Graduate Programs: Culminating Experiences

In consultation with their advisers, students will choose to complete one of the following culminating experiences: comprehensive exam, thesis or project.

Comprehensive Exam

This option is suited for students who wish to maximize their course enrollment options and requires 30 graduate credits. The four-hour exam consists of three essay questions from core courses in your program of study (COL/NS 700, 720, and 730). These courses must be complete prior to taking the exam. Enrollment in these core courses is not allowed during the semester in which the exam is taken. Degree completion will require earning a passing score on each exam question.​

Thesis and Project Options 

In addition to the comprehensive exam option, students may choose to complete a thesis or project as their culminating experience for the master's program. For both thesis and project options, 30 graduate credits plus a written and oral proposal and defense of the thesis or project are required.


This option is suited for students interested in developing hypothesis testing, data collection, analysis, and interpretation skills while engaging in nutrition-related research. Students may choose a research topic in an area similar to the interests of one of the faculty see faculty interests, or propose a research project in an area of personal interest. To see past thesis, click here: "Past Thesis and Project Options."

A minimum of 30 credits at the graduate level is required, 6 of which are thesis-related.(FN799 or COL 799). Electives will depend on the specific needs and goals of the student. Degree completion will require a presentation of the research proposal, a written thesis, and an oral defense of the thesis. 


This options is suited for students currently employed in a community-related field (teachers, public health professionals, Registered Dietitians, etc.) may wish to develop and implement a program in their current target population. To see past projects, click here: "Past Thesis and Project Options."

A minimum of 30 credits at the graduate level is required, 3 of which are project-related (FN 798 or COL 798). Electives will depend on the specific needs and goals of the student. Degree completion will require a presentation of the project proposal, a written project report, and an oral presentation of the report. 

  1. The thesis/project will be planned by the student and their adviser.
  2. Once preliminary plans for the thesis or project have been made, the student will prepare a proposal using the Proposed Plan: Thesis or Project Form. Students will also submit a written proposal that includes an introduction, review of literature, and methodology
  3. The student will schedule a committee meeting to justify the proposal. At this meeting, a decision will be made regarding approval. All members of the committee must approve the proposal before implementation. The proposal should be distributed to the committee members at least one week prior to the meeting.
  4. The student will work closely with the adviser in the preparation of the thesis or project. Committee members may be called upon for assistance as needed.
  5. Upon completion of the thesis/project, the student will schedule a meeting with the committee for the comprehensive oral exam and to defend the thesis/project. A copy of the thesis or project should be provided to each member of the committee at least 2 weeks prior to the defense of the thesis/project. It is the responsibility of the student to schedule the thesis/project defense at the appropriate time in order to meet the deadlines as indicated in the UWSP Graduate catalog.
  6. During the thesis/project defense meeting, the student will formally present the content of the thesis/project and answer related questions. Committee members may also question the student on any of the courses outlined in the program of study. The committee members must agree that the quality of the thesis/project and performance of the oral defense is acceptable. Approval of the committee must be indicated on the Thesis or Project Defense Form.
  7. A signed copy of the thesis/project defense form must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator upon successful completion of the thesis/project defense.

Copies of Thesis/Project

  1. A copy of your completed thesis/project will be submitted to each of these:
    1. Room 101 CPS Building
    2. Your adviser
  2. For students completing a thesis, the final graduate degree requirement is submission of a bound copy of the successfully defended thesis to the University Library.
    1. You may have your thesis commercially bound, or the UWSP Library offers thesis binding services for $10.00 a copy.
    2. Pay the binding fee at the Main Circulation Desk on the first floor of the University Library if you are using the Library's binding service.
    3. Deposit copies of the thesis and complete the binding information form in Room 12 in the library basement.
    4. Please contact the ALB for further binding information.​

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