Thesis Guidelines


Thesis Cycle Thesis Proposal Thesis Supervisor Selection Feedback on Thesis Work 

Thesis Defense Deadlines for Drafts and Defense Thesis Defense Evaluation

Formalizing Feedback on Thesis Work


  • A thesis proposal must be prepared and submitted by the student. This is to be reviewed within the program and feedback provided to the student for finalization

  • The student is to identify and agree with a faculty member to be his/her thesis supervisor. More than one supervisor is possible (co-supervisors). The program director is to be informed of this

  • The student finalizes the thesis proposal

  • The student obtains IRB approval if applicable

  • The student embarks on the thesis work under the guidance of the supervisor(s)

  • During the course of conducting the thesis work, the student together with his/her supervisor(s) identify and agree with faculty members to act as readers (one and two) (in case of SSE disciplines this occurs when a thesis draft is ready)

  • A thesis draft is produced and shared with the readers/examiners

  • Readers provide feedback to the student and the supervisor(s) on the thesis draft

  • The student under the guidance of the supervisor(s) addresses this feedback, producing a final thesis draft for the defense

  • The defense takes place

  • Final comments and feedback are provided to the student

  • The student updates the final thesis draft into the final thesis

  • The updated thesis copy is reviewed either by the supervisor and/or readers/examiners (depending on what was agreed on during the defense), either accepting the thesis or still requesting updates

  • Once the updated thesis is approved, the thesis can then be officially submitted by the student

  1. The thesis proposal is required from all programs with a thesis required for degree completion

  2. The thesis proposal is either:

    1. Part of a course (Seminar or Research methodology) and required to be finalized within the course

    2. Not in a course

In case the thesis proposal is not a requirement in a course (as is the case in a number of programs), then students would still be allowed to register for the thesis credits for the first time even if a proposal is not finalized and approved. However, students will not be allowed to register the second time in the thesis credits without a proposal. In this respect, thesis credits will only be registered by program administrative assistants, and will not be available for online self-registration by students.

  1. The deadline for submitting the thesis proposal during the course of study of a graduate student is to be determined by the number of credits. This is useful to have an indication to students about their timely progress towards completing a thesis proposal.

  • A minimum and maximum numbers of credits are to be used in this regard:

    • The minimum number of credits before which a graduate student cannot submit a thesis proposal is 9 credits. Programs can set a higher limit than this if they deem necessary.

    • The maximum number of credits beyond which a graduate student should have developed a thesis proposal is 21 credit programs can set a lower limit than this if they deem necessary

  1. Thesis proposal contents:

Essential contents are:

  • Literature review

  • Research question(s)

  • Proposed methodology/plan of work

  • Bibliography

Additional specific components can be required by specific programs please refer to your departments for additional requirements” such as:

  • Conceptual framework

  • Fieldwork or needed materials (library resources, documents, data, and others)

  • Location of the conduct of the research

  • Significance

  • Timeline

  1. Thesis Proposal approval:

  • Thesis proposal needs to be approved through a consultation process with a number of members within the program and/or affiliated with the program

  • A student is able to carry out changes to his/her work, with supervisor approval, as needs arise without having to resubmit a new proposal if such changes fall within the overall aim and scope of the proposal

  • If on the other hand, the changes are to the aim and scope of work such that the approved proposal is no longer valid, a new proposal with the new aim, scope of work and plan of work is to be submitted for review, assessment and approval

  • For the review of thesis proposals regarding patentable processes or products, the reviewers will need to sign a non-disclosure form. The thesis supervisor will identify this need

The choice of a thesis supervisor can be carried out before or after the preparation of the proposal, depending on the discipline. Each graduate program can make this decision. Some disciplines will need to have a thesis supervisor identified for the development of the proposal, while others would not.

  1. The thesis supervisor is to be chosen by a mutual agreement between the student and the faculty member, with notification of the graduate program director

The supervisor should be competent in the topic of student’s interest

  1. The student and thesis supervisor identify one of the readers/examiners with the approval of the program director

The second reader/examiner is either identified by the student or thesis supervisor with the approval of the program director or assigned by the program

One of the readers can be from outside the program or AUC

The readers/examiners must be from a related/close field of expertise to the thesis work

N.B.: In case of programs/Centers without dedicated faculty members – assigned for the program, the supervisor, as well as the readers, can be from other departments.

  • Program Directors must be officially informed of the thesis supervisor for a student as well as the thesis readers/examiners. This is crucial in order to allow the Program Director to intervene in case of conflict between student and thesis supervisor, and in case of a need of a substitute thesis supervisor.

  • The thesis supervisor, as well as one of the readers/examiners, must be a full-time faculty member at AUC. Only one reader/examiner can be an external faculty member

  • A student can have more than one supervisor, especially in interdisciplinary programs where the thesis topic might need expertise from different disciplines. In this case, the co-supervisor can be from AUC (full time or adjunct faculty member) or outside AUC

In this respect, the thesis would still need to have two readers/examiners in addition to the supervisor and co-supervisor.

  • The thesis supervisor must be a full-time faculty at AUC. If this supervisor left, an alternative supervisor must be found by the student and could be one of the readers (provided he/she is a full-time faculty at AUC). In case of the latter situation, a new reader for the thesis is to be identified. The faculty member who left AUC could still be involved in the thesis supervision as a co-supervisor.

  • The choice of thesis supervisor is by mutual agreement between the student and the faculty member. The possible choice of a co-supervisor is conducted by mutual agreement of the student and the main supervisor.

  • The student may/may not play a role in the selection of readers/examiners. This is left to the procedures of individual programs.

  • In case a student changes supervisors, this would be documented on Banner – Form

  1. During the process of thesis work and thesis writing, the student works closely with the thesis supervisor(s), who provide(s) guidance and feedback on the work

This process will result in a thesis draft.

The supervisor (and where applicable, the co-supervisor) is to have the leading role in guiding the thesis work

It is the thesis supervisor’s responsibility to channel all the feedback on the thesis (from the readers and the supervisor(s)) and agree with the readers on how this feedback would be addressed by the student. If any disagreement arises between the readers and the supervisor(s) in this regard, this should be discussed and addressed before being relayed to the student. This is in order to ensure that no conflicting feedback from the different entities involved is given to the student.

  1. The thesis draft can then be shared with the readers, who would provide feedback on the draft, for the student to take into account for the finalization of the thesis and the defense

  2. Feedback provided by the readers must be shared with the student supervisor, who must agree with the feedback, and who follows up on the student in addressing this feedback.

Readers’ only review and give feedback when a draft is finalized (not at the start of the work…. If this is needed, then the reader should be a co-supervisor)

  1. The thesis defense will be conducted with the student presenting his/her work and a finalized thesis to the supervisor(s) and the two readers

  2. Final feedback is provided to the student with possible amendments to the thesis, which he/she would then update and finalize.

  3. In some disciplines (typically sciences and engineering) the readers are referred to as examiners, and their involvement in providing feedback on the thesis takes place during the thesis defense

A thesis defense is obligatory for all graduate programs with a thesis requirement.

The thesis defense should consist of:

  1. Open defense, at least to members of the program/department

  2. Oral structured presentation

  3. Committee’s discussion with the student for a final assessment

All graduate programs with thesis requirements must have a thesis defense. It should be at least open to members of the department. It may entail an oral presentation or powerpoint presentation along with a discussion with the supervisor(s) and readers/examiners.

  1. The defense must be conducted at least two weeks before the deadline for final thesis submission set by the Registrar

  2. The thesis draft should be submitted at least 10 days, and at most 20 days, before the defense date

  3. Taking the above into account, the thesis draft must be submitted by November 1 in the Fall semester and by April 1 in Spring semester

The programs are to advertise these deadlines a year in advance (they are specified in the university catalog)

The thesis defense evaluation is to be conducted by the supervisor(s) and readers/examiners, and would have one of the following possible outcomes:

  1. Thesis accepted with no comments

  2. Thesis accepted with minor corrections

  3. Thesis accepted with major corrections (like theoretical framework or methodology require significant amendments)

  4. Re-examination (like thesis work is not acceptable in the form presented but can still be remedied and presented again)

  5. Failure (like the thesis cannot be remedied, and this would be an exit point for the student from the program)

Feedback should be formalized for legal purposes as to get back to it in conflicts. In this regard, a number of universities require this to be formalized through a form that the supervisor and student need to fill out during each regular meeting they have.

The form typically includes:

  • A checklist of benchmarks for progress

  • A section where text on the student’s progress to be written by the supervisor

  • A section where the text is written by the student on his/her progress

  • Supervisor’s signature and comments on the student’s work progress as well as the student’s signature and comments on his progress should be included

  • Adding any possible further points deemed important by the program which would assist in the follow-up process

  • The committee agreed on developing a generic online “Progress Report” form which should be automatically archived

  • The supervisor and the students must meet at least twice a semester

Confirmation of checking originality in form