DePaul University College of Communication > Academics > Graduate Programs > Relational Communication (MA) > Complete Your Degree > Master's Thesis

Master's Thesis


A thesis option is available to students holding a cumulative GPA of 3.85 or higher upon completing 24 credit hours (six courses) in their graduate program.

A student who does not meet the 3.85 GPA requirement may petition to write a thesis by submitting two letters of recommendation from faculty members with whom they have taken classes. The graduate program director will review the letters and decide whether the student is eligible to pursue the thesis option.


Writing a thesis allows you to research and study a topic in depth and produce original academic work. It establishes you as an expert in the area of communication studies. It helps you with your application for PhD programs and serves as a basis for future publications.

Thesis Timeline

Students are advised to begin work on their thesis 9-12 months prior to the time they hope to complete/defend their thesis.

Procedure for Thesis

1. Choose a topic that interests you.

2. Choose two full-time faculty members in the program who could best guide you on your intended topic and talk to them. They can help you develop your ideas and indicate their ability and willingness to serve on your committee. One faculty member must agree to serve as the thesis advisor. You may also select a third committee member from the DePaul community, or elsewhere, with approval from the two committee members.

3. Once your topic has been approved by your thesis advisor, you complete the Thesis/Project Approval Form​. The thesis advisor and graduate program director must sign the form before you submit it to the graduate advisor.

4. Your next task is writing a thesis proposal. Once the proposal has been accepted by the committee, you continue to work on the thesis as specified in the proposal and provide chapters to your committee members for approval. You will be in regular contact with your committee members and they will advise you at each step of the process. Thesis advisors should respond to graduate student submissions within a reasonable time period. No more than two weeks should be taken to review each thesis chapter submitted for consideration. Following this timeline will ensure timely thesis and program completion.

5. You will enroll in the 4-credit hour course RELC 599 Research Thesis in the quarter you plan to complete and defend your thesis. You do not receive a letter grade in RELC 599 until you have successfully completed and defended the thesis.

6. Defend your thesis when it is complete. You will print the Thesis/Project Defense Form​ and bring it to the defense. After a successful defense, the thesis advisor will sign the form and submit it to the graduate advisor. Please note that you may be required to do a few additions or minor modifications to your thesis after the defense. Your thesis advisor will submit your RELC 599 grade.

7. When the thesis has been approved by the committee, the student must submit to the graduate advisor a final PDF version of the thesis, the signed Defense Form, a completed Author Submission Agreement Form​ and a completed Abstract and Keyword Form​. The graduate advisor will arrange for the electronic archival of your thesis with the university library.

Please note: If a student does not make significant progress towards the writing, research and completion of the thesis, the student's committee has the authority to determine if the student is allowed to continue with the thesis. If the committee decides to discontinue the thesis, the student must take the comprehensive exam and enroll in a 12th course to fulfill the degree completion requirement.

Thesis Proposal Requirements

Your thesis proposal should have four components:

I. Introduction
The introduction should provide adequate discussion of the following:

  • Statement of the Problem. Why is there a need to do research on the topic? How is the problem typically viewed by communication scholars and the general public? What is the historical context of the problem?
  • Significance of the Study. Why is your study important? In what way will your study contribute to new knowledge in the communication discipline?
  • Specific Purpose. What is the main focus of your study? What is your rationale for choosing this area of study? What are your research questions?
  • An overview of the theoretical framework and methodology you would use to address the research questions

II. Review of the Literature
In this section, you will review relevant theoretical frameworks and cover bodies of theories and research that provide up-to-date information on the research topic. You should interpret and critique the existing theories/research and provide a rationale of how your study will fill the gap on the understanding of the research topic.

III. Methodology
This section informs the reader how you will execute your study. You should review the relevant methodology (e.g. quantitative, qualitative, ethnographic study, historical, rhetorical, content analysis, case studies) and provide a rationale of why your chosen method is appropriate for answering the research questions. You will also provide a description of the procedure such as data gathering, sampling information, steps to complete the study and measurement information.

IV. Outline, timeline, and a working bibliography
Provide a tentative table of contents and a timeline of completion. Attach a working bibliography.

Major Components of Thesis

Each MA thesis is unique but all share several common features. The following is a general outline of a thesis. Your thesis advisor will give you specific instructions on details and may modify the components to suit your research topic.

Chapter 1: Purpose and Significance of the Study
Chapter 2: Review of the Literature
Chapter 3: Methodology
Chapter 4: Findings
Chapter 5: Discussion
Chapter 6: Conclusion and Implications