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Virginia Tech History Master’s Thesis Proposal

A Virginia Tech Master’s Thesis Proposal is comprised primarily of 3 parts:

Narrative: including the historical question, thesis or focus statement (answer), significance of research, literature review, and personal review of the above.

  • Historical Question—What are you writing about?  What significant questions are you asking and how does your topic address the question?
  • Thesis or Focus Statement—This is an answer to the question(s) asked above.  What are your sources and where is that evidence located?  What is your perspective?  What theoretical framework are you using?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of your sources?
  • Significance—why are your question and answer significant?  Set it up within the larger, ongoing, scholarly conversation.  How will you contribute to the conversation?  Are you asking new questions, or giving new answers to old questions?
  • Literature review—What are the historical or theoretical issues your thesis addresses?  What is the current state of the literature?  What has already been asked?  How did they answer it?  What sources did they use?  How will you use them?
  • Personal review—How would you critique your own proposal?  What problems do you see?  Problems with evidence? Questions? Etc.

Bibliography:  A list of each source used and planned to be used in the making of the project.  These should be categorized into source types, primary and secondary, and further sorted by discipline, sports history, gender history, etc.

Calendar of Events:  This will include the dates important to one’s research.  Perhaps the due date of each chapter, due date of each revision, estimated defense date, etc. would be included.  My calendar would include due dates of each section of the written paper as well as estimates of completion and full functionality of elements of the website.  This should be done in collaboration with an adviser in order for you both to know what to expect, and to keep the student and adviser accountable.

My preliminary calendar:

August 30:  Preliminary primary research complete

September 15:  Preliminary secondary research complete

September 25:  Proposal due to adviser

October 1:  Proposal Defense

November 1:  First portion due

December 15:  Second portion due

January 15:  Preliminary website functional, with text added, reviewed, and customized design.

February 15:  Archive fully functional and searchable metadata input

March 31:  Website fully operational and prepared to defend


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