Proposal Requirements

Project or Thesis?

Whether project or thesis, the Interdisciplinary Studies capstone research experience should reflect students’ mastery of relevant subjects and skills in their course work, experiential learning opportunities, and research.

A thesis involves a lengthy piece of formal writing that makes an original contribution to knowledge based on the collection of original data. Students interested in pursuing a PhD should seriously consider the thesis option.

If the medium of a traditional thesis is not an appropriate fit, the project option enables students to produce a non-traditional deliverable. Interdisciplinary Studies projects can be:

  • A traditional research monograph that makes an original contribution to knowledge, but is smaller in scale than a thesis and/or does not rely on the collection of original data.
  • An original deliverable with a practical application, such as a curriculum, an exhibit design, a technical manual, a business plan, or a computer model.
  • An original creative work, such as a documentary film, a fictional film, or a script.

A project should not be regarded as “easier” than doing a thesis, because both projects and theses have to make an original contribution, and the same quality of work is required. Also, even projects with non-traditional deliverables will involve a significant amount of writing.

Proposal Elements

All Interdisciplinary Studies proposals, for both projects and theses, include the following elements:

  • A statement of the problem to be addressed.
  • A review of relevant literature to establish the need for and the originality of the proposed research.
  • A discussion of the proposed methodology or decision-making process.
  • A discussion of the expected significance of the results.
  • A timeline of work.
  • A bibliography or reference list.


Resources: Project/Thesis Guidelines by Concentration