Students in the Master's Degree in Criminal Justice must either complete a thesis (CRMJ 599r for six hours credit) or take an additional six hours of electives and take the Comprehensive Exam.
In most cases, students will be required to take CRMJ 596: Thesis Seminar and receive at least a B in the course prior to completing a thesis. In some occasions, this course may be waived with permission of the Graduate Coordinator. This course is designed to help students start, finish, and defend their thesis proposal. The proposal writing process includes, among others, formulating research questions and hypotheses, selecting a Chair and committee, developing a feasible research design, and completing the writing in consultation with your Chair and committee. The process also involves study design, intensive writing, and time and problem management. This course offers the structure, guidance, and peer support to enable you to successfully complete and defend your proposal or at least make significant progress towards that end. The course also is designed to allow students to complete this preliminary work and make an informed decision about completing a thesis. Students may take this course for credit and decide that they do not want to pursue the thesis option.
All thesis require a chair and two committee members. The Chair must be a full-time faculty member in the thesis student’s department in a tenure-track position and should have full graduate faculty status. One other member of the committee must be a full-time faculty member in the thesis student’s department. The remaining members of the committee must either be full-time faculty members in the student’s department or must possess qualifications that are deemed suitable for committee membership by the student’s department and by members of the Graduate Faculty.
Continual Enrollment in Thesis
Students writing a thesis must continue to register for CRMJ 599r each fall and spring semester after the initial registration until the thesis is accepted for binding. The student must be enrolled for at least two semester hours of thesis during the semester the thesis is submitted. Students who are planning on graduating in August must register for thesis hours in the summer term. Students can take up to six (6) thesis hours. Although additional hours can be taken, students will receive a grade for only six (6) hours. If, through unusual circumstances, the student cannot work continuously on the thesis, the student may request in writing a one-time stop-out. This request must be made no later than the end of the enrollment period of the succeeding semester. The stop-out is not to exceed four continuous fall and spring semesters. The stop-out must be approved by the thesis advisor and the dean of the Graduate School.
Grading of Thesis
NP grades for thesis hours will be recorded during semesters when, in the judgment of the thesis advisor, the student fails to demonstrate adequate progress on the thesis. SP grades will be recorded for those semesters during which adequate progress occurs. A final grade for the thesis course will not be recorded until the thesis has been deposited in the library. At that time, up to six of the most recent semester hours of previously SP graded thesis credit will be recorded as A or B on the student’s transcript. NP grades and SP grades for thesis in excess of the thesis hours required will remain on the transcript.
Submission of Thesis
All thesis must conform with university guidelines outlined in the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Graduate Thesis & Dissertation Guidelines. A full draft of the thesis must be submitted to the dean on the Graduate School for review no later than one month prior to the first day of scheduled final examinations for the term in which the student expects to graduate. When the thesis has been successfully defended, the original and two copies of the approved thesis (three copies) must be submitted to the dean of the Graduate School for final approval by the last day of examinations for the term during which the student plans to graduate.
Before a thesis is deposited in the library, it is the responsibility of the thesis committee to examine the materials and to make sure that the report is mechanically accurate and attractively presented, is free of technical errors in format, is suitable for binding and reflects credit upon the University and its graduate program. If the form of the thesis is not thus approved, the student must make whatever corrections are necessary and submit the materials again. The thesis must include the standardized approval sheet, signed by the members of the committee, which certifies to the Dean of The Graduate School that the committee has examined the final copy of the thesis and found its contents to be satisfactory. A receipt from the Lupton Library for the binding fee must be submitted with the final thesis.
Graduate Council strongly recommends that thesis students pay an additional $45 fee so that a fourth copy of their abstract and thesis can be submitted to University Dissertation Publishing Co., for listing in Master’s Abstracts International, for copyright, and for submission to the Library of Congress. (Master’s Abstracts International (MAI) is University Dissertation Publishing Co’s, formerly known as University Microfilms, Inc., authoritative source of current graduate research.). MAI is available in practically every university and research library in North America as well as through Europe and the Far East. Citations for tens of thousands of master’s theses are included with 10,000 master’s theses added to the database each year.
Students who do not write a thesis are required to successfully pass a comprehensive exam. The comprehensive exams are issued once in the fall (the first Saturday in November) and once in the Spring (the first Saturday in March). To be eligible for the comprehensive exam, the student must:
- be within one semester of program completion
- successfully completed or be concurrently enrolled in all core classes (CRMJ 5000, 5010, 5020 and 5030)
- have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0
- have their candidacy form approved and accepted
- submit an application indicating their intent to take the comprehensive exam (the application must be submitted no less than one month prior to the examination date.
Comprehensive exams are given during the fall and spring semesters; summer comprehensive exams will be given at the discretion of the department.
Procedures and Guidelines
The comprehensive exam is administered by the graduate coordinator and is divided into two parts. For Part I of the exam, students will electronically receive a general research/policy question two weeks prior to the official comprehensive exam date. The students will have two weeks to complete an 8-10 page paper containing an introduction, literature review, theoretical statements and methodology. The research design section MUST list strengths and weaknesses of the proposed study. All reviews should be completed using the APA citation style with a works cited page. The literature review should contain a minimum of 8 academic sources. Students will be expected to complete this work on their own without consultation with other individuals. Papers must be the student’s own work. Receiving assistance from other parties and/or submitting work that is not the student’s work product is considered cheating. Students who cheat will fail the comps and will be referred to honor court for other sanctions including possible dismissal.
On the official comp date, students will electronically receive Part II of the exam. They will be presented with research findings pertinent to their assignment and asked to interpret these findings and discuss the limitations of the study and the results. The student will also write a discussion section that addresses policy implications and make recommendations based on their literature review and the findings. The student will have 4 hours (9-1pm) in which to complete this assignment. Upon completion, the student will electronically submit Part I and Part II as ONE complete document.
If a student has registered for the comprehensive exam, they are required to inform the graduate coordinator 2 days prior to receiving the examination question if they have chosen to postpone the process. Failure to do so will result in an automatic failure of the comprehensive exam.
Submission of Comprehensive Exam
Upon completion, the student will electronically submit Part I and Part II as ONE complete document. Standard writing practices are expected meaning that the document should be typed, double spaced with one-inched margins, 12-point font and numbered pages. A cover sheet must accompany the document with a title of the paper and the name of the author. To ensure a blind review grading process, the authors’ name SHOULD NOT appear on any other page in the document (including as headers or footers). Once the exam has been submitted, the Graduate Coordinator will electronically send confirmation that he/she has received the exam.
Grading of Comprehensive Exam
Grading: Grades will be provided to students no later than two weeks after completing the exam.
Students will be graded by two reviewers assigned by the Graduate Coordinator. Both parts of the exam are graded independently, meaning it is possible to pass one part and fail the second. Based on performance, graders will recommend one of the following for each part of the exam:
- Pass, no further action
- Marginal performance, oral exam requested.
- Failure, student must retake the exam.
To receive a pass, both reviewers must evaluate the student’s performance as passing. If either reviewer believes the grade is marginal or failing, it is considered a split decision. In this circumstance, the student will automatically be required to take an oral examination. The only outcome of an oral exam is pass or fail. The oral exam will be evaluated by three reviewers. The third reviewer will be present and will be the deciding vote if the two main reviewers cannot reach consensus. The purpose of the oral exam is to give reviewers the opportunity to follow up on issues in the paper and/or to flush out details in cases where students appear to be on the margins of passing. It also may be requested if there are any doubts that the student prepared the work themselves to ensure that they can answer relevant questions about their submission. Any oral exam will be conducted within a week prior to the graduate deadline for submitting comprehensive exam results. Failure to successfully complete the oral exam with a “pass” will result in failure for the entire comprehensive exam.
Students who fail the comprehensive exam may take the exam a second time. The process is the same as the first time. Per the Graduate Catalog, students who fail to pass the exam on their second attempt may petition the Graduate Council for permission to take the exam a third time. If approved, the process is the same as outlined previously; however, there is no option for retaking the exam orally. The student must pass both parts of the exam on the third attempt.