Criminology Master of Arts Program

Note - Degree Requirements and Admission criteria were revised for admissions beginning in Fall 2016. There will no longer be a Course, Practicum and Project Option. Entrants wishing to engage in a practicum experience and/or pursue applied/evaluation research will be able to do so within the Thesis Option.

Thesis Requirements

Drafting, Defence and Approval of M.A. Thesis Proposals

A formal proposal for the thesis will be required of all Criminology M.A. students.

The thesis proposal and MA Thesis Proposal Approval form, signed by all members of the student's Supervisory Committee, must be submitted to the Graduate Programs Secretary by October 1 in the fourth semester of graduate studies. The proposal title and manuscript, and evidence that Ethics Approval has been obtained (if required) will be presented to the Graduate Programs Committee for information and reference.

Thesis Style and Format

For guidance in matters of general format and bibliographical style please refer to the University library website at:

Change in Thesis Topic

In the event that, for any reason, an already approved thesis topic is changed during the course of a student's program, formal proposal procedures should be re-initiated as soon as possible. Amendments involving a wholesale retrenchment of substance, theory or approach, or requiring major alterations in focus, design, method or venue, would fall under this category.

Completion Time

Although it is generally expected that the M.A. program should be completed in two years, according to Graduate General Regulations #1.2.2, M.A. students must complete all of the requirements for their degree within 9 terms of equivalent enrolment. On-leave terms will not be counted as terms of enrolment. In addition, all requirements of the master’s degree must be completed within six calendar years of initial enrolment as a master’s student.

Examining Committee for a Master’s Degree Candidate (cf. GGR 1.9.1)

Each candidate for a master’s degree shall be examined on the thesis, extended essays field or comprehensive examination, or project. The nature of the examination and the composition of the examining committee of a student's extended essay, field or comprehensives shall be as designated by the appropriate faculty graduate studies committee and the dean of graduate studies.

Examination of projects for all graduate programs shall be as for the examination of theses with the same requirements for committee composition unless a different examination process has been designated by the appropriate faculty graduate studies committee and the dean of graduate studies.

Examination of projects for all other graduate programs shall be as for the examination of theses with the following exceptions: when the project is live, taped or filmed, only one presentation is required for examination, and only one recording is required for deposition in the library. The one copy deposited in the library shall be the property of the University. The student shall have the right to copy the original, and the right to borrow it for external showing at the discretion of the librarian.

Where such an examination is required for a thesis the examining committee shall have the following minimum composition.

a) the chair of the student’s graduate program committee, or his/her designate, who shall be a non-voting chair of the examining committee. If the chair of the graduate program committee is also on the student’s supervisory committee, he/she shall designate a member of faculty at this University, who is not a member of the student’s supervisory committee, as chair.

b) all members of the student’s supervisory committee.

c) a member of faculty at the university, or a person otherwise suitably qualified, who is not a member of the student's supervisory committee. For those seeking a degree under special arrangements, this person shall be from outside the University. For a thesis defence in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, a master's examiner may not be a member of the same department as the one granting the degree, unless a waiver is granted by the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences or his/her designate.

Preparation for Examination of Master’s Thesis

When a student’s thesis/project paper is substantially completed (i.e., all but the ‘tidying’) the student should meet with his/her supervisory committee to discuss whether the thesis/project paper may be defended. Preparation for the examination of a master’s thesis/project paper shall not take place until the thesis/project paper is substantially complete and in the required format. See for information.

When it has been decided that the thesis/project paper is ready for defence, a date may be set. At least 6 WEEKS before the proposed defence date, the Approval of Examining Committee for a Master's Student form, along with the abstract, short CV of the External Examiner (if external to SFU) and research ethics approval letter (if required) must be submitted to the Graduate Programs Secretary. At least 4 WEEKS prior to the defence date, a PDF of the final version of the thesis/project paper must be forwarded to the Graduate Programs Secretary.

It should be noted that travelling expenses for External Examiners from outside the University cannot be defrayed by either the Dean of Graduate Studies or the School of Criminology. It is possible to arrange for  tele/videoconferencing to be used for Examiners from outside the Province, or to make “in absentia” arrangements. (Contact the Graduate Programs Secretary for more details).

Each semester the deadline for theses/project papers to be submitted to the library is published at If a student fails to meet this deadline then the student will be required to register (and pay all associated fees) once again in the following semester.

If a student completes all requirements for the degree within the first month of the semester, a partial tuition refund of 75% is available. Tuition refunds will not be considered for degrees completed after the first month of the semester.  For more information, please see the Dean of Graduate Studies website: