Welcome to the Master's Degree Thesis webpage for the Agronomy or Horticulture Degree. The Master's of Science degree thesis course (AGRO/HORT 899) serves as the capstone experience for students in the Agronomy or Horticulture Master's of Science degree, Option I thesis track, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

This required course provides an opportunity for students to apply knowledge they've learned in classes to create an original body of work focusing on a research interest.  The thesis should represent the student's best research and professional work.

Graduation Deadlines

Graduate Studies graduation milestones for Dec. 20,  2019, 3 p.m., Pinnacle Bank Arena. Graduate Studies does not allow extensions or waivers for these deadlines.

  1. Sept. 27 Apply for Graduation ($25 non-refundable fee).
  2. Nov. 13 – 1st time Final Exam Report goes to Graduate Studies (including both written & oral exam dates scheduled)
  3. Nov. 20 –  Preliminary Thesis submitted; Written Comprehensive Exam done.
  4. Dec. 5 –  Final Oral Examination; 2nd time Final Exam Report goes to Graduate Studies.
  5. Dec. 6 – Removal of incomplete AGRO 899 thesis grades.
  6. Dec. 20 - Commencement Ceremony

When should students register for the master's thesis?

Since this is a capstone course, it is usually taken during the last 1.5 years or final semesters of a student's graduate career.  Students may take 6-10 credits of AGRO or HORT 899, the master's thesis, (online section 7xx). Students may break up their thesis hours over several semesters and they may take Independent Study AGRO 896 if their thesis research requires more than 10 credits.  Permission codes may be obtained from Danielle Lopez.

Student's Responsibilities

  1. The online master's student should take the lead in communications with his or her advisor and graduate committee using emails, phone calls, Zoom, Skype, Google Docs, UNL Box, Adobe Connect, etc.
  2. The graduate student should keep track of Master's Degree deadlines and due dates for the Graduate Application (in MyRed.nebraska.edu) and the Final Exam Form.  Graduate Studies has the final say in all deadlines and requirements at the University of Nebraska.
  3. Master's students should set up their graduate committee - usually consisting of three or four faculty members. This collaborative committee consists of the student, the faculty advisor(s) and other faculty members who can:
    1. give appropriate input on the thesis;
    2. who the student has enjoyed taking class with; or
    3. who have been recommended by faculty, staff or students.

Thesis Outline

1. Introduction

  1. Literature Review - what has been done previously on your topic or what is currently known about your topic? Google Scholar is helpful here;
  2. Make the case for your study  (for example: little is known or more needs to be done, etc.); and
  3. Clearly State your Hypotheses and Objectives.

2. Materials & Methods

  1. Describe how you will do your work.
  2. Expected Results - How will you interpret results generated from any surveys, trials, tests or experiments?

3. Conclusion & References

  1. Show you have reviewed the current scientific literature;
  2. State that you want to add something meaningful to science;
  3. Say how you're going to do the project; and
  4. Explain how you will interpret results. 

4.  Students should work closely with their faculty advisors and graduate committee members to develop this research thesis. There are often numerous versions or iterations of the thesis as faculty members will challenge students to think "outside the box" and from different perspectives. Committee members will also ask students to evaluate information and/or data that is gathered as a result of the thesis and to "tell a story." When writing, students should show the reader what their assumptions are and be explicit about climate, seasons, and other growing variables. Throughout the paper, it is important to describe processes and how the student came to his or her conclusions.

5.   Thesis Formatting

6.  Final Exam Form

Students graduating in Aug 2019 should submit the Final Exam form by July 3 the first time and by Aug. 1 the second time.  The Final Oral presentation, including final edits, must be done by Aug. 2, 2019.

The Written Exam may consist of:

  • A set of questions related to your project, designed to make you think more critically about your project;
  • A comprehensive written set of questions on agronomy or horticulture; or
  • A written paper about your project;

The Oral Presentation (sometimes called a Defense or Exam) may consist of:

  • A 30 or 40-minute Oral seminar presentation in front of fellow-graduate students and faculty members, followed by 10-20 minutes of a Question & Answers session.
  • A 30 or 40-minute Oral seminar presentation in front of your graduate committee with selected invitees, followed by 10-20 minutes of a Question & Answer session.
  • The seminar presentation will be followed by a graduate committee meeting with the MS candidate in a smaller room.  This can last up to two hours.

Faculty Advisor's Guidance

  1. The faculty advisor should guide the student in subject matter content, hypotheses, materials and methods for the MS thesis.
  2. He or she should help the student plan and develop the Master's Degree thesis.  The advisor should also provide timely input, suggestions, and critiques.
  3. The advisor should also give encouragement toward completion of the master's thesis.