Masters Thesis/Practicum

Department Numbers
Department 1: 
Number 1: 

What is a Thesis?

A thesis is an individual work that is creative, scholarly, and from independent research. The research usually includes a review of literature to delineate a problem or gap in knowledge, statement of objectives, formulation of hypotheses, explanation of methods, collection and analysis of data, report of results, and discussion of conclusions. An abstract, or summary that restates the problem, objectives, methods, results, and conclusions (on a separate page following the title page), is also required. The thesis is reviewed by the student's thesis committee and must meet that committee's standards of quality and quantity. Results of a thesis should be publishable in a peer-reviewed journal.

Objectives of a Thesis

A thesis gives students the opportunity to develop their creative abilities in one or more of the following activities:
• the definition and understanding of environmental issues;
• the development of new knowledge, design and management strategies to address such issues;
• the understanding of the structure and function of biophysical and socio-behavioral systems, and their relationship to environmental issues.

What is a Practicum?

 A practicum is a supervised practical application of a previously developed or studied theory.  In a practicum, theory is used to solve an applied problem.  For SNRE students, a practicum is the application of natural resource problem-solving (analytical) techniques.  This includes the principles of decision analysis and design formulation or evaluation of alternatives for management, planning, or development.  Often, a practicum will be developed around an internship experience or the design of a project, and is an individual opus.  The practicum must include all the scholarly elements of an opus, include a theoretical framework, literature review, and general implications of the particular topic.  It is expected that a practicum opus will be planned under the direction of an advisor to include these scholarly elements; a prior work experience can not serve as a practicum.

 The written report of a practicum experience normally includes (a) an introductory chapter explaining the context of the practicum experience, including a theoretical framework and review of literature, a definition of the problem, a statement of objectives, and an explanation of methods, (b) one or more chapters that describe results of the experience, including an explanation of how theory and skills were applied to help a decision-maker who might use the student’s works, and (c) a concluding chapter that analyzes alternatives or proposes one or more solutions and summarizes the report.  Included also is a summary that recapitulates the problem, objectives, methods, results, and conclusions.  An abstract (on a separate page following the title page) is also required.  The practicum is reviewed by the student’s practicum committee, and it must meet that committee’s standards of quality and quantity.

 Permission to do a practicum will not be granted on the basis of a student’s past experience; a practicum must be based on future work that involves a work plan formulated before the experience.


Objectives of a Practicum

The major objectives of a practicum are to give students the opportunity to develop their creative abilities in one or more of the following activities:


•    give students opportunities to develop, integrate, and reinforce competence through performance in work situations that involve citizens, citizen groups, and professionals


•    permit students to acquire and test skills relevant to real-world conditions of natural resource and environmental design


•    provide students with opportunities to formulate and weigh questions that arise in the course of practice (e.g., ethical issues, policy guidelines, conflicts)


•    apply theory and knowledge to develop effective project designs, development and management plans, and policies for solving critical resource problems


•    prepare a development and/or management plan for the owner of a particular property


•    compare different methods for solving a specific problem and develop a decision model or process for selecting the best method(s)


•    help faculty and students be aware of state-of-the-art practice in the field


Minimum Credits: 
Maximum Credits: 
Pass/Fail or S/U optional
Graduate standing and Permission of Instructor.

Terms Offered

Fall Semester: 
Winter Semester: