a department such as the Construction Management program within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, or a non-departmental unit such as Biomedical Engineering, Materials Engineering and Science, or Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.
Note that additional information regarding limitations on coursework that may be applied toward the degree can be found in other sections of the catalog.
Thesis Option Requirements
The M.S. degree minimum requirements for the thesis option are:
- a program of at least 30 credit hours of coursework and research,
- at least 15 credit hours of graduate coursework approved by the program (500- level courses and above),
- at least 6 credit hours of thesis research and no more than 9 credit hours of thesis research, (However, the student may register for additional research credits for continuing registration purposes.)
- a satisfactory thesis based upon individual research, (See below.)
- meeting or exceeding academic standards prescribed elsewhere in this catalog, including maintaining at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA,
- successfully defending the thesis.
The thesis should represent an effort of such quality and construction that it can be displayed in the school library with similar scholarly works, as well as providing material for publication(s) in an appropriate professional journal(s).
The thesis is written under the direction of the major professor, but the student should feel free to seek guidance from all members of his/her advisory committee. Before starting to write the thesis, the student is urged to consult “Instructions for the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations” on the graduate education website (http://resources.sdsmt.edu/forms/grad-ed/thesis- and-dissertation-instructions.pdf) and to consult style manuals online or in the SDSM&T Devereaux Library. In general, the thesis may follow the style of captions, footnotes, and bibliographical references used by the leading technical journal in the student’s field. Students are urged to review carefully copyright ownership provisions in the “Instructions” document.
A final draft of the thesis should be submitted by the student to each member of his/her advisory committee a minimum of 2 full weeks before the time and date of the student’s scheduled defense. Earlier submission deadlines may be required by the advisory committee.
The Dean requires that the final draft of the thesis be submitted to the graduate office by the published deadline, approximately two weeks before graduation, to allow adequate time for review, corrections and revisions. The final draft of the thesis, after all revisions recommended by the committee have been made, must be signed by the author and approved and signed by the major professor, the head/coordinator of the student’s major department/program, and the Dean of Graduate Education before final reproduction. Signatures of other committee members are allowed but not required.
The institution requires one electronic copy and two paper copies (the original unbound manuscript and one bound copy) of the thesis to be delivered to the Devereaux Library in final form. Additional copies may be required by the student’s program or department. In the case of a proprietary thesis, the original hard copy and digital version will be retained without reproduction in secured graduate office files throughout the specified proprietary period.
A student pursuing the thesis option must defend the thesis in an oral examination. The thesis defense will normally be held during the last six weeks of the student’s last term, but it may be given at any time after the thesis has received committee approval. No thesis defense may be scheduled during the period of university final examinations. The Final Examination and thesis research defense may be combined. (See “Final Examination”.)
The student shall obtain and complete the relevant graduate office form to schedule the final examination and/or thesis defense and, in conjunction with the major professor, shall seek the approval of all committee members and shall file the form with the graduate office no less than 5 working days before the exam. The graduate office will announce this information to the campus community.
The thesis defense oral examination will normally be held during the last 6 weeks of the student’s last term, but it may be given at any time after the thesis has received committee approval. However, as noted above no final examination or thesis defense may be scheduled during the period of university final examinations.
The student’s committee constitutes the examining board for the thesis defense. The major professor will head the session. The major professor is responsible for ensuring that a majority of the committee, as well as the Graduate Representative, is present. The defense will not be held if these conditions cannot be met. A negative vote by any two or more members of the student’s committee or a negative vote by the graduate office representative will signify failure of the defense. Refer to the graduate office policies for information on committees and exam procedures for proprietary thesis programs.
Results of all written or oral examinations will be attested to by all committee members on a form furnished to the graduate representative by the graduate office. The original form with signatures and dates will be filed with the graduate office and a copy with the department/program. If the student passes with reservation or pending correction, a copy of the form will be filed with both offices. The originals will be filed with both offices, with the appropriate affirming signatures, when final corrections have been made and accepted. If the candidate fails to satisfy the examiners on either coursework or thesis, written or oral examinations, the committee may schedule a re-examination over general background, thesis, or both. The re-examination will be scheduled at the discretion of the candidate’s advisory committee, normally 8 to 12 weeks after the date of the first examination. The student may petition his or her committee for re-examination prior to the 8-week limit.
Non-thesis Option Requirements
Students enrolled in a non-thesis program may have the option of completing a non-thesis research project or taking additional course credits in place of the research project credits. The latter option is often referred to as a “coursework only” option and is common in professional degree programs. Students electing a non-thesis program should check with their program or department to determine which non-thesis options are available to them.
The M.S. degree minimum requirements for the non-thesis option are:
- a program of at least 32 credit hours of coursework (refer to specific program requirements for exact number of minimum coursework credit hours),
- at least 20 credit hours of graduate coursework approved by the program (500 level and above),
- at most 6 credits of non-thesis research project,
- meeting or exceeding academic standards prescribed elsewhere in this catalog, including maintaining at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
A Master of Science degree candidate may be required by his or her program to take a final examination covering course material as a requirement for the degree. The examination may be written, oral, or both. All committee members must be given the opportunity for input to, and evaluation of, a written non-thesis final examination.
A student pursuing the thesis option must also defend the thesis in an oral examination. The final examination and thesis defense may be combined.
Oral examinations, including a thesis defense, are open to all interested faculty members. Departmental or program policy shall determine whether non-faculty persons may attend the examination.
The process for scheduling a Final Examination and the policies governing the examination process are described in the “Thesis Defense” section.