Thesis Guidelines

Guidelines for Completing the Master’s Thesis in Cognitive Linguistics

While completing a thesis in cognitive linguistics, students must be continuously enrolled in COGS 651 (typically in the spring and fall semesters) up to and through the oral defense. Students must complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of COGS 651, usually with the same faculty advisor as the instructor of record (it is possible but not advisable to change thesis advisors during the course of the project). Any primary faculty member from the Department of Cognitive Science can serve as a thesis supervisor. As a supervisor, the faculty member will be responsible for the following tasks:

  • Evaluating the student’s progress each semester by issuing a grade of “S” or “U”;
  • Producing a brief written evaluation for the student’s file each semester along with a final evaluation of the project and defense;
  • Advising and approving a one-page abstract of the thesis project, which is to be sent to the MA program director, who will archive it in the student’s file.
    • This abstract typically serves as the thesis proposal, though your supervisor may request a more elaborated proposal;
  • Assisting the student in the constitution of the faculty committee, which consists of the supervisor (as committee chair) and two members of the faculty of the university.

What are the Content Requirements for the MA Thesis in Cognitive Linguistics?

All MA theses should follow these specific guidelines set by the Department of Cognitive Science. A defendable thesis must accomplish the following:

  • Articulate a clear and original project in the area of cognitive linguistics, broadly construed;
  • Consist of a sustained argument of approximately 50 double-spaced pages, not including references;
  • Supply a complete reference list and proper in-text citations according to either the citation and style guidelines provided by the APA 6th edition or the journal Cognitive Linguistics (though the student may adopt a different citation system in consultation with the thesis supervisor).
  • Find past topics by following the instructions at the bottom of this document

What are the Formatting Requirements for the Thesis?

The school of graduate studies specifies the requirements for the final electronic version of the thesis here. Earlier versions of the thesis should follow these guidelines as well to avoid having to reformat.

Thesis Defense, Forms, and Deadlines

All thesis defenses are public and must be arranged according to the guidelines set out in the General Bulletin and in compliance with the timetable and formal procedures set by the School of Graduate Studies. Cogling MA thesis defenses typically run one hour.

The department’s own policy on the conduct of thesis defenses is as follows:

  • The thesis supervisor has ultimate and discretionary authority on determining whether a thesis is ready for defense. (This decision can be made without consulting the committee, or it can be made by consulting all or select members of committee.)
  • The supervisor also is free to determine the format of the defense, but should communicate their agenda to both the committee and the candidate well in advance of the public defense.
  • It is typical, but not obligatory, that a defense begins with a short presentation by the MA candidate, summarizing the project and its significance.
  • It is typical, but not obligatory, that each member of the committee is allotted time to question the candidate directly.
  • The thesis supervisor determines the order of questioning.
  • Final deliberations of the committee occur after the committee has finished questioning the candidate. These deliberations are conducted in camera (privately, with the candidate outside the room but remaining near by).
  • The supervisor then calls the candidate back into the room to deliver the results.

Revisions and Unsuccessful Defenses

If there are any required revisions, the committee determines the process, which can include vesting the supervisor with complete authority to oversee and assess all revisions (usually the default for minor revisions); or, each committee member can insist on assessing and approving the revisions (usually the default for significant changes). The examining committee must agree unanimously that the candidate has passed the thesis examination. In rare cases, the committee may decide that the thesis does not meet the requirements for the MA. In such cases, the candidate will work with the supervisor to determine how to proceed.

For a visual guide to help you plan, please see this information for current students.