Project and Thesis

Whether students have selected to do the optional project or thesis, the Middle East & Islamic Studies capstone research experience should reflect students’ mastery of relevant subjects and skills in their course work, experiential learning opportunities, and research. For the exact number of project or thesis credits to take, students should consult the degree requirements in the University Catalog or the MEIS Handbook.

Middle East & Islamic Studies Project

If the medium of a traditional thesis is not an appropriate fit, the project option enables students to produce a non-traditional deliverable. Middle East & Islamic Studies projects can be:

  • A traditional research monograph that makes an original contribution to knowledge, but is smaller in scale than a thesis and may not necessarily rely on the collection of original data.
  • An original deliverable with a practical application, such as a portfolio, an exhibit design, or a business plan
  • An original creative work, such as a documentary film or podcast series

A project should not be regarded as “easier” than doing a thesis, because both projects and theses have to make an original contribution, and the same quality of work is required. Also, even projects with non-traditional deliverables will involve a significant amount of writing.

Middle East & Islamic Studies Thesis

A thesis involves a lengthy piece of formal writing that makes an original contribution to knowledge based on the collection of original data. Students interested in pursuing a PhD should seriously consider the thesis option.

Course Prerequisites

Students intending to register for credits of MEIS 798 (Project) or MEIS 799 (Thesis)

Must satisfy the following prerequisites for project:

  1. Completion of 21 credit hours toward MA in MEIS
  2. Research Methods Course
  3. An approved project proposal and completed proposal signature sheet

Must satisfy the following prerequisites for thesis:

  1. Completion of all core classes and 24 credit hours toward MA in MEIS
  2. An approved thesis proposal and completed proposal signature sheet

University Research Resources

Human Subjects in Research

University Libraries

University Dissertation & Thesis Services

Project/Thesis Committees

Assembling Your Committee

It is the student's responsibility to assemble their committee and then notify the MEIS program of its members.

It is never too soon to start thinking about your project/thesis committee. These are a few ways to research potential committee members:

  • Talk to other students about their experiences.
  • Read online faculty biographies.
  • Read what relevant faculty have published.
  • Talk to faculty members in office hours or via email.
  • Take a class or independent study with the faculty member you are considering.

Thesis Committees

MEIS thesis committees must be composed of three members of the graduate faculty, and two must be faculty within CHSS. The details of the thesis committee are specified in the University Catalog under the section "AP.6.9.3 Master’s Thesis":

The master's thesis committee is composed of at least three members of the graduate faculty, at least two of whom must be from the student's department or program. Faculty who are not members of the graduate faculty or other appropriate persons not affiliated with the university may serve as additional members. Committee members are appointed by the chair or director of the academic unit or program, or designee, after consultation with the student's adviser and the student.

Project Committees

The membership of the project committee is not specified in the University Catalog.

Project committees have at least one member:

  1. A member of the Mason faculty, graduate or otherwise.

Graduate Faculty

The University Catalog defines graduate faculty in section "AP.6 Graduate Policies" as follows:

The graduate faculty consists of all George Mason University tenured and tenure-track faculty. Other Mason faculty members, as well as individuals from outside the university, may be appointed to the graduate faculty by the Provost for a specified duration of time.

Students should not count on a non-graduate faculty member being made a member of the graduate faculty just to work with them. If you are not sure whether the person you are considering for your committee is on the graduate faculty, the best thing to do is to ask them.

Registration for MEIS 798/799

To register for credits of MEIS 798 - Project or MEIS 799 - Thesis,  a section of the course specific to each student will need to be created. 

Please submit the following items to the program office at

  1. A copy of the project or thesis proposal that has been approved by the entire committee, with signature sheet. Electronic and scanned signatures are permitted.
  2. Upon receipt and approval of these items, you will be given the CRN number for the section that has been created for you. 

Project/Thesis Submission

Submission Deadlines

Students should anticipate completing their projects or theses and circulating them for final signatures at least two weeks prior to the end of the semester (Drafts of the project/thesis should be circulated to the committee weeks in advance of that, in order to leave time for faculty review and student revision).

A project or thesis is finished when every committee member says that it is finished, and even the MEIS director can request further revision. So, students are encouraged to work well ahead and keep the lines of communication open.

For students writing a thesis, you will have to work on the timetable established by University Dissertation & Thesis Services and the CHSS dean's office in order to get the requisite signatures and file the thesis in time to graduate.

Graduation Requirements

Students who are preparing to graduate should consult the CHSS website for the latest Graduation Checklist, which will help to ensure you meet all of the University and Registrar requirements for degree conferral.

Thesis Submission Procedures

  1. Circulate a final version of the thesis to the committee and obtain signatures on an original copy of the Thesis Signature Sheet, available for download at right.
  2. Follow all procedures with University Dissertation & Thesis Services.
  3. Submit a softcopy (email attachment) of the completed thesis to the MEIS director for review.
  4. Submit a hardcopy original of the signature sheet, with all committee signatures, to the MEIS director for signature.
  5. Retrieve this document to procure the dean's signature (contact for assistance) prior to submission to UDTS.

Project Submission Procedures

Projects are not handled by University Dissertation & Thesis Services and do not require the dean's signature. Final submission will be to the Middle East & Islamic Studies program office.

  1. Circulate a final version of the project to the committee and obtain signatures on an original copy of the Project Signature Sheet, available for download at right.
  2. Submit a hard copy of the completed project to the MEIS office in a format that is can be kept in a folder.
    • Please do not submit binders or folders for your text; just the document and with signature sheet will suffice.
    • If the project includes a non-traditional deliverable, like a film, submit it on a CD, DVD, or thumb drive.
    • If the deliverable is also publicly available on the Internet or in the cloud, you may also submit a copy of the URL on paper with your signature sheet and the written component of your project.
  3. Submit a hard copy original of the signature sheet, with all committee signatures, to the MEIS director for signature. 

Resources: Project and Thesis Submission

Checklists for Graduation for MA and PhD Students

University Dissertation & Thesis Services