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The Master’s Project (MP) serves to demonstrate the student’s capabilities and readiness for professional practice by requiring a final project of professional quality. It is original work, involving a substantial degree of independent research and analysis.  The product is expected to have considerably more substance than the typical term paper, though it may expand on a paper or other work done in a course or on a research assistantship, be related to an internship job, or be an original project.  Part of the Master’s project work may be done as part of an independent study course taken in the student’s third semester, generally the fall semester of the second year.

The Master’s project may be a research paper, a critical essay, an extensive case study, or a development and evaluation of a program, project, or plan.  The requirement is ordinarily met by a word-processed paper with text supported by tables, charts, and references, and supplemented by a bibliography; however, the requirement can also be met by an original piece of work in some other form, such as a plan, an audiovisual presentation, or a computer program.

In the majority of cases, the student submits an individually-prepared Master’s project.  In exceptional cases, students may request permission to submit a jointly-prepared Master’s project.  The faculty is authorized to approve requests for joint preparation and to set such special standards as may be required for such projects.


Detailed Master’s Project Timeline

September 26thProposals due @ 5pm. Student turns in proposal w/ cover sheet.
October 10thFaculty complete review of MP proposals. Reviewed MP proposals due from Faculty to SSM.
DecemberSSM enrolls students in MP credits w/appropriate advisor.
February 5thFirst MP draft due to advisor. Student turns in first MP draft to advisor.
March 3rdFirst round of feedback to advisee. Deadline for faculty to give feedback to students on 1st draft.
March 17thRevised MP draft due to advisor
March 24thSecond round of feedback due to advisee
April 7thFinal MP due (signed cover sheet)


Full proposals are due in September, however, if a student will be interacting with Human Subjects and the MP research requires IRB approval, the student must check in with faculty MP Advisor to approve the proposed project BEFORE submission of IRB applications.

The following sections must be included with the project proposal:

  1. Definition and description of the research question or purpose
  2. Detailed literature review
  3. Proposed methodology (e.g., research design, data collection methods)
  4. Expected results from the study and value to the field of planning
  5. Preliminary reference list
  6. Timetable for completion
  7. An outline of the project to aid review by specialization faculty

Note on Literature Reviews: The goal of this requirement is to ensure that students understand where their project fits within the literature, existing evidence, and planning practice. The literature review may include an annotated bibliography but must also take the next step of synthesizing the annotations and nesting the project in the body of work contained in the bibliographic material. This will allow the faculty readers to identify glaring gaps and omissions and to more easily understand the source and direction of the project. In terms of length, two to three pages should serve most students’ needs.

The faculty members in the student’s specialization are responsible for reviewing the student proposals in their area and communicating their feedback to the student.  The faculty group will approve the topic, method and the outline, usually with modifications, and assign a master’s project advisor.  The MP advisor will approve a draft and receive the completed project.  In addition, the student may select and obtain the consent of a second faculty member to serve as a reader who would review both the draft and the completed product.

Students must upload their final MP to the University Library’s Digital Repository.  The student maintains copyright to their work, but the library has a royalty-free license to reproduce, distribute, publish and publicly display MPs in a searchable, online database available to students, faculty, and other researchers.

Masters projects may be used by the faculty after students graduate as evidence of their professional interests, analytical capacities, and writing abilities for letters of recommendation.