Appendix: Thesis Guidelines

The major assignment during the fall term is the submission of a prospectus to the thesis adviser. The prospectus is designed to help ensure that a student and faculty adviser are explicit about the thesis topic, to promote continued progress during the fall term, and to increase the likelihood of a final high-quality product. Students are strongly encouraged to work on the thesis throughout the second year. These prospectus guidelines, therefore, are a minimum requirement. Furthermore, given a student’s ongoing work, the prospectus is considered more of a “progress report.”

A first draft of the prospectus is due to the thesis adviser no later than November 2, with the full prospectus due to the thesis adviser and the School registrar on December 1. The prospectus should be completed using the guidelines below. In addition, it is expected that students include proper citations and references when preparing the prospectus. More information regarding proper citing of sources can be found on the Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning website at Please note that the preferred thesis for students is one that is in the style and length of a publishable, peer-reviewed paper.

Please refer to Yale Poorvu Center Publishing website for publication guidelines.

Timeline for M.P.P. Thesis

September 30 Thesis adviser form due to registrar (signed by thesis adviser and assistant dean for graduate education).

November 2 First draft of thesis prospectus due to primary thesis adviser. See Thesis Prospectus Format, below, for expected content. 

December 1 Final draft of thesis prospectus due to primary thesis adviser and School registrar (students will not be allowed to register for thesis credits the following term if the prospectus is not submitted and approved by the primary thesis adviser).

Mid-March First draft of thesis due to primary thesis adviser.

April 20 Final thesis to be submitted to thesis adviser and faculty for final grading.

April–May Presentation of thesis, open to the Jackson community and guests. The presentation does not factor into final grading.

May 10 Deadline for final grades to be submitted to registrar from thesis adviser for student submission of electronic copy.

Thesis Prospectus Format

Primary Thesis Adviser

  1. Specific Aims and Hypotheses. Clear and succinct statement of the thesis objectives, including primary study hypothesis.
  2. Background and Rationale. Brief overview of existing literature (three to five paragraphs is sufficient for the prospectus). Why is this project important? How is it different from existing research?
  3. Methods. Brief overview of the basic study methodology.
  4. Focus. Address how the thesis is of relevance to public policy, as opposed to a strictly academic work from another discipline.

Thesis Organization

The thesis must be assembled as follows:

  1. Title Page (Title cannot exceed sixty characters)
  2. A one-page, double-spaced abstract
    The abstract is the final statement on the problem addressed by the thesis and should incorporate the most mature insights attained.
  3. Acknowledgments (if desired)
  4. Table of Contents
  5. List of Tables (if any)
  6. List of Figures (if any)
  7. Body of the Thesis
    ​The following organization of the body of the thesis is recommended:
    1. Introduction
      1. Brief statement of specific objectives of the investigation
      2. Statement of general problem addressed by the thesis
      3. Elaboration of objectives and/or hypotheses, including the relation to the general problem
    2. Review of Studies Relevant to the Problem
    3. Research Design
      1. Specific research design and method
      2. Reasons for selection
      3. Method of analysis, including justification for statistical tests
    4. Presentation and Analysis of Findings
      ​This is the major portion of the thesis. The significance of the findings should be discussed and an assessment made of their applicability to current theory and practice. Analysis and discussion may be presented together in one chapter or separately in two chapters.
    5. Conclusions
      1. Summary of findings
      2. Limitations of findings and other limitations of the study
      3. Conclusions based on the study
      4. Relevant recommendations for program development or further research
  8. References
    A list of the pertinent references consulted in preparing the thesis should be included. Any standard and consistent format for presentation of footnotes and references is acceptable.
  9. Appendix or Appendices

Satisfactory Thesis Progress

Students not making satisfactory progress toward their thesis in the fall, may withdraw on or before December 1 without a note on their transcript.

Thesis Pending (Delayed Submission of Thesis)

Students who have not received final grade from primary adviser and submitted their thesis electronically by May 1 will be considered thesis pending and will receive a grade of Incomplete for the thesis. Students who are thesis pending will not be allowed to participate in the Commencement ceremony and will not receive the M.P.P. degree until all requirements are complete.

Students who are thesis pending are given one year to complete the thesis without penalty. During this time, students in thesis pending status must be registered for continuous study each term of the regular academic year until the thesis requirement has been completed (except in the case of an approved leave of absence). Students may not register for regular course work while on continuous study status. Students are permitted to be on continuous study for a maximum of two terms. The fee for continuous study is $750 per term. Students registered for continuous study are not eligible for financial aid.

At the end of the one-year period, the grade of Incomplete will be changed to a grade of F if the thesis has not been submitted. The student will then be required to register for two Global Affairs elective courses earning a final grade of H in each, to satisfy the HP average requirement, and pay a continuous registration fee.

Publication Guidelines

The thesis may be published independently. It also may be published under joint or multiple authorship if advisers or others have contributed significantly to the final product. Significance is interpreted to mean contributions such as expanding theory or techniques of analysis in ways beyond the usual role of an adviser. Supplying the database does not entitle the supplier to authorship. When students work on sponsored research, the thesis adviser and the student should sign a letter of agreement on funding, use of database or materials, deadlines, publication rights, and authorship before work on the thesis begins.

Publication Process for the M.P.P. Thesis

The following are publication guidelines that are intended to avoid miscommunication and differential expectations of authorship between students and thesis advisers.

  1. When the prospectus is submitted, thesis advisers will discuss publication with students, including desire for publication, description of the publication process, possible venues, authors, determination of authorship order, and logistics.
  2. If the thesis adviser provides the data, then the adviser should create a written publication/data sharing agreement. The agreement should be signed by both the adviser and the student before work on the thesis is started. The agreement should include at the minimum:
    • Process for order of authorship
    • Timeline for publication and process if timeline is not met
    • Process and expectations of revisions
  3. If the thesis adviser does not provide the data, then the thesis adviser should work with the student to draft a similar document to be completed and signed by the student and the primary data source. Guidelines should be consistent with any established policies of the primary data source. This should be done whether or not the thesis adviser is included as an author on the publication.
  4. In general, if the manuscript has not been submitted for publication within a year after graduation, the thesis adviser will have the right to prepare the manuscript for publication.