All MA in Education students complete an action thesis. By "action," we mean that your thesis should be aimed toward improving or transforming something in your own environment. It should be useful. It should not simply be data you gather, write up, then put away. Your thesis may involve creating something new to use in your classroom, for example. By "thesis," we mean that you use a research process to inform your work. This will involve finding out how other people have approached a concern similar to yours, and finding out tools or conceptual frameworks that can help you. It may also involve gathering primary data.

The links below will take you to more specific information and places for help.


The action thesis is the culminating project of the Master of Arts program, and demonstrates your mastery of most of the program's core learning outcomes. The following five learning outcomes will be used to evaluate an action thesis.

Critical Questioner: Students will express a critical, questioning perspective (i.e., identify, describe, and analyze) about diverse theoretical paradigms about teaching, learning and school reform, including those generated by marginalized groups, which situate schooling in a larger historic and political context.

Scholar: Students will search, navigate, and critically consume (read, analyze, and use) educational research.

Action Researcher: Students will use, apply, design, and implement research to bring about change and make improvements in their own professional environment.

Communicator: Students will communicate the action thesis in a manner that is clear and commands professional attention.

Social justice collaborator: Students will work with communities of practice on behalf of social justice.

You will develop a proposal for the action thesis in the research methods course: MAE 621 or MAE 622. After that, you will be assigned a faculty research advisor. It is your responsibility to seek help from the advisor regularly. You should register for MAE 690 (Action Thesis Advising), selecting the section of their faculty advisor, for the remaining semesters until graduating. This is a one-credit advising "course." It does not meet formally as a course, but it links students with advisors formally, and helps create time for advisors to actually work with students.

By the time you register for Capstone, the action thesis should be partially completed, which should include:

  • a review of relevant literature, written as a draft chapter
  • Institutional Review Board approval completed
  • data collection completed and analysis started, or applied project partially developed