Plan B Thesis Requirements

Students in the M.S. Ed. degree program in School Psychology need to complete a Plan B Thesis. Most students in the M.S. Ed. degree program take the required research courses (EDUC 740 Research Foundations and SPSY 735 Problems in School Psychology) during their first year of the program. Students typically enroll in EDUC 740 Research Foundations during Spring Semester of their first year. Students can enroll in SPSY 735 Problems in School Psychology (Plan B) concurrently or sequentially. Most students enroll in SPSY 735 during the Summer Semester of their first year. Approximately half of all students will complete their thesis during the Summer Semester and graduate with their M.S. Ed. at the end of the summer session. The remaining students typically complete the thesis and graduate with their M.S. Ed. at the end of Fall Semester of their second year.

To assist students in the Plan B process, there is a Research Packet available from the Graduate School (or online here). The packet explains the Plan B process, delineates the steps towards completion of the Plan B thesis, provides suggested timelines, and gives examples of formats used for consent forms, abstracts, and thesis structure. Students should obtain a copy and read through it carefully. Another useful resource is the University Library's Thesis Collection which is available online. Students can review recently completed theses that have obtained Graduate School approval.

Selecting a Research Advisor

A research advisor must be selected from the Graduate Faculty. The research advisor does not need to be a School Psychology Faculty member. It is the student's responsibility to arrange research advisement with the faculty member of their choice. Complete the Appointment of Research Advisor Form, obtain the necessary signatures (research advisor, department chair, and school psychology program director), and return the form to the Graduate School. Students need to complete this form before they can register for SPSY 735 Problems in School Psychology (Plan B).

Paperwork required for the Plan B Thesis

With the assistance of your Research Advisor, complete the Preliminary Statement of Research: Approval of Research Topic and Protection of Human Subjects form and return it to the Graduate School. If the study involves collecting data from humans the Protection of Human Subjects in Research Form also will need to be completed. This form and the required attachments are then turned in to the Graduate School.

Format of Plan B Thesis

Several formats are acceptable for a Plan B Thesis. The student and his or her research advisor must agree on the format. Many students in the School Psychology program use their Plan B Thesis as a precursor to their Ed.S. Specialist Thesis. If a student chooses this option, a literature review and critical analysis of the research is sufficient for the Plan B. Thesis. However, students may choose from any of the following options:

  • The study may be a replication (with proper acknowledgement) of a published study.

  • The study may involve developing a test or survey with field-testing.

  • The study may be a review and critical analysis of research/literature in a selected area.

  • The study may show application of scientific methodology and principles to solve a problem.

  • The scope of the study may be a pilot study.

  • Studies whose results are primarily useable in a single setting would be acceptable. It may be a case study.


The structure of the paper is determined in conjunction with one's research advisor. A suggested outline for a review and critical analysis of literature and review might consist of an introductory chapter (introduction; problem statement; rationale, purpose, and significance of study; and research questions, objectives or hypotheses), a second chapter reviewing and analyzing the literature (review of literature and relevant research; critical analysis of literature and research; and summary), and a final chapter outlining the proposed study (research design; subject selection; methodology; and recommended data analysis) or providing a summary and discussion (conclusions, implications, recommendations and directions for further research). It is recommended that the student use APA Style in writing their Plan B Thesis. The Graduate School approves several formats and writing styles and a student is allowed to use the format or style of their choice as long as it is on the approved list and their advisor approves.

Submission of the Plan B Thesis to the Graduate School

It is recommended that students prepare two paper copies of their research paper to be signed by the research advisor. Students submit one original signed copy to the Graduate School along with an electronic copy (floppy disk, CD-Rom, Zip Disk). Retain the other copy for the student's record. The electronic copy needs to be in Microsoft Word 6.0 or higher. A micro-processing fee will be assessed. In addition, the completed and signed Plan B Thesis needs to be accompanied by the Submission of Final Research Report form. The Plan B Thesis must be turned in by 4 p.m. on the last day of the term in which the student intends to graduate.