Thesis Preparation

Thesis Committee

Each student should obtain the support of the faculty through the selection of a Thesis Advisor and Committee. The Thesis Committee consists of three faculty members unless otherwise determined by the Director of Graduate Studies. One member of the Thesis Committee may be an approved faculty member outside of Fisk University. The student must receive permission for this individual to serve in this capacity.


Student Responsibility for the Completion of the Thesis in Psychology

The completion of a thesis can be a long, arduous process which requires discipline, determination and commitment to scholarship. From the initial conceptualization of the thesis idea, the student is encouraged to develop a sound time management plan.

For clinical psychology students who have a practicum requirement, it is strongly suggested that students commit the summer between their first and second years to the development of the thesis.

For part-time students, it is expected that it will take more than two years for the student to complete the program.


Suggested Timeline for Thesis Development in Psychology

Each graduate student is encouraged to develop a specific topic for the thesis during the first semester of matriculation. Within the Statistics course, students will be given the opportunity to review scholarly resources on a selected topic and develop a draft proposal on this topic. In consultation with the academic advisor, students are strongly suggested to choose a topic that can be developed into a thesis idea. Selection of a topic within the Statistics course that can evolve into a thesis topic is crucial, given that students will be required to present a Thesis Proposal to the entire faculty during the second semester of full-time matriculation.

The purpose of the Thesis Proposal is to present the topic and gain departmental approval for proceeding with the development and implementation of the thesis. Each student is required to demonstrate competency in the Thesis Orals. In order to maximize the learning experience and assist the student in successfully passing the Thesis Orals, the student is expected to participate in a Mock Oral. This process is designed to benefit the student and provide appropriate advisement for the student in the completion of the Thesis.

Activity Responsible Parties Deadline
Proposal Development Student Spring of 1st year
Selection of Thesis Committee Student and identified faculty No later than spring of 1st year
Proposal Meeting Student, Thesis Committee No later than end of spring sem., 1st year
Submission of proposal to IRB Student, Thesis Advisor W/in thirty days after successful proposal meeting
Data Collection Student Fall Semester of 2nd year
Approval of Chapters 1-3 Student, Thesis Committee By the end of fall semester of 2nd year
Submission of Forms for Graduation Student, Thesis Committee December 1
Data Analysis Student, Thesis Committee End of January of 2nd year
Completion of Thesis Draft Student, Thesis Committee March of 2nd year
Mock Orals Student March
Orals Student April
Approved Thesis Student April


Suggested Outline for the Thesis in Psychology

Thesis Abstract

The Thesis Abstract is used by the Psychology Graduate Program for the thesis is a document that combines characteristics of the usual journal abstract and the formats of the Psychology Thesis format-Thesis Proposal. The Abstract is prepared to be given to persons who serve as Examiners for master's oral examinations, in lieu of providing each Examiner with a copy of the entire thesis. For that reason, the Abstract is usually longer than the usual abstract, but includes the same components.

The Abstract should be single-spaced and should be printed or typed on one side of the paper only. Sections to be included in the Abstract are almost identical to those specified. for the thesis, and are as follows:


The Introduction should include a brief statement of the background of your problem, ending with a specific statement of the problem, hypotheses and/or research questions, and a brief statement on the importance of the study. Assumptions and definitions should also be included, in the same order as in the Thesis, if they are integral to understanding of the study.

Summary of Related Literature

This summary should be a condensed presentation of Chapter II of the thesis.


The Method section describes in brief the salient elements of the method used in the study including subjects, data/instruments/apparatus and procedures.


All results should be stated briefly here in a similar manner as in the thesis.

Discussion and Interpretation

The Discussion and Interpretation section is a condensed version of Chapter V of the thesis and any conclusions.

Selected References

Selected references refer to the list of only those references cited in the Abstract, not the complete list of references that appear in the thesis.

Helpful Hints

  1. The Abstract is supposed to give persons who have not read the thesis a clear idea of the main objectives and goals of the thesis. If the thesis is well written, there will be good paragraphs in it that can be pulled out (sometimes with only minor modifications) to form much of the Abstract.
  2. The Abstract is not the same as the thesis Summary and Conclusions chapter. Although both documents will share some elements in common, they are put together differently.
  3. The section on literature can often be pulled together from the summary section in Chapter II of the thesis, by inserting references in appropriate places.
  4. It is usually desirable to include a Results summary table in the Abstract. This will involve finding a way to combine your results into a single Table if possible. Or you may wish to include only those results which clearly demonstrate the core findings within the research investigation. A figure or graph may also be included and should be if it will enhance clarity. Each candidate must decide how best to illustrate results without presenting each Table of results in its entirety.
  5. Since sub-headings are not recommended for the Abstract, the narrative must integrate the appropriate sub-sections within the major headings.
  6. When you have completed your Abstract, let someone who is not familiar with your study read it (even before you show it to your advisor) to see if it is clear to that person. You want to clearly communicate what you did in your study, how you conducted your study, what you found in your investigation and the meaning of your results and findings. If it is clear, then it is likely that you have produced a satisfactory Abstract.
  7. Individual abstracts may or may not require an Appendix. If you have used a test instrument that is relatively unknown, you may wish to append a copy of it. This should be discussed with your advisor. If you do have an Appendix, it should follow the references.
  8. No-specific guidelines are prescribed for the length of the Abstract. Studies that have few hypothesis and simple designs do not require as long an abstract as studies that have many hypotheses and more complex designs.