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Students are required to submit a written proposal no later than June 30 of first year for full-time students; as per plan of study for part-time students. They are also required to present it to their colleagues.

The proposal should mirror what is expected by most granting agencies and as such should be 12 to 15 pages excluding references and appendices.  It should be in 11 or 12 size font and 1.5 or double-spaced.

Anatomy of a Thesis Proposal

  • Title Page with Document Date and Name(s) and Signature(s) of Supervisor/Committee Members (1 page not included in count)
  • Purpose (~1/4 page)
  • Background and Rationale (~6 to 8 pages)
    • Literature Review           
  • Empirical Objectives (~1/4 page)
  • Study Design and Methods (~5 to 6 pages)
    • List of data sources and variables
    • Data management and analysis strategy
    • Strengths and Limitations
  • Ethical Considerations (~1/4 page)
  • Feasibility Issues (e.g. access to the required data) (~1/4 page)
  • Timeline for Project Completion including key dates (1 page)
  • References (as needed; not included in count)
  • Appendices (as needed; not included in count)

Submitting the Proposal 

The submitted proposal must be approved by the Primary Supervisor and all committee members (if applicable). Approval can be demonstrated by having the document signed before submission or submitting the document electronically with a statement indicating approval which is copied to the Primary Supervisor and all committee members.  The submission is to be via email to

The Proposal Review

The supervisor and student arrange a meeting time with two of the reviewers they recommended at the outline stage, and advise the graduate assistant of the date and time.

The purpose of the review is to provide useful feedback to the student and Supervisor/Committee prior to embarking on the full-scale thesis and to render an assessment of whether the project, as outlined, is thesis-worthy.  The reviews will be sent to the student and Supervisor/Committee.  A copy will be kept on the student’s file.

More specifically, the review panel will be asked to comment on whether:

  1. the project is likely to be manageable within the timeframe and expectations of the two-year MSc program,
  2. the project, if completed as outlined, is adequate and appropriate for an MSc thesis,
  3. there are any methodological or other issues that could pose a problem for a successful proposal defense.

The Thesis Proposal Presentation

Presentation events will be organized in the Fall following the successful completion of the proposal reviews, to provide students the opportunity to present their proposals to their cohort and practice answering questions from their peers and faculty (10-minute presentation and five minutes for questions).