Every MES student completes a thesis during their final year. By completing a thesis, you’ll demonstrate knowledge and technical skills while developing your project management abilities.
Even if you don’t continue with research professionally, completing a thesis will demonstrate to future employers your ability to analyze and communicate research in your chosen field, as well as manage large projects.
Elements of a Thesis Project
A master’s thesis is a work of original research where you develop and then answer a question related to your areas of interest.
- Develop a thesis topic and question to answer.
- Complete a literature review to find related research.
- Design a study to answer the question.
- Gather data: quantitative, qualitative, or both.
- Analyze and interpret the data.
- Communicate the results.
This process typically begins in the fall of your final year, when you take Case Studies and Thesis Design. As part of that program, you'll develop a research question, complete a literature review, and design your study. You will also be matched with a thesis advisor.
Some students choose to begin collecting data over the summer before taking Case Studies in their final year. Students who choose this route must complete a Mini-Prospectus and get approval from an MES core faculty member prior to collecting data.
Then in winter and spring, you’ll complete your research and analysis. This culminates with a presentation during spring quarter. Your thesis will also be published and added to the college’s library.
Developing a Thesis Topic
Developing a good thesis question is itself a valuable process. A good project is interesting, relevant, and feasible — it's neither too broad nor too narrow.
You don’t need to know your thesis topic when you start MES. Your first year of the program can help you figure out what topics are interesting to you or give you ideas of questions that need answering.
You can talk to faculty with similar interests: they may know of interesting problems or have a good idea of what fits with your background and experience.
MES also hosts a thesis idea fair each fall. State agency and non-governmental organization representatives bring handouts with questions that they need answered. Sometimes they even have the data you’ll need for your thesis.
Many of our students figure out their theses while interning, and get support from these organizations while doing their research.
- Past MES Theses - The Evergreen Institutional Repository lists all MES theses, alphabetical by title. Most theses written after 2006 can be accessed as PDF files.
- MES Faculty Directory - Don't forget to talk to MES faculty to help you with your brainstorming. You may also want to talk to non-MES faculty in your interest area. Remember that only MES core faculty can be thesis readers.
Finding a Thesis Advisor
During the fall of your final year, you’ll rank three faculty members who you want to work with. Then the faculty as a whole will look through all of the requests and figure out how to best support all of the thesis students.
By the time you’re ready to start work on your thesis, you’ll have met and worked with the core MES faculty. You’ll have a good sense of who has related interests and who you work well with.
You don’t need to know who your advisor will be before you start MES. Because you'll have them as a teacher, your advisor will be someone you know and can work with productively.