The Master's Thesis

The master’s thesis is designed to provide a structured research experience of limited scope that covers the main elements of research, including selecting a research problem, reviewing current knowledge in the field, generating hypotheses or key points that require exploration, examining these hypotheses or key points with evidence, and drawing conclusions. The scope, structure, quality, and tone of a master’s thesis should resemble a published paper in a major sociology journal. However, the master’s thesis usually contains a more extensive literature review and a more detailed discussion of methodology than would a typical journal article (typically 30-35 pages of text, along with a modest number of tables, figures, and references). For some areas of research the paper may need to be longer but ordinarily should not exceed 50-60 pages of text. The department’s preferred citation style for master’s papers is the American Sociological Association Style Citations. 

The master’s thesis must be approved by a committee that consists of two faculty members in the Department of Sociology selected by the student, one of whom serves as the supervisor of the paper and the second as the reader. With prior permission from the Graduate Committee, the second reader may have a faculty appointment in another department at Brown. The primary thesis advisor must be selected by the end of the second semester of graduate study, with the reader chosen by the beginning of the fourth semester (end of January of the second year) at the latest. A final draft of the paper must be submitted to the thesis committee by the end of February in semester four of graduate study (the second year). By April 15, a final approved PDF version that includes the scanned signature page from the thesis advisor must be submitted to the student affairs coordinator. April 15 is a hard internal deadline, and failure to meet these deadlines may jeopardize consideration for good standing. If the April 15 falls during a Saturday or Sunday, the final approved copy will be due the following Monday. The departmental copy due on April 15 must be identical to the copy turned into the Graduate School on May 1.

By May 1 students must submit the electronic file, including the signature page, through Brown’s electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) system.

For more information on the Graduate School thesis guidelines, visit: