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  • Center for Achievement in Psychological Science
  • Students from Dr. Otten's Lab
  • Psychology Department Faculty Fall 2017

    Your Psychology Faculty


PLEASE NOTE: This is a rough outline of the thesis process. Every thesis project and every committee is different, and therefore, every thesis process is tailored to the needs of the particular project and student. 

The Thesis Process

  • Download "Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses and Graduate Projects". This file is also available in a Word document form; see Graduate Studies.
  • Develop a thesis idea rooted in research. Write a short proposal. This should include: What the experiment will address, why it is an important area to study, and how you intend to study it.
  • Secure a chairperson for your thesis committee by submitting your short proposal for their review, and setting up a meeting with them to discuss it.
  • Once you've secured a chairperson, secure your other two committee members in the same manner.
  • When you have chosen all members of your thesis committee, file the Thesis Project and Planning Form with the Psychology Dept (available in the Psychology office).
  • Before running your experiment, you must be approved by the Human Subjects Review Board, so file your Human Subjects Protocol Approval Form early while you are working on your formal proposal. Keep track of the review board submission deadlines and meeting dates. A few suggestions on these forms:Write a formal proposal (this usually includes the Introduction and Methods sections in APA format). Your thesis committee may ask you to conduct a pilot study to refine your experimental design and perfect your formal proposal.
    • You will be asked to give dates of your experiment. Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete the study, or you will have to file for an extension.
    • You will be asked for the total number of participants. Include participants for your pilot study and your full thesis study. You may want to consult your thesis chairperson or committee members for input on determining the number of participants you'll need.
    • If you have a question about filling out the forms, consult Research Coordinator Dan Meador.
  • When your formal proposal is ready, in consultation with your chairperson, distribute your formal proposal to your full thesis committee and schedule a proposal meeting with your committee.
  • Once you've received approval from your committee and the Human Subjects Review Board, you may run your experiment. Be sure to follow all psychology dept. experimental procedures outlined in the Researcher's Information Packet. (Many research forms can be found on this site, click here to access all forms.) Consult Research Coordinator DanMeador throughout your study, as needed.
  • In consultation with your chairperson, analyze your data and write the remainder of your paper. This is usually an iterative process. You may be asked to submit one section at a time, making changes as you go.
  • In consultation with your chairperson, distribute the final paper and schedule an oral defense presentation.
  • Make the final changes to your thesis and submit the paper to your chairperson. Obtain signatures from your committee on the"Thesis Signature Page" of your thesis (100% cotton).
  • Schedule a meeting with your Graduate Evaluator to check the format of your paper (818-677-4800). You should also ask your evaluator to check your file to make sure everything is in order during this meeting.
  • Make format changes and submit original and copies of your thesis to Graduate Studies along with binding fees by the thesis deadline for the semester (see Graduate Studies).
  • Contact your chairperson to make sure that your thesis grade has been converted on your transcript.