MS Program Timeline

Most students aim to finish their master's thesis within four semesters, as is reflected on this timeline. However, because of the seasonal nature of our fieldwork and problems that may arise and ruin a field season, MS students often need two summers to complete their research. Students on assistantships will likely need to find additional funding if they require a third year.

First Semester

This is when you should be deciding on a thesis topic. If you didn't come here with specific research intentions, now's your time to explore the options! Read articles that interest you and talk to other grad students and faculty with similar interests, especially your major professor. Once you have chosen your topic, start putting together the information. Keep good research notes to aid you in writing your proposal and, eventually, your manuscript.

Coursework is also important for the first semester. Look at your degree requirements and decide which courses will help you meet your educational goals.

Second Semester

Continue to take courses that will help you in your field. Hopefully, by the beginning of this semester you will have a proposal outline to submit to your major professor. You should also continue researching the literature to become well-versed in your subject area. Many major professors suggest that you create an annotated bibliography.

With the goal of having your first committee meeting by the end of the semester, you should begin thinking about faculty or professionals in your field that you would like to have on your committee. You will also want to have a final research proposal compiled before the first meeting. Spring Break may be a good deadline for your first draft of the proposal. Be sure to continually work with your advisor to shape the proposal.

Summer Field Season

Hopefully you have prepared well for this, with all your sites identified and permissions obtained for doing the work.

Third Semester

You should finish taking required courses so that you can focus on writing during your fourth semester. Arrange a committee meeting to update committee members on fieldwork and address any issues that may have arisen. Ideally, submit your first chapter, which should include your introduction and literature review. Write your methods and analyze your data.

Fourth Semester

Double check your course requirements: have you met them? Submit any forms required for graduation. Submit all chapters and your completed thesis for final review two months before your defense. Two weeks before your defense, submit final thesis copies to your committee.

After Thesis Defense

Within 6 months, submit manuscripts to appropriate journals for publication.

Timeline for Ph.D. students

Basically, one can view the MS timeline as a good representation of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) awarded by SUNY ESF. The one major difference is that PhD students are required to obtain 60 credit hours of coursework which includes at least 5 seminar and/or research topic courses (30 to 48 credits), and 12 to 30 credits for dissertation preparation. It is also assumed that a PhD will take at least 4 years to complete, so you have more "wiggle" room to take courses that are of interest to you. PhD students are also required to complete both a written and oral examination given by their committee of 3 members (more information on forming your committee can be found at http://efb-grad-handbook.wikidot.com/committee. One rule of thumb for newly entering doctoral students is to try and complete your coursework early so that you may focus on your research. Although this might seem to be a daunting task, it can be done. For more information, you can visit SUNY ESF's catalog at http://www.esf.edu/catalog. For more detailed questions, ask your advisor, or any of the other graduate students who will be more than willing to help. Good luck!