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The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines for the preparation of a thesis, which is required of all M.S. students choosing the thesis option in the Project Management Program.


The ability to identify, define and research an issue or problem impacting project management processes is a necessity for an individual engaged in the professional practice of project management. To develop this, the student is required to prepare a paper that examines, in detail, an issue or problem in project management and provides recommendations or solutions for addressing the issue or solving the problem.

In addition to preparing the paper, the student is required to present the thesis to a group of three of the Project Management faculty. The student will be examined on the thesis as well as other relevant issues in project management. The level of effort should be at least equivalent to that of a 6 credit hour graduate course (@320 hours).


The selection of a topic is the responsibility of the student in collaboration with an advisor from the graduate faculty in the Project Management Program at the Uni- versity of Maryland at College Park. The research should involve the systematic investigation of a topic that is significant and timely and that contributes to the generation of new knowledge and to the solution of relevant project management problems. It is helpful for the student to become familiar with the research inter- ests of the faculty and to discuss tentative topics with them. No later than one semester before the student’s anticipated graduation, the student must choose a topic and select a professor to serve as advisor. The professor must approve the topic and agree to serve as advisor.


The development of a research study for the thesis can generally be organized into the following phases:

  1. Identification of topic and preparation of project plan and schedule
  2. Literature review – a detailed literature search should be performed to identify prior work in the topic area
  3. Statement of purpose and objective of the study
  4. Development of research methodology
  5. Data gathering
  6. Evaluation of results and formulation of conclusions
  7. Preparation of draft and final report
  8. Presentation of report

These phases are closely related to sections or chapters within the report and indi- cate milestones at which progress can be evaluated. At the end of each phase, the student should consult with their advisor to insure that the project is progressing satisfactorily.

Proper scheduling of the research is important for its timely completion. It is suggested that, at a minimum, the student perform the research study over one full semester. The study should be conducted in the following general sequence:


  1. Select topic,
  2. Secure agreement from professor to serve as advisor,
  3. Secure approval of advisor of topic, and
  4. Prepare project plan.


A plan must be prepared that specified the objectives of the study, the activities that are to be performed during the study, how the activities are to be carried out, and a bar chart schedule showing all activities and their schedule dates.


A detailed review of the literature relevant to the topic must be conducted. An annotated bibliography, which identifies the work and provides a summary of it, must be prepared and may be submitted to the student’s advisor.


The student should meet periodically with his/her advisor to clarify issues and prevent problems from arising during the study. The student must meet with his/her advisor no later than eight weeks prior to the student’s anticipated gradua- tion to insure that the study and its results will satisfy the thesis requirements and to discuss the current draft of the paper. The student may request comments on the pre-final draft of the paper before producing the final.


The final document should be submitted to the student’s advisor and the commit- tee in hard and soft copy no later than one month before the student’s anticipated graduation.


The presentation shall be made to a committee of the advisor and at least one ad- ditional faculty member who is a member or associate member of the Graduate School. If there are more than two faculty members on the committee, at least two of them would normally be expected to be from the Project Management faculty. The presentation should be conducted no later than two weeks before the stu- dent’s anticipated graduation but may be conducted much earlier.

The student should plan the presentation to be in the range of twenty to thirty mi- nutes in length and will be followed by a question and answer period. Because the Graduate School requires all students pursuing the non-thesis option to com- plete a comprehensive examination, the student may elect to utilize the discussion period to also function as an oral examination covering any issue relevant to the student’s approved program of study.

A majority vote of committee members is needed to pass the exam. A fail deci- sion shall include specific suggestions and due date for a second presentation and reexamination. A second failure shall result in termination.


The student must submit the completed paper, bound, and signed to the advisor not later than noon on the last day of classes.

The thesis should be prepared in accordance with the following guidance:


1.Cover – 60# card stock Title Page

2. Abstract

3.Table of Contents

4. Executive Summary

5. Body of the Report

a. Description of the project

b. Objectives of the study

c. Methodology
d. Results

e. Conclusions

f. Recommendations for future work Appendices

7. Appendices

a. Appendix – References
c. Appendix – Literature review
b. Appendix. Notation (if required)

The manuscript should be prepared in accordance with the following:

  1. The manuscript must be prepared using a word processor using the Times Roman or Arial 12-point typeface.
  2. The text should be left justified.
  3. Margins should be one inch on the top, bottom, and right side. The left side margin may be up to two inches depending on the format of the paper.
  4. The manuscript must be double-spaced on 8 1/2 x 11 – in. paper.
  1. All references must be complete and use the following format: last names and initials of all authors, year of publication, title of paper (in quotes) or book (underlined, name of periodical (underlined), volume number, issue number (in parentheses), publisher, city and state or nation of publication, and inclusive page numbers.
  2. All figures must be produced using a computer graphics package and have figure number and title.
  3. Gender-specific words should be avoided. Words like author, researcher, and engineer, for example, should be used instead of he or she.
  4. The paper should be written in the third person.
  5. The report must be bound using a Velo or GBC binding system (Available in the College of Engineering Copy Center).


Hard copies shall be given to the student’s advisor and each committee member for reading prior to and reference during the oral presentation. Soft copy is sub- mitted to the advisor and to the graduate school. End of Guideline.


Students need to comply with all the graduation deadlines required by the graduate school. Please refer to for detailed information. – End of Guideline.



This article was last updated on September 15, 2015.