Individualized Study (MA)

Program description.

Gallatin’s Master of Arts program offers each student an opportunity to explore their unique interests. Working closely with a faculty adviser, the student creates an individualized, interdisciplinary program shaped according to their own vision. With diverse goals, Gallatin students are often intellectual and professional pioneers, mapping new relationships among fields of knowledge. Students are encouraged to draw on the educational resources of NYU’s graduate and professional schools and of New York City.

See Admissions for admission requirements and instructions specific to this program.

Program Requirements

Additional gallatin graduate course, thesis proposal seminar, master's thesis i, master's thesis ii, about master’s thesis, taking courses across nyu, individualized projects, independent study policies, tutorial policies, timeline of responsibilities for internships, private lessons, total required credits, graduate-level courses, thesis advisement.

The program requires the completion of 40 credits, comprised of the following:

Each graduate student works closely with a faculty adviser to design a curriculum that integrates course work throughout the University with the Gallatin graduate core courses and individualized project options.

The MA program begins with the proseminar, a graduate core course that is taken in the first or second semester of enrollment (must be taken before completing 12 units). The majority of the curriculum will then consist of course work taken at the various NYU graduate schools and can also include options such as Gallatin elective courses, independent study, tutorials, internships, and private lessons.

The graduate program culminates with the MA thesis. Students begin the thesis process by writing the thesis proposal in the Thesis Proposal Seminar, which must be successfully fulfilled before completing 24 credits. Students then continue working on the thesis in Master's Thesis I and Master's Thesis II, which are independent studies overseen by the adviser.

Gallatin Core Courses

All Gallatin graduate students are required 14 credits in the five Gallatin Core courses:

Each fall semester, Gallatin offers three Proseminars that focus on theory and methods in the arts, the humanities or the social sciences. The Proseminar introduces students to key concepts and thinkers and emphasizes the reading of classic and contemporary works of theory in the arts, humanities, or the social sciences. Students should choose the Proseminar that aligns most closely with their proposed concentration for the program, keeping in mind that they have the option to take an additional Proseminar (if space allows) to fulfill the additional Gallatin graduate course requirement.

This course performs a number of functions:

  • It introduces students to the nature of individualized and interdisciplinary studies by engaging them in work on a broad theme or problem. Students learn how different kinds of scholars approach a common problem: how they ask questions, gather relevant information, conduct analysis and reach conclusions.
  • The Proseminar helps students think through their own programs of study by broadening their conception of the knowledge and skills they will need to pursue their plans and by encouraging them to clarify their own educational goals.
  • Finally, the Proseminar engages students in some of the academic processes—research, analytic thinking, scholarly communication—that they will need throughout their graduate studies.

The specific course descriptions may vary from semester to semester, but each class will raise issues of approach and method that every student needs to consider. The aim of the Proseminar is to broaden the student’s interdisciplinary inquiry and to suggest ways that the University’s resources can be used to attain the student’s goals.

Offered in the fall semester. This course is graded with letter grades (A-F). Students are required to complete the Proseminar before earning 12 credits. Students who have not completed the Proseminar within the first 12 credits may be prevented from registering for future courses.

In addition to the Proseminar and Gallatin thesis courses (Thesis Proposal Seminar, Master’s Thesis I, and Master’s Thesis II), students must take another four credits in graduate courses offered by Gallatin.

This requirement serves several functions: to engage students more fully with the Gallatin community; to give them an opportunity to encounter and integrate wide-ranging theoretical, historical, and methodological insights; and to strengthen their academic and interdisciplinary skills. Students have considerable leeway in choosing how to satisfy this requirement, thus manifesting the individualized character of the program.

Students fulfill this requirement by completing one of the following courses:

  • a Gallatin graduate elective course (ELEC-GG);
  • a second Gallatin Proseminar (CORE-GG 20**);
  • a Gallatin independent study ( INDIV-GG 2901 Independent Study ) or tutorial ( INDIV-GG 2925 Tutorial: ) (internships and private lessons will not fulfill this requirement);
  • a graduate-level class offered by a Gallatin instructor at, or in conjunction with, another NYU department or program.

Each spring semester. Gallatin offers three sections of the Thesis Proposal Seminar (TPS). This course is taken after the student has completed a Proseminar and generally during the second semester of full-time study, or after completing 12 credits and before earning 24 credits.

As the first step in the sequence leading to the thesis, the Thesis Proposal Seminar meets regularly during the semester and moves students toward the completion of an acceptable thesis proposal.

Students learn about the structure and content of the thesis proposal as they:

  • consider ways of integrating their work and articulating a core problem;
  • discuss the conventions of scholarly discourse, documentation, and argumentation; and
  • formulate a plan for the thesis.

Multiple sections of this course are offered every spring. This course is offered only in the spring term. The course combines classroom instruction with special events (e.g., guest lectures, library visits, human subjects research instruction). The class also takes advantage of student research affinity groups formed before and during the students’ enrollment. For more information on the proposal itself, please consult this page, which details the three kinds of thesis proposals.

To fulfill the thesis proposal requirement, students must receive a grade of "P" from their instructor and submit an adviser approved draft of the thesis proposal to the program via Thesis Proposal Submission form. After completing the Thesis Proposal Seminar in the spring term, students are required to submit the adviser-approved thesis proposal to Gallatin by June 15.

Offered only in the spring semester. This course is graded Pass/Fail. Students are required to complete the Thesis Proposal Seminar after earning at least 12 credits and before earning 24 credits. Students who have not completed the Thesis Proposal Seminar within the first 24 credits may be prevented from registering for future courses.

This course is generally taken in the third semester of full-time study, or after completing 24 credits. The faculty adviser supervises and grades Master's Thesis I.

  • Prerequisite: Thesis Proposal Seminar
  • To register for this course please follow these registration guidelines. Students must include this course on their Plan of Study and submit an MA Thesis I Registration Form. 
  • To pass this course, students must demonstrate significant progress toward completing the thesis.

In Master’s Thesis I, students will complete the basic research for and begin drafting the thesis. The course, which is a two unit course supervised by the student’s adviser, will entail independent work, supported by the writing resources of the MA Program. 

Students enrolled in MA Thesis I:

  • attend a meeting (registered students will be emailed information about place and time at the beginning of the semester) with the MA Program faculty and staff to discuss the overall goals of the course;
  • immerse themselves in the relevant scholarly discourses and literatures and begin drafting the thesis and, in the case of artistic theses, developing the artwork and accompanying research essay; 
  • meet with their advisers, on a regular basis, to consult on the content, logic, organization and methods for the thesis; 
  • draw on the resources of the MA Program (e.g. individual consultations, organized peer writing groups, themed writing workshops) led by Gallatin M.A. program staff; 
  • have the option to present their work in progress at the Raw Forum. The MA RAW (Research and Writing) Forum gives Gallatin MA students the opportunity to share their research and ideas with students,  faculty, and staff, making connections in an intellectually engaged, supportive environment.

Offered in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. This course is graded Pass/Fail.

This course is generally taken in the final semester of study.  The faculty adviser supervises Master's Thesis II.  The Gallatin MA program submits grades for students in Master's Thesis II. 

  • Prerequisite: Master's Thesis I
  • To register for this course please follow these registration guidelines. To register for this course, students must include it on their Plan of Study and submit a MA Thesis II Registration form. 
  • To pass this class, which is supervised by the student’s adviser, the student must submit and defend the thesis.*

In the first months of the semester, the student continues to work in collaboration with the adviser to complete the thesis paper or, in the case of an artistic thesis, the artwork and accompanying research essays. All students are further expected to:

  • attend one meeting at the start of the semester (registered students will be emailed information about place and time at the beginning of the semester) with MA Program faculty and staff to discuss the overall goals of the course. 
  • draw on the resources of the MA Program (individual consultations with writing specialists, peer writing groups, themed writing workshops) during the writing process. 

As prescribed by the online thesis and defense calendar, students must receive approval for all work from their adviser far enough in advance of the defense so that the other panelists will have at least four weeks to read and inspect the submission. For more details, please see the additional information about Master's Thesis II on the Gallatin course website and refer back to the thesis and defense calendar as well your registration forms.

Offered in the fall, spring and summer. This course is graded Pass/Fail.

* Students who are not able to defend their thesis while registered for MA Thesis II will receive a grade of incomplete for the course.  That grade will be changed once they successfully defend their thesis.  If you need additional time to complete your thesis following MA Thesis II, you should register for Thesis Advisement.

Each graduate student in the Gallatin School completes a final thesis as the culmination of their work toward a Master of Arts degree. The thesis may take one of three forms:  a research thesis , an artistic thesis , or a project thesis . In each case, the thesis represents a synthesis of the student’s accumulated knowledge and skill and an opportunity to display the ideas, practices and skills learned through the program. While the master’s thesis, unlike a doctoral dissertation, does not have to create new knowledge or break new ground, it does display the student’s ability to go beyond the mere collection of information into synthesis, analysis, judgment and interpretation. Moreover, it should demonstrate the student’s familiarity with a substantial body of thought and literature and illustrate mastery of some self-chosen field of study.

Students complete 26 credits in elective graduate-level courses offered by Gallatin or other NYU schools, or Gallatin individualized projects. Gallatin students may take courses throughout the graduate degree-granting programs of NYU. It should be noted that some courses have prerequisites, and others may be limited to students in their respective departments. Graduate students will not receive credit for undergraduate course work.

Based on their individual needs and interests, Gallatin students take courses in graduate programs throughout the University, and are required to meet the prerequisites for any courses in other schools of the University. As long as they have met the prerequisites and the program does not limit enrollment to its own students, Gallatin students are eligible to enroll in courses in all the other graduate schools of NYU (except the School of Medicine and the College of Dentistry). Many Gallatin students take courses in several different NYU graduate schools.

Graduate students will not receive credit for undergraduate course work. Courses that contain -G* in the subject area (e.g. CORE-GG, COLIT-GA, MCC-GE, etc.) are graduate-level courses. Courses with a -U* in the subject code are undergraduate courses (e.g., JOUR-UA, IDSEM-UG, MCC-UE, etc.).

  • College of Global Public Health
  • Graduate School of Arts and Science
  • Leonard N. Stern School of Business
  • Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
  • School of Law
  • School of Professional Studies
  • Silver School of Social Work
  • Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
  • Tandon School of Engineering
  • Tisch School of the Arts

For more information, see NYU Courses - Taking Courses Across NYU .

At Gallatin, students have the option to pursue individualized projects, which are learning experiences that are not available in the traditional classroom. The types of individualized projects include independent studies, tutorials, internships and private lessons (private lessons require approval of the MA program Faculty Co-Directors). A maximum of 12 credits may be earned in individualized projects. Master’s Thesis I and Master’s Thesis II, which are required independent studies, are not counted toward these 12 credits. If a student chooses to complete the Additional Gallatin Graduate Course requirement through independent study, these credits will count toward the 12-unit maximum for individualized projects. Students are permitted to earn a maximum of 6 credits in private lessons.

Independent Study

An independent study provides students with the opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty member on a particular topic or creative project. Often the idea for an independent study arises in a course; for example, in a seminar on early 20th-century American history, a student may develop an interest in the Harlem Renaissance and ask the instructor to supervise an independent study focused exclusively on this topic during the next semester. Students may also develop creative projects in areas such as, but not limited to, music composition, filmmaking, or fiction writing. For more information visit the Independent Study Proposal Guidelines web page.

  • Students are required to submit an Independent Study Proposal form by the published deadline listed for each semester. Students who cannot meet this deadline are advised to register for a classroom course in place of the independent study, and may submit the proposal for a future semester.
  • Individualized projects (Independent Study and Tutorial) may be conducted during the Fall, Spring, and Summer terms. No individualized projects are allowed in January term.
  • The Gallatin Independent Study course (INDIV-GG 2901) is offered at the Washington Square campus only.  Remote independent studies are not permitted. 
  • Generally, the work for an independent study should be comparable to a graduate-level classroom course. See the Independent Study Proposal Guidelines for specific instructions regarding requirements. The specific format of the work will be determined by the student and the instructor who will evaluate it. They may choose several short papers, or a longer paper written in sections as the work progresses and depending on the nature of the study, video productions, paintings or music productions may be appropriate. The work for the study should be submitted according to the schedule of due dates agreed upon at the outset, and as with a classroom course, late work may be penalized.
  • Independent studies may be taken for two, three or four credits. The number of credits determines the number of readings and amount of work assigned. See the Independent Study Proposal Guidelines for specific requirements.
  • Only instructors employed by NYU can be the instructor for a Gallatin Independent Study. All instructors must be located at the Washington Square campus.
  • Independent studies are graded with letter grades (A through F).
  • The independent study proposal cannot duplicate an existing class, nor can a student take a course as an independent study, unless there is a valid exception. If an NYU course exists that covers the content of a student's proposed independent study, the student is expected to enroll in the NYU class.
  • Meeting spaces for an Independent Study are identified and secured by the student and/or instructor. Please note that personal spaces (i.e. an apartment or dorm room) are not suitable. It is recommended that the instructor or student book an NYU space through Bobst Library.
  • The Gallatin program is designed for a careful balance between independent and classroom experience. Graduate students may therefore take a maximum of 12 credits of Individualized Projects. This includes any combination of Independent Study, Tutorial, Internship and Private Lesson credit. If a student receives credit for Course Equivalency, this will decrease that graduate student's allowance of Individualized Project credit.
  • Students enrolled in another NYU school are generally not permitted to apply for a Gallatin Independent Study. In rare instances a student from another NYU school might be able to take a Gallatin Independent Study with a Gallatin professor. In all cases, students should contactGallatin for more information.
  • adviser’s approval
  • instructor’s approval
  • completed proposal form
  • description of the study
  • written work to be evaluated

Tutorials are small groups of two to five students working closely with a faculty member on a common topic, project, or skill. Tutorials are student-generated projects, and like independent studies, ideas for tutorials typically follow from questions raised in a particular course. Students may collaborate on creative projects as well. Students work together with the instructor to formulate the structure of the tutorial, the details of which are described in the tutorial proposal and submitted to the Faculty Committee on Individualized Studies for review and approval. The tutorial group meets regularly throughout the semester, and students follow a common syllabus: all participants complete the same readings, write papers on similar topics, etc. At the end of the semester all students are evaluated by the instructor and assigned a letter grade (A through F).  For more information, see Tutorial Proposal Guidelines .

  • Students are required to submit a Tutorial Proposal form by the published deadline listed for each semester. Students who cannot meet this deadline are advised to register for a classroom course in place of the independent study, and may submit the proposal for a future semester.
  • Individualized projects (Tutorial and Independent Study) may be conducted during the Fall, Spring, and Summer terms. No individualized projects are allowed in January term.
  • Generally, the work for a tutorial should be comparable to a graduate-level classroom course. See Tutorial Proposal Guidelines for specific instructions regarding requirements.The specific format of the work will be determined by the students and the instructor who will evaluate it. They may choose several short papers, or a longer paper written in sections as the work progresses and depending on the nature of the study, video productions, paintings or music productions may be appropriate. The work for the study should be submitted according to the schedule of due dates agreed upon at the outset, and as with a classroom course, late work may be penalized.
  • Tutorial groups must include at least two students, but no more than a total of five students. At least two members of a Tutorial group must be Gallatin students.
  • Only instructors employed by NYU can be the instructor for a Gallatin Tutorial.  All instructors must be located at the Washington Square campus.
  • Tutorials may be taken for two, three or four credits. The number of credits determines the number of readings and amount of work assigned. See the Tutorial Proposal Guidelines for specific requirements.
  • All students enrolled in the same tutorial must register for the same number of credits and follow the same syllabus.
  • Tutorials are graded with letter grades (A through F).
  • Meeting spaces for a Tutorial are identified and secured by the students and/or instructor. Please note that personal spaces (i.e. an apartment or dorm room) are not suitable. It is recommended that the instructor or one of the students book an NYU space through Bobst Library.
  • The Gallatin program is designed for a careful balance between independent and classroom experience. Graduate students may therefor take a maximum of 12 credits of Individualized Projects. This includes any combination of Independent Study, Tutorial, Internship and Private Lesson credit. If a student receives credit for Course Equivalency, this will decrease that student's allowance of Individualized Project credit.
  • Students enrolled in another NYU school might be permitted to join an existing Gallatin Tutorial. In all cases, students enrolled in other NYU schools should contact Kathe Ann Joseph for more information.

Internships

Students interested in pursuing an internship must first consult with their faculty adviser to determine how an internship would fit into their academic program.  If the adviser agrees that an internship is a good idea, the student should then reach out to the Office of Academic Internships to determine next steps in the registration process. 

Internships can be taken for one, two, three and four credits. The number of credits is determined by the number of hours worked at the placement each week over the course of the semester. Typically, 3-4 hours per week is equivalent to 1 unit, and credits are adjusted from there. A typical 4-unit internship will require approximately 12-16 hours/week of on-site work. Internships for more than 4-units are granted by special approval by the Senior Director of Academic Internships. All graduate internships are graded pass/fail. The faculty adviser assigns the final grade, which is based on the meetings, the reflections and the written work, as well as the supervisor’s performance evaluation.

  • Site Confirmation Letter: Before the semester begins
  • Proposal : Before the semester begins
  • Reflections: Submitted to the adviser periodically during the semester
  • Learning Contract: Due by the end of the second week of classes
  • Progress Report: Due mid-semester
  • Final research paper: Due end of semester

 For more information visit the Internship web page.

Private lessons permit students to earn academic credit for their studies at performing or visual arts studios in the metropolitan area. By studying with professional, New York City-based artist/teachers, students are offered the opportunity to learn and perfect their craft. Private lessons are available in a variety of areas such as voice, music, dance, acting, and the visual arts. Unlike private lessons offered elsewhere in the University, in Gallatin private lessons are arranged and paid for by the student. Students interested in private lessons must receive approval of the MA program Faculty Co-Directors.

Additional Information about Program Requirements

Degree requirements in the Gallatin School are subject to change. Students are required to complete the degree requirements in effect during the first semester in which they matriculate at Gallatin. Students who are readmitted must fulfill the degree requirements that are in effect when they are readmitted, unless their offer of readmission states otherwise.

To be eligible for the Master of Arts degree, students must complete 40 credits within six years of matriculating in Gallatin. While students are generally not permitted to exceed the required number of credits for the degree, if there are unusual circumstances requiring additional course work in excess of 40 credits, the student may petition the MA Program Committee to take the extra credits. Degree requirements may be completed in no fewer than three semesters.

The master’s degree must be completed within six years. If there are unusual circumstances warranting a formal extension, the student may request one from the MA Program Committee. Degree requirements may be completed in no fewer than three semesters.

Graduate students will not receive credit toward the master’s degree for undergraduate courses. Courses that contain -G* in the subject area (e.g. CORE-GG, COLIT-GA, MCC-GE, etc.) are graduate-level courses. Courses with a -U* in the subject code are undergraduate courses (e.g., JOUR-UA, IDSEM-UG, MCC-UE, etc.).

Students who do not complete the thesis and defend it successfully during the semester in which they register for Master’s Thesis II are required to register for Thesis Advisement each fall and spring until the thesis has been completed and defended. Students who plan to graduate in September must also register for Thesis Advisement during the summer prior to their graduation. credits earned through Thesis Advisement are not included in the 40-unit requirement for the master’s degree.

Sample Plan of Study

Below is one of many possible configurations for a plan of study for the Gallatin MA degree. Students may opt to take more or fewer credits throughout the semesters, but should be aware that 12 credits is considered full-time by the Gallatin MA Program.

Courses listed below as "Elective" must be graduate-level courses. Students may choose from Gallatin Graduate Elective courses, Gallatin individualized project courses, or courses offered by other NYU graduate programs.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, graduates will:

  • Create an individualized and integrated program of study drawing on theories, methods and practices from a variety of disciplines, schools of thought and professions.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with a substantial body of thought, academic and professional literatures, and related practices germane to their individually constructed programs.
  • Perform effectively the higher forms of cognitive and intellectual operations: not merely to know and understand facts, ideas, theories, and texts, but also to analyze, synthesize, render judgments (including, where appropriate, ethical and/or aesthetic judgments), and interpret them; to identify significant questions in their areas of concentration and to explore, investigate and respond to them in rigorous, imaginative and productive ways; for artists and practitioners, to approach their work with an understanding of the theoretical and scholarly tools that can inform it (following the artist/scholar or practitioner/scholar model).
  • Utilize effectively the technical skills and tools required for locating and employing appropriate informational, organizational and material resources for their work; to implement effectively the methods of research and practice demanded by their self-designed fields.
  • Present their ideas and practices effectively in oral, written, and, if appropriate, visual and virtual communication.
  • Produce a culminating work (viz., a research, artistic, or project thesis) that integrates and reflects a substantial portion of the ideas, practices and skills acquired through their individualized programs; in one of several forms of the thesis, students will demonstrate:

​ Research thesis : the ability to articulate a significant research question, to locate it in its theoretical and/or applied context, to design methods of investigation appropriate to that problem, to collect and analyze relevant information using productive concepts and theories, and to construct an effective argument in response to the central research question(s).

Artistic thesis : the ability to produce an artistic work (a film, novel, dance concert, series of paintings, etc.) of high quality; to conduct a research study that relates the creative work to appropriate theoretical and scholarly contexts; and to analyze the creative process effectively in technical and logistical terms.

Project thesis : the ability to identify and analyze an issue, problem or need in the chosen area of practice; to design, implement and evaluate a professional project addressing that problem; and to describe and explain that project in a written document that incorporates appropriate theoretical and scholarly tools and approaches.

MA Degree Requirements and Limitations

Nyu policies, gallatin academic policies.

University-wide policies can be found on the New York University Policy pages .

For a full list of school-specific related academic policies, please see the Gallatin School of Individualized Study Academic Programs page . 

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Frequently Asked Questions

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How do I let Gallatin know that my adviser has approved the Thesis Proposal?

When the student submits the online Thesis Proposal submission form , Gallatin contacts the adviser to confirm his or her approval of the proposal.

The thesis proposal form mentions a methods course. What is this?

The methods course will likely not have the word "methods" in the title, but it is a course or independent study in which the student has studied the analytic approach taken in the thesis. Examples of methods courses include: oral history; community studies, media analysis, techniques in art history, qualitative methods in sociology, statistics, discourse analysis, etc.

Do I submit the thesis proposal that I completed in the Thesis Proposal Seminar?

Yes. Gallatin strongly encourages students to submit the thesis proposal to Gallatin soon after completing Thesis Proposal Seminar. Keep in mind that even if you receive a passing grade in the course, you must submit your adviser-approved proposal to Gallatin using the online Thesis Proposal Submission form . Note that students who complete Thesis Proposal Seminar in the spring term are required to submit the thesis proposal to Gallatin by September 16.

After I submit my thesis proposal to Gallatin, what is the turn-around time for receiving feedback and approval?

During the fall and spring semester, the review takes approximately 2-3 weeks; during the summer, approximately 5-6 weeks.

If I am doing an artistic thesis, are there any funds to help defray costs of mounting a performance?

Yes, once your thesis proposal has been approved by Gallatin, you may apply for a SIFF Grant. Please see the online application for the SIFF Grant for more information.

Is there funding available for students who plan to conduct research related to a research or project thesis?

Yes, you may apply for the Graduate Thesis Support Fund . These awards provide up to $1,500 to support the purchase of equipment, travel, or any other reasonable expenses required to complete the thesis.

When do I submit the thesis to the second and third readers?

After your adviser has approved your thesis, you must submit it to your second and third readers at least four weeks before your defense date. Please consult the page on the thesis submission and defense process for more information.

Who is responsible for scheduling the defense—the student, adviser, or Gallatin staff?

The student is responsible for the scheduling process. You should consult with your adviser and the second and third readers about possible dates and times. After you have finalized arrangements for your defense, you will need to submit this information—the date and time, as well as the names and contact information of committee members—to Gallatin on the Thesis Defense Registration form at least three weeks prior to your defense.

Can my third reader be a non-NYU person?

We prefer that the third reader be a NYU faculty person who knows your work; under rare circumstances, we will allow an outside third reader whose CV has been reviewed and approved by the MA program directors. If you would like to request permission to include a committee member who is not an NYU faculty member, please contact the Administrative Director of the MA program.

Where do I submit the final thesis?

You should submit the thesis using the online Final Thesis Submission form .

How much time after the defense do I have to make revisions on the final thesis?

You have 30 days from the date of the defense to changes recommended by your thesis committee.

Whom do I contact if I have a procedural question?

If you have procedural questions about the thesis proposal submission process, the thesis submission process, or the thesis defense, you may write to [email protected] . You may also contact the MA program directors with questions.  

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Thesis Proposal

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Graduate students begin the thesis process by writing a thesis proposal that describes the central elements of the thesis work.  Those elements vary depending on the type of thesis (research, artistic, or project) that the student plans to write. Students begin drafting the thesis proposal in the course Thesis Proposal Seminar . 

Below, please find detailed information about the following:

  • research thesis proposal
  • artistic thesis proposal
  • project thesis proposal
  • formatting your proposal  
  • getting your proposal approved  
  • submit your proposal  

Research Thesis Proposal

The proposal for a research thesis consists of five sections:

  • Thesis Statement Following an optional introduction, the basic function of this section is to articulate a phenomenon that the student proposes to investigate (whether a social event, process, a literary work, an intellectual idea or something else), and the question(s), issue(s) or problem(s) related to that phenomenon that the student plans to address in the thesis. The core of the statement may take the form of a hypothesis that the student will test, of a proposition or argument that the student intends to support, or of a general problem or question the student  will explore. The section puts that basic problem statement in a larger context by explaining its historical origins (where did it come from?) and its intellectual, social, and/or artistic context (what conversation, debate, or line of inquiry does it participate in?). It also describes the sub-questions or themes that constitute the general problem. Students will cite appropriate scholarly, professional and other sources for the ideas, questions and background information contained in the section.
  • Research Methods In this section, the student will identify (a) the kinds of information that needed to answer the question(s) raised in the Thesis Statement, (b) the methods the student will use to gather that information, and (c) the strategies by which the student will organize and analyze the information in such a way as to reach and support a conclusion, to construct a sound argument. If the central problem has several facets, the student may need an array of different methods for collecting and analyzing information. Students should be as precise as possible in each stage of the methods statement: Is information needed about the stylistic techniques in a novel, about changes in the poverty rates in Kenya since independence, about the ways children think about nature? Will the student pull out the metaphors in a text, find government reports on household income, interview kids about their experiences in the woods? Will the student deploy statistical forms of content analysis, correlate poverty rates with political changes, interpret themes in children’s stories? Students should reflect on the broad methodological approaches that they propose to use, and cite sources from which they derive their methods and tools. A student's central goal is to demonstrate that they know how to go about answering the question(s) that have been raised. Please note that if students intend to conduct research on living people, they will need to get the approval of the University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects (UCAIHS). Before they apply for that approval, students will need to take a tutorial and pass a test on the various regulations. Refer to the  UCAIHS website  for more information.
  • Justification and Limitations This section of the proposal should explain the rationale for the thesis and the importance of the topic. Indicate the reasons why this study is important to conduct and whom it will benefit. Identify the limits beyond which the inquiry will not go. For instance, if a student is writing about a historical subject, the student must explain the relevance of the time period selected. Finally, describe the contribution the work will make to the field.
  • Conclusion This section should summarize the nature and intention of the student's work. Conclude the discussion and mention any pertinent information which may not have been included above.
  • Annotated Bibliography This section consists of a list of books and articles and artworks with accompanying annotations that explain why these readings and other sources are likely to be crucial as the work advances.

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Artistic Thesis Proposal

The artistic thesis consists of an artistic work and supporting essays, and it is important to conceive of each element as contributing to a coherent whole.  The proposal itself consists of five sections:

  • Concept Statement This section includes a brief introduction that forms the framework for the entire thesis and articulates the questions around which the creative project and supporting essays revolve.
  • Description of the Artistic Work and Artistic Aims This section describes the major artistic work that will comprise the submitted artistic thesis.  Students may want to refer to particular artistic influences or genres that will inform the work, or describe the aesthetic from which the creative work derives. In this section, students should also: refer to some of the artistic reasons that led to their decision to embark on this particular project; discuss the goals that will guide the development of the work; and provide concrete details about the final form and media of the work  (will it be, for example, a collection of short stories, a novel; an evening of dance an exhibition of paintings, a film, or what?).  If the artwork involves live performance, this section should state whether it will be a public or private event, where the event will be held, and any other details relevant to bringing the project to completion.

This section should provide the reader with relevant historical or critical information to place the central research question in context, and this section should also discuss the key theories, methods, and sources to be used within the research essay.  It should demonstrate that the student knows how to begin answering the question(s) they are posing.  What sorts of things will the student need to find out? What research methods will be used?  What kinds of sources will be reviewed, and how will information from them be used? Who, if anyone, will be interviewed, and what kinds of questions will the subjects be asked?  Students should also reflect, in this section, on the broad analytical approach that will structure their research and identify the school(s) of thought that will inform their investigations. 

  • Justification and Limitations This section should explain the importance of the student's work in the context of their particular artistic discipline and discuss how all components of the thesis project taken together as a single project will contribute to the scholarly and artistic fields with which it engages. This section should also discuss limitations, personal and practical, relating to the project and the student’s readiness.  If the project is a film, for example, how much direct experience has the student already had in that field, and how will the student allocate the time to finish the project by the desired defense date? How much is the project likely to cost, and how does the student expect to obtain funding?  What kind of spaces will be needed for rehearsal as well as presentation of the work? 

Project Thesis Proposal

The project thesis includes two major components: (a) an activity (program, intervention, campaign, etc.) designed to address (solve, remediate, improve) a problem, issue or opportunity in the student's domain as a professional or activist; and (b) a written document that describes, rationalizes, analyzes, and assesses the activity. It is not strictly a research study, but rather an exercise in reflective practice. Therefore, the proposal takes a form different from that of the research or artistic thesis proposal. Please note, as well, that a project thesis  must  be not only designed but implemented and evaluated.

  • Problem Statement This section of the proposal identifies, describes, and analyzes the problem (issue, need, opportunity) that the student will address in the project. Clearly articulate the nature of the problem: its historical, social and professional context; its dimensions and extent; its impact, and perhaps some previous efforts to address it. Present information that explains the student's understanding of the origins or causes of the problem, to set up the rationale for the choice of a strategy to solve it. At each stage, refer to appropriate scholarly and professional literatures.
  • Project Plan Students should spell out their plans for addressing the problem. Students should describe the institutional setting within which the project will take place, as well as the individuals, groups, or organizations with whom they will work. What will the student (and, perhaps, others) do? What resources and strategies will be used? If the student need funds, how will they be raised and disbursed? What schedule will be followed? Be efficient, but concrete and clear in specifying the activities that will make up the project. Identify the professional and theoretical sources of the strategies for the project: What precedents and ideas are the student drawing on? Also, the student should discuss the means by which they will record and report the project activities for the members of the thesis committee. Will the student write a journal, shoot videos, keep material artifacts and documents? Students must be clear about how they intend to document the project. They may also elect to invite the members of their committee to witness the project first-hand.
  • Assessment The proposal speaks to three aspects of the assessment process. In all three, students should be concrete and refer to appropriate literatures as sources of their plans. Criteria : First, students should describe and justify the criteria by which they will determine whether the project has succeeded. What are the goals and objectives? What changes does the student want to see in the participants, the organization, the larger world? Methods:  What information will be needed to determine whether the goals and objectives have been met? How will that information be collected and organized? Analysis : How will that information be utilized to describe the project’s success or failure? What sorts of lessons does the student hope to draw from the assessment?
  • Justification and Limitations This section of the proposal should explain the rationale for the thesis and the importance of the topic. Indicate the reasons why this study is important to conduct and whom it will benefit. Identify the limits beyond which the inquiry will not go. Finally, describe the contribution the work will make to the field.
  • Conclusion This section should summarize the nature and intention of the work. Conclude the discussion and mention any pertinent information which may not have been included above.

Format of the Proposal

All thesis proposals should conform to the following specifications:

  • Title Page The title should be reasonably succinct, but descriptive enough to convey the nature of the thesis; the title page should include your full name, the date of submission, and your adviser’s name.
  • Length The thesis proposal should be approximately 8 pages, excluding the annotated bibliography. Remember that this is a proposal, not the thesis itself; tell us what you propose to do and how, don’t do it.
  • Annotated Bibliography This bibliography should contain brief commentaries on no fewer than 10–15 relevant source works.

The Approval Process for the Thesis Proposal

The Thesis Proposal Seminar (TPS) Students write their thesis proposals while enrolled in the Thesis Proposal Seminar (CORE-GG 2401, a 2-credit core requirement offered every spring). Throughout that semester, students work closely with their Adviser and Instructor to draft an acceptable proposal. When the proposal has received approval from both the Thesis Proposal Seminar instructor (Gallatin reviewer) and the adviser, the student is allowed to move on to their thesis research. The three steps of the approval process are outlined below.

  • TPS Instructor/Reviewer Approval The Thesis Proposal Seminar instructor serves as the Gallatin reviewer of the thesis proposal. A student must receive a grade of ‘Pass’ in the Thesis Proposal Seminar for the proposal to be considered ‘reviewer approved.’ If the student’s proposal is not finished at the end of the semester, the student will receive a grade of 'Incomplete' in the course and will have until June 15th to submit the proposal before moving on to thesis research.
  • Adviser Approval Students work closely with their advisers over the course of the semester to produce a proposal that the adviser can approve. Once the adviser agrees that the proposal is ready, students submit their final proposal via the online Thesis Proposal submission form . The Thesis Proposal submission form allows students to provide Gallatin with additional information about the courses, internships, independent studies, jobs, and other experiences that have prepared the student for their thesis work.
  • MA Program Approval Once the M.A. Program verifies adviser approval of the proposal and the student has passed the TPS, the MA Program updates the student record to show that the Thesis Proposal requirement has been satisfied.

The deadline for submitting an adviser approved thesis proposal online is June 15.

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Siff Performance Thesis Grant

The SIFF M.A. performance thesis grant, established through the generosity of Gallatin master's alumna Karen Siff, is designed to help those graduate students who are writing a performance thesis with the costs associated with the production of their performances. Individual grants are awarded in amounts ranging from $750-$1000. 

Authorized expenses

Costs have traditionally included (but are not limited to) the renting of performance and rehearsal space, the use of film and video equipment, and other miscellaneous expenses incurred through the production of a performance piece. Students will receive the award in the form of reimbursement toward payments made ; therefore, it is essential that you retain and submit all necessary original receipts.

Application and review procedure

Eligibility is restricted to M.A. students whose thesis proposal have been approved by a Gallatin thesis reviewer. Once the proposal is approved, students may submit this grant application for consideration by The Gallatin Interdisciplinary Arts Committee. 

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  1. Thesis Proposal > Master's Thesis > Graduate

    In this section, the student will identify (a) the kinds of information that needed to answer the question (s) raised in the Thesis Statement, (b) the methods the student will use to gather that information, and (c) the strategies by which the student will organize and analyze the information in such a way as to reach and support a conclusion, t...

  2. Master's Thesis > Graduate > Academics

    Students begin to develop plans for the thesis in Thesis Proposal Seminar, a course taught by Gallatin faculty that focuses on writing a thesis proposal, usually taken in the second semester of the program.

  3. Thesis Proposal

    Thesis Proposal Home / Forms Library / Thesis Proposal You should use this form to submit your thesis proposal after it has been approved by your adviser. First Name Last Name NetID University ID Type of Thesis Thesis Proposal Seminar Instructor Thesis Title (Working Title) Expected Graduation Month Expected Graduation Year Adviser First Name

  4. Thesis Submission and Defense Process

    To submit the thesis to Gallatin and to the thesis committee, students should use the online Thesis Submission form. This form will send copies of the thesis to the adviser and to the second and third reader. At this stage, Gallatin will contact the adviser to confirm their approval of the thesis.

  5. Master's Thesis I Registration

    enrolled. Additional Gallatin Graduate Course (4 units) completed. enrolled. Thesis Proposal Seminar (2 units) completed. enrolled. Thesis Proposal Status. Please note that students who complete the Thesis Proposal Seminar in the Spring are required to submit the thesis proposal to Gallatin by June 15.

  6. Plan of Study, Graduate

    This form is intended for students who are planning to register for courses or credits during the upcoming semester. It is designed to help you and your adviser define your educational goals and to identify strategies for accomplishing them.

  7. PDF Individualized Study (MA)

    Additional Gallatin Graduate course 4 Thesis Proposal Seminar (Offered spring only. Must be completed after earning at least 12 credits and before earning 24 credits.) 2 Master's Thesis I 2 Master's Thesis II (Students defend the thesis in this semester.) 2 Electives 26 Total Credits 40 Each graduate student works closely with a faculty adviser ...

  8. Individualized Study (MA)

    Program Description Gallatin's Master of Arts program offers each student an opportunity to explore their unique interests. Working closely with a faculty adviser, the student creates an individualized, interdisciplinary program shaped according to their own vision.

  9. Thesis Proposal Seminar > Courses > Academics > NYU Gallatin

    NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study ... Thesis Proposal Seminar. Home / Academics / Courses / Thesis Proposal Seminar Semester and Year: SP 2023: Course Number: CORE-GG2401: Section: 002: Instructor: Jerome Whitington: Days: Tue : Time: 6:20 PM - 7:35 PM ...

  10. Frequently Asked Questions > Master's Thesis

    The thesis proposal form mentions a methods course. What is this? The methods course will likely not have the word "methods" in the title, but it is a course or independent study in which the student has studied the analytic approach taken in the thesis.

  11. PDF College of Education Office of the Dean M E M O R A N D U M

    A copy of the dissertation proposal is available in the Office of Graduate Support (EDU 320) for review by interested faculty members. Disability Accommodations If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate, please contact the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity at 813-974-4373 at least five (5) working days prior to the event.

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  14. Thesis Proposal Review

    Faculty members should use this form to review a thesis proposal. The form will forward the information to the M.A. program and to the student.

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  16. Independent Study Proposal Guidelines, Graduate

    After submitting the proposal form, the student should follow up with both their adviser and instructor to make sure their approvals have been sent to Gallatin. Once the completed independent study proposal has been submitted to, and reviewed by, the Gallatin Faculty Committee on Individualized Studies, the committee chair indicates final approval.

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  20. Master's Thesis > Graduate > Academics > NYU Gallatin

    Each graduate student in the Gallatin School completes a final thesis as the culmination of their work toward a Master of Arts degree. The thesis may take one of three forms: a research thesis, an artistic thesis, or a project thesis.

  21. Siff Performance Thesis Grant

    The SIFF M.A. performance thesis grant, established through the generosity of Gallatin master's alumna Karen Siff, is designed to help those graduate students who are writing a performance thesis with the costs associated with the production of their performances. Individual grants are awarded in amounts ranging from $750-$1000.

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  23. Core Courses > Curriculum > Graduate > Academics > NYU Gallatin

    Core Courses Home / Academics / Graduate / Curriculum / Core Courses Gallatin Graduate Curriculum - Core Courses All Gallatin graduate students* are required to take the following core courses: Proseminar Additional Gallatin Graduate Course Thesis Proposal Seminar Master's Thesis I Master's Thesis II

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