Research Proposal and Proposal Defense

Below are general department guidelines for the proposal and defense. Please refer to program-specific guidelines at the end of this section for additional information.

It is in students’ best interests to prepare and defend a research proposal by the end of their second semester. This proposal will help guide students’ thesis research. Guidelines for this process are summarized below. The Supervisory Committee Chair (faculty advisor) should be involved in planning and development of the research project but should not edit or rewrite the written research proposal. This document should be an accurate representation of the student's writing and reasoning abilities.

Sections of a Research, Teaching, or Extension Proposal can include, but not limited to:

  • Biosketch
  • Project Summary or Abstract
  • Project Narrative or Description
  • Timelines
  • Bibliography and References
  • Facilities and Equipment
  • Budget (encouraged, but not required)

Written Research Proposal Guidelines

  • At least two weeks before the oral exam, email the proposal and evaluation form to the supervisory committee members, NHS Graduate Chair and NHS Graduate Coordinator.
  • General formatting guidelines for the proposal include: 12-point font, 1” margins, double spacing, pagination, a cover page, and additional pages for citation of sources and a bibliography.

Oral Research Proposal Defense Requirements

  • 20-minute seminar presentation with Supervisory Committee members
  • Followed by oral examination by the Supervisor Committee

Areas to be evaluated include the student's knowledge of the science and methods to be used in the project and the student's ability to express his/her ideas orally and to answer questions related to the proposed project.

The supervisory committee members will provide constructive feedback. The Supervisory Committee may recommend:

  1. Unconditional approval of the research project proposal
  2. Conditional approval (the committee may specify remedial action to improve writing skills, additional course work to improve knowledge in a technical area critical to the research, or other action as necessary)
  3. Not approved: The student will be given a second opportunity to prepare and defend a revised proposal within one month. The Supervisory Committee can continue to be consulted for advice on ways to improve the proposal and enhance the success of the research project. If the student is unable to write a satisfactory proposal, then it may be recommended that they pursue the MS Option B non-thesis.