Optional Thesis

Optional Academic Thesis (For MPA 2nd Year Students)

DPP MPA students may undertake an independent in-depth research project in the Spring term of the second year. This entails a 12,000-word thesis, submitted in June (see below for exact date) and worth 4-credits. The thesis is an optional component of the MPA program and is a major undertaking. MPA students must, therefore, meet the requirements set out by DPP to proceed to thesis writing.  

In short, students must attain the minimum required GPA of 3.5 by the thesis title and research question submission deadline , and evidence their ability to pursue autonomous, independent research through submission of a quality thesis proposal and evidence of feasibility of completion (including submission of a workplan) 

It is important that students have a clear understanding of both why they are doing the thesis, and how it will fit it into their schedule. The thesis is considerable extra work and some students in the past have unfortunately underestimated this, resulting in poorer performance in the capstone APP and/or coursework (with resulting lower graduating GPA) and/or non-completion of the thesis. Priority is required to be given to the APP and students need therefore to give proper consideration to the time needed for the APP in the Winter and Spring Terms when deciding whether to take on the thesis.  

It is also important to us that students’ work results in a good thesis that can be a basis for their goal of a published academic article and/or a strong PhD application. To produce a thesis of this quality requires time and energy. MPA students are strongly advised to read examples of MAPP and MPA theses so that they fully understand the scale of the undertaking. 

It is strongly emphasized that the Applied Policy Project, and not an academic thesis, is the capstone of the MPAand priority must be given to the work required for the APP.  

Eligibility Criteria

Students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.5 by the thesis title and research question submission deadline (See Appendix A) in order to be eligible to submit a proposal to write a master’s thesis 

Once they have the minimum GPA, students must then get approval from the MPA Program  Director, based on her/his assessment of the proposal against the evaluation criteria


All necessary thesis proposal documentation (see Appendix B and C) must be submitted by the deadlines outlined in Appendix A to the Student Affairs Coordinator in hard and soft-copy.  

Thesis Proposal Review Committee and Evaluation Criteria

  • The Programme Director will evaluate thesis proposals on the basis of the following operations:
  • Quality of the proposalThematic and theoretical quality of the undertaking (hypothesis and research questions) including the selection and suitability of research method(s). Purpose & feasibility of completion: This should be evidenced by way of separate written  note to the Programme Director, in addition to the thesis proposal itself, with the student’s name, and the thesis title, setting out: Relevance to the thesis to the Student's future plans (in 1-2 paragraphs, explain why you wish to do the thesis, and for what purpose). 
  • The submission of an outline work-plan in table format covering January to June. This should set out the timeframe when the thesis will be researched and writtenIt must include the student’s other commitments: your Winter and Spring Term courses, as well as any planned employment/internships, and key dates for major stages of the student's APP (e.g data collection, writing up). The aim of this workplan is to show that students have sufficient time in their schedule to research and write the thesis and have planned when they will undertake the research, data collection, have a draft ready for their supervisor. etc
  • The combined assessment of these two considerations, based on the submitted thesis proposal and separate note on relevance and the accompanying work-plan, will determine whether the student is approved to write a master’s thesis.  

Please note: Materials used for the APP cannot directly be used in the thesis and vice-versa. A student who is allowed to pass to thesis writing must sign a disclaimer to this effect.  

Mandatory Coursework

Students who intend to submit a thesis proposal must enroll in the Thesis Workshop course scheduled in the Winter/Spring Term. These sessions help prepare students to write the thesis proposal and begin the initial stages of research and thesis writing preparation.  

Students writing the thesis must also attend the Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) sessions led by the CEU Computer and Statistics Center in SpringEach session is about 90 minutes and students will learn how to structure and format thesis in MSWord and upload the final version of the thesis to the ETD database. 

Thesis Supervision

The thesis supervisor must be from DPP faculty. Supervisors will be confirmed after the thesis proposal is approved. The role of the thesis supervisor is to be open to students for consultations starting in the Spring Term. She/he provides feedback on the draft if the student provides sufficient time to do so. Given that the MPA optional thesis is an autonomous undertaking, students are expected to write thesis with minimal faculty supervision.  

Thesis Submission, Evaluation, and Grading

Students submitting theses must follow the CEU Thesis Guidelines and students need to work with the Center for Academic Writing to ensure submitted theses conform to these guidelines. All students submitting the thesis must submit the Declaration of Authorship form (See Appendix F) upon submission.  

The student’s assigned thesis supervisor is responsible for reviewing and grading the student’s final thesis. The Thesis Evaluation form including the final grade and feedback will be provided within 6 weeks of the submission date. The final thesis will be graded in line with the relevant thesis grading rubric, with due regard for CEU’s Policy on Plagiarism. Those students successfully submitting and completing the thesis will be awarded four credits and the thesis will be noted on the transcript. 

Important notice:

  • Students must plan their Winter Term course load incorporating the Academic Writing course and with due consideration for the workload required for the thesis research and writing 
  • Writing a thesis is not a valid reason for missing any mandatory, gateway or elective Spring Term courses. Students approved to write a thesis must ensure Academic Writing classes do not overlap with mandatory components of the MPA program (i.e SFI). 
  • Writing a thesis must not detract from the performance of their Applied Policy Project team. All APP faculty advisers will be informed of those students undertaking a thesis. Failure to contribute fully to individual and team work on the APP will impact the individual student’s final grade for the APP. 
  • Late submission results in 0.1 point grade deduction per business day.

Thesis Funding
No funding is available for students writing the optional academic thesis.

MPA Timeline including mandatory APP and SFI timeframes, Optional thesis