International Affairs Thesis | NSPE | The New School in New York City
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Thesis Option

  • The International Affairs master's thesis is a documented independent project based on fieldwork, institutional research, and/or theoretical research involving primary and secondary sources. It can be in the form of a research paper (usually 45-60 pages) or a media project with supporting documentation. All theses must conform to the highest standards of research and writing. Past theses considered exemplary by the faculty are available for review in the program office. Students pursuing the thesis option draft and complete the thesis during their last two semesters of study.

    Thesis Option FAQ

    Q: What are the requirements for the thesis option?

    A: To complete the thesis option, a student must submit a thesis that has been approved and signed by two readers. The thesis must meet all the formal requirements for formatting and "depositing" (that is, submitting a final version of) a master's thesis. The student is required to register for two courses (6 credits): 1) Thesis Workshop, a seminar discussed below, followed by 2) Thesis Supervision, equivalent to independent study. The assigned faculty member for Thesis Supervision is the student's first reader (with a few rare exceptions).

    Q: Who should select the thesis option?

    A: Two groups of students most frequently select the thesis option: First, those whose field experiences raise questions they would like to pursue through more formal and focuses research. Second, those on an academic track who expect to go on to a PhD or plan for a research career in a non-academic setting such as a think tank.

    Q: When do I have to define my thesis topic?

    A: If you are interested in writing a thesis, it is never too early to think about a topic you might pursue. Many students find that their experience in the International Field Program leads them to a thesis topic. In any case, students are advised to begin thinking seriously about the thesis not later than the summer before they register for Thesis Workshop.

    Q: What is the structure of the Thesis Workshop?

    A: This is a small seminar (limited to twelve students) taken in the penultimate semester of the International Affairs program. It counts as a course and carries three credits. The purpose of the workshop is to prepare the students to write a master's thesis by helping them refine their research questions, identifying data sources, and construct an argument. The product of Thesis Workshop is a thesis proposal, a framework for writing the thesis in the following semester.

    Q: What is the structure of Thesis Supervision?

    A: In the semester following the Thesis Workshop, a student registers for Thesis Supervision under the name of his or her thesis supervisor. Thesis Supervision counts as a course and carries three credits. A finished proposal must be approved by the thesis committee before the beginning of the supervision semester. The student then proceeds to carry out the agreed-upon independent research and writes (or produces) the thesis supported by regular advice and guidance from the thesis supervisor.

    Q: Who are the thesis readers? What do they do?

    A: During the course of the Thesis Workshop, a student must identify two readers for his or her thesis. The student should consult with the readers during the process of research and writing. They are expected to provide feedback on drafts and, in the end, approve the thesis for final submission.

    The first reader must be a full time member of the International Affairs faculty, iIdeally one with expertise in the field of the student's research, who can offer substantive feedback. The secondary reader may be any scholar or professional in a field related to the student's topic and could be external to the program and even to The New School. Students often choose for their second reader an individual who can help a student gain access to particular information or provide unique insight into a topic based on personal experience. External readers require prior approval by the student's thesis supervisor.

    Q: Where can I get detailed information about the requirements for completing a master's thesis?

    A: Detail rules on formatting a thesis and "depositing" the thesis can be found in the Thesis Guidelines (PDF).

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