Identifying and Working toward Your Thesis Topic

Although you will not likely enroll in thesis hours until after your second year in the program, you should be working toward your thesis well before this. Through course readings and assignments, conversations with faculty and other students, participation in department workshops and colloquia, and other activities, you should explore and narrow down possible thesis topics over  your time in the program.

When writing your thesis, the topic you choose should represent an area of sustainable interest for you. It is also essential that you choose a topic for which your coursework has prepared you, and a topic about which at least one Rhetoric & Composition faculty member has expertise. When you have identified the general topic you would like to pursue, you should start the process of choosing a thesis chair and faculty advisory committe.

You will need some idea of your thesis topic before you can develop your annotated bibliography, as this document requires you to frame the bibliography with a thesis overview and explain in your annotates how you will use the sources in your thesis.


Choosing a Chair and Forming an Advisory Committee

As you move through coursework and identify program faculty whose interests and expertise relate to your thesis topic, be sure to engage them in conversations about this topic and the possible contributions you could make to the field’s scholarly conversations about it. In addition, be prepared to explain how your interest developed and how it relates to your training and professional goals. 

Try to identify a chair who both has significant expertise related to your thesis topic and who will work well with you to keep you on track. Ideally, you should identify and meet with your prospective chair at least a calendar year before you intend to graduate. Once the faculty member has agreed to serve as your thesis chair, you should work together to narrow your topic into a workable project or study and to determine which other faculty members should serve on your advisory committee.

One of the required two readers on the advisory committee must be a program faculty or affiliated faculty member; the second reader may but need not be a faculty member from another department. If you plan to have two professors co-direct your thesis, both must be program faculty. If no program faculty member agrees to direct your project, or if you are unable to identify two other experts to form your committee, you must select a different topic. The program director and Graduate Studies must approve your committee after you submit the completed Thesis Advisory Committee Form.


Enrolling in Thesis Hours

After your coursework has been completed and annotated bibliography approved, your work in the program will focus on the thesis requirement. Remember that before you can enroll in thesis hours you will need to form a thesis committee and submit the completed Thesis Advisory Committee Form to the program assistant, who will forward it to Graduate Studies for approval. Remember, too, that for thesis hours you and your chair will need to complete the CAH Restricted Registration Agreement Form and submit this to the program assistant. If you are on an assistantship or otherwise need to qualify as a full time student, you must take 3 thesis hours each term; otherwise you only need 3 thesis hours total. Once you begin thesis hours, you must be continuously enrolled every term, including Summer, until you complete the thesis requirement.

Because you will almost certainly not be able to propose, research, write, revise, and defend a thesis in a single terms, you should plan on completing the thesis requirement over two terms, preferably the Fall and Spring.


Completing the Thesis Proposal

The Thesis Proposal page explains this genre in more detail and recommends that you work on the thesis proposal in ENC 6720 or in the Summer before you enroll in thesis hours, if you begin these in the Fall term. If your project requires IRB approval, you should also secure this in advance of and include it in your thesis proposal.

After working with your chair to develop and revise your proposal, you will send it to the other members of your advisory committee for feedback, and your chair will schedule a proposal meeting with the full committee. During this meeting, the committee will approve, conditionally approve, or ask you to revise the proposal. Once your proposal is approved by the committee, your chair should send it via email to the program director. Be sure to plan carefully and communicate effectively with your committee so that you have ample time to develop and get approved the proposal before the end of your first semester of thesis hours, if not sooner. You should not begin writing your thesis until your proposal has been approved by the committee. If your committee still rejects your proposal after any requested revisions, you must select a different topic and/or form a different committee.


Meeting University Thesis Requirements and Deadlines

As you work on your thesis, you will need to meet the UCF Graduate Studies requirements and deadlines for submitting your thesis format review, scheduling and announcing your defense, and submitting the final thesis. The Graduate Studies Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Gateway website details specific university processes, requirements, and deadlines, including the step-by-step guide Completing Your Thesis or Dissertation.

As the Completing Your Thesis guide explains, the following requirements must be met by graduating students in their final term. Note: Deadlines for thesis format review, thesis defense, and thesis final submission are listed on each term’s Academic Calendar.

  1. Submit a fully formatted, bookmarked PDF thesis file for format review by the format review deadline listed in the Academic Calendar; follow the standards outlined on the Formatting the ETD page of the ETD Gateway website
  2. If approval not granted upon initial review, promptly resubmit your corrected thesis file for format approval
  3. Submit the Thesis and Dissertation Release Option form several weeks before the defense
  4. Schedule and create the announcement for your thesis defense, and send the announcement to the program assistant at least two weeks before the defense date
  5. Send the full thesis (preferably already revised based on chair and committee feedback) to the committee at least two weeks, and ideally four weeks, before the thesis defense
  6. Submit your full thesis to Turnitin.com through your chair before the thesis defense
  7. Prepare the Thesis Approval Form before the thesis; you can access the form through the Graduate Studies Thesis and Dissertation Services website
  8. Defend your thesis by the thesis defense deadline listed in the Academic Calendar
  9. If necessary (and it usually is), make any revisions to the thesis as directed by the committee, and send the revised thesis to the chair and committee for approval
  10. After all members of the advisory committee have signed the Thesis Approval Form, submit form to the program assistant, who will get the signatures from the program director and dean and then submit the completed form to Graduate Studies; Graduate Studies must receive the completed form by the final submission deadline listed in the Academic Calendar
  11. Submit your final thesis on the Final Submission page of the Thesis and Dissertation Services website by the thesis final submission deadline listed in the Academic Calendar

The College of Graduate Studies offers several thesis and dissertation workshops each term. Students are highly encouraged to attend these workshops early in the process to fully understand the above policies and procedures. If you have any questions that are not answered by the resources above, you can reach the Graduate Studies thesis and dissertation office at editor@ucf.edu.

See the Thesis Proposal and Thesis Project pages for additional requirements, strategies, and resources for developing these two documents.