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Suggested Thesis/Project Formats, MS in Math Education

(Last updated: 4/28/2015)

Graduate students in the Master of Science in Mathematics Education program at Boise State University are encouraged to consider the following suggested formats as they work to frame the topic and scope for their culminating project or thesis.

General Information

  • Candidates enroll in 4-7 credits of project or thesis work. The number of credits depends on the work, and should be planned with the project/thesis adviser.
  • Theses require a supervisory committee led by a faculty adviser in the program plus typically 2-3 eligible graduate faculty. Projects are supervised by a faculty adviser in the program, often supported by 1-2 additional faculty members.
  • After meeting the project/thesis requirements, candidates are encouraged to develop an article for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. Setting this as a goal helps to disseminate the results more broadly, and to focus the work. Your adviser and/or committee members may contribute as co-authors of the article.
  • All projects and theses must meet the standards of scholarship in mathematics education.  These include, but are not limited to:
    • substantial connections to mathematics content
    • explicit rationale and framework
    • appropriate references to related research
    • trustworthy evidence to support claims
    • clear and concise communication
  • A project or thesis that engages human participants in a research intervention may require Institutional Review Board approval.
  • All projects and theses must include at least the following:
    • written narrative documentation of the purpose, methods, and findings
    • oral presentation of findings, open to the public


Projects offer a flexible structure for demonstrating both achievement in the Master’s program and personal professional growth. Projects typically focus on supporting effective practices of mathematics teachers, such as developing innovative curriculum and/or instructional strategies.

Though it varies, projects typically include one or more of the following products:

  • Manuscript akin to a practitioner journal article (e.g., Mathematics Teacher)
  • Package of curricular and/or instructional materials
  • Structured portfolio
  • Multimedia and/or web-based resources
  • Internal written report to the project committee
  • Presentation at a professional conference/meeting

Project Option 1: Curriculum Development

Engage in a cycle of developing innovative materials for teaching secondary mathematics.

Research, design, development, and/or pilot testing of curriculum in mathematics. The new curriculum must include research-based approaches to instruction and a literature-based rationale for how the curriculum addresses a need in secondary mathematics instruction.

Project Option 2: Action Research

Engage in a cycle of teacher-led instructional research centered on mathematics content.

Lead a data-based inquiry into reformed mathematics instruction in your classroom. The project narrative includes a rationale for the intervention, literature review, research questions, description of methods, findings, interpretations, and recommendations for teaching. Emphasis is on specialized mathematical content knowledge.

Thesis Formats

A thesis is a formal, original, scholarly investigation, typically best for those interested in pursuing a doctoral degree and/or developing their research skills.

Thesis Option #1: Traditional Research Study

Prepare to conduct independent scholarly research in mathematics education.

Requires identification of a research question, substantial review of relevant literature, application of quantitative and/or qualitative research methods, and a report of research findings. Emphasis is on research methods and generalizability of findings.

Thesis Option #2: Synthesis of Literature

Make connections across existing research of a problem in mathematics education.

Select a specific topic or problem in mathematics education with an extensive literature base. Find, summarize, and analyze a minimum of 50 related sources, including both research and practitioner articles. Culminates in findings related to the teaching and learning of mathematics.

Article-Based Theses Guidelines

Note: If you plan to submit an article-based thesis, please contact the Thesis and Dissertation Office, as pre-approval may be required.

Also called the “multi-paper format,” a thesis in this style is composed of a few to several articles or research papers. These articles or research papers can be previously published, in press, or unpublished, but the student MUST be the sole or major contributor. Articles and papers for which the student is not the sole or major contributor cannot be used in the body of the thesis, but may be used in the appendices.

Master’s Thesis Guidelines

Please refer to the Graduate College Standards and Guidelines for Theses and Dissertations Handbook, published by the Graduate College, for more information on Thesis requirements at Boise State.