The culminating experience for MPA students is either the Comprehensive Exam or the Graduate Research Project. The Graduate Research Project option is essentially a Master's Thesis. It is a formal research process where students will collect primary data, analyze it and draw conclusions. It is primarily for students planning to continue their education for a doctoral degree. Most students take the comprehensive examination option.
Students must have a grade point average of 3.5 or above to enroll in the Graduate Research Project option.
Those wishing to pursue the graduate research project option will follow the following process:
- Early in your degree program meet with the MPA Coordinator (Dr. Anderson) with a ½ page general description of the research question you are interested in carrying out.
- After a discussion, Dr. Anderson will recommend what faculty members might be able to be your adviser.
- You must solicit the willingness of a full time faculty member to supervise your research effort. They will help you focus your research question.
- Enroll in an independent study on the topic of the research question and complete a literature review and research proposal (basically chapters one and two of the project).
- At the end of the independent study you and your adviser decide whether you will continue on to the data collection and analysis. If you choose not to continue, the independent study will count as one of your program electives.
- Enroll in PA 695 and complete your research.
- Follow Graduate Studies guidelines
- Pass an oral "defense" of your research project on the CSUSB campus.
The process generally takes at least a year to complete, so students seeking this option should line up faculty support midway through their program of study, getting their proposal approved, gathering bibliography, etc. Students must stay continuously enrolled and must pay the minimum fee each quarter, while completing the research project to obtain credit for PA 695.
NOTE: Students who do not pass the Comprehensive Exam may not undertake Graduate Research Project.