How to Get Started with Your Thesis: Paperwork First!

By Kate Broderick, Global Strategic Communication ’13

You’ve made it to the end of your degree in Global Strategic Communication at Florida Tech. You have mastered the fields of mass communication, communication theory, global communication, crisis communication, brand development, and visual communication. You are ready to put the final feather in your academic cap by completing your thesis. You’ve brainstormed over your intended subject and are finally ready to get started researching, right?

Wrong. Unfortunately, before you can begin, you need to take care of some official procedural steps—nothing too hard, don’t worry! While it may seem annoying, the steps are here to ensure that you will have a game plan and alert the faculty of the department of Humanities and Communication that you are about to embark on the thesis-writing journey, in order to ensure you have the full support system in place to be successful. You should do this the semester before you intend to start writing your thesis.

First, you need to establish your Thesis Committee. Your thesis committee is comprised of two faculty members from the department of Humanities and Communication and one professor from another graduate school at Florida Tech. You will have to decide on who your Committee Chair will be from the in-department faculty members. The Committee Chair is sometimes referred to as your Thesis Advisor.

As with selecting your topic, you must be strategic regarding your choice of Committee Chair. You are writing your thesis at the tail-end of your degree in Communication; therefore, you have years of experience working with different professors. You must be mindful of two key elements:

  1. How closely do your research interests match? While it is not a deal-breaker if you have are exploring a concept out of their particular expertise, it is generally to your benefit to choose a professor that has experience researching in your particular field. For example, if your thesis is concerning mass communication and social media, working with your professors from the courses Mass Communication or New Media and Strategic Communication would be a logical match.
  2. How well do you work with the particular professor? You have to be brutally honest with yourself—don’t choose a professor because you think they might be an easier choice. You want to pick a professor that you know will give you constructive criticism regarding your work without pulling any punches. You are going to be grilled over your thesis when you have to defend it (more about that later!)—you want to be prepared in order to create the strongest body of work possible.

I’ve only taken graduate classes in communication with the department of Humanities and Communication—I had no idea how to go about choosing the required faculty from another department at Florida Tech! Don’t panic! Your Committee Chair can help you pick the out-of-department member.

Now that you have your members selected, you need to make it official! You must complete the “Establishment of Master’s or Specialist Committee” form, available from the Humanities and Communication office or online here. Once you have it signed, submit it to the Office of Graduate Programs on the third floor of Crawford.

Congratulations! It’s official: you are on your way to completing your thesis!

Stay tuned for the next post: How to Write a Thesis Proposal.

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