Master’s Project Guide
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
The following sections must be included the project proposal:
- Definition and description of the research question or purpose
- Detailed literature review
- Proposed methodology (e.g., research design, data collection methods)
- Expected results from the study and value to the field of planning
- Preliminary reference list
- Timetable for completion
- 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.
Masters projects are maintained on file by the department as a permanent record of the student’s work. They may be used by the faculty after students graduate as evidence of their professional interests, analytical capacities, and writing abilities for letters of recommendation.
Students will be asked their permission to allow their work to be part of the University Library online Institutional Repository. The library has a royalty-free license to reproduce, distribute, publish and publicly display students Master’s Paper in a searchable, online database available to students, faculty, and other researchers. The student maintains copyright to their work. This service is provided free of charge to students.