A thesis is not required, although students may wish to undertake a major piece of policy-related research while in the School. The completion of such an effort may be helpful in gaining desired employment, or for continuing graduate work at the doctoral level. The thesis, if done well, will be an example of research capabilities, writing abilities, and analytical skills.

Coursework requirements for thesis students are identical to those for all other students: completion of core coursework (23 credit hours), development of an area of concentration (9 credit hours), completion of a capstone, and completion of 50 credit hours total. Of the 9 units necessary for a concentration, up to 3 units may be Readings (URP:6305). Remaining units for the 50 total hours are combinations of elective courses, Readings, and Thesis (URP:6325). In all cases, a maximum of 8 credit hours of Readings may be used toward the degree requirements and a maximum of 6 credit hours can be Thesis (URP:6325) units.

Under the above curriculum arrangement, a student may use up to 14 credit hours (8 in directed readings and 6 in thesis hours) for research and writing a thesis. However, a student is encouraged to use elective units to broaden his or her coursework experiences by completing at least one course in a somewhat different field than those of the thesis and area of concentration.

The thesis examination (oral defense) will substitute for the School's final oral exam.