If you write a thesis or a project, you will begin by writing a prospectus, and before graduation you will do a defense. A prospectus is a proposal, a document in which you describe what you plan to do. Like most proposals, your prospectus will describe and justify your topic and explain your methodology. What are you going to do, how are you going to do it, and why is it important? In addition, you will list your sources and indicate your time line for submitting portions of the document. The fuller your prospectus, the better idea your committee will have about your plans, and the better able members will be to offer useful suggestions about how to proceed. This Microsoft Word file (78K) is an example of a successful MATC prospectus.
Most theses and projects cannot be completed in less than one semester, particularly if you are working or have other substantial time commitments. Therefore, it is a good idea to begin meeting with your adviser (or committee chair) early in your next-to-last semester. You should have the prospectus officially approved by your committee by the end of the semester before you expect to graduate.
Please note that faculty members usually have scholarly commitments that prevent them from meeting with students during the summer.
The committee will arrange to work with graduate students on a first-come, first-served basis. That is, the earlier you submit a satisfactory prospectus, the more desirable time the faculty can arrange for meeting with you. The committee will need two weeks to read your prospectus, discuss it, and get back to you. In some cases, the committee will simply respond to you in writing that your prospectus is satisfactory and give you authorization to proceed. In other cases, the committee might wish to meet with you to discuss your topic or your approach.