Thesis Requirements

Drafting, Defence, and Approval of MA Thesis Proposals

A formal proposal for the thesis will be required of all Criminology MA 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:

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 MA program should be completed in six terms (two years), according to Graduate General Regulations #1.2.2, MA students must complete all of the requirements for their degree within 9 terms of continuous 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 comprehensive examinations shall be as designated by the appropriate faculty graduate studies committee and the dean of graduate studies.

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 their 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, they 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 their designate.

Preparation for Examination of Master’s Thesis

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

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

It should be noted that travelling expenses for External Examiners from outside the University cannot be defrayed by either Graduate and Postdoctoral 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. 

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 if all the requirements are met. Tuition refunds will not be considered for degrees completed after the first month of the semester. For more information, please see the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website:

Contact the Graduate Programs Assistant at for more information.