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The thesis includes original research conducted by the candidate under the guidance of the advisory committee that advances theory and knowledge in sustainability management. The thesis should demonstrate the student’s ability to conduct original research under the guidance of the advisory committee. A successful thesis in the program demonstrates knowledge of existing research within the area of inquiry, the development of a sound research question that addresses current issues of academic research, the ability to apply appropriate methods, and the skill to write research and/or policy. The results of research should be original and contribute to the existing body of theory and knowledge.

Thesis Proposal

Normally, students will complete and have approved a doctoral thesis proposal by the end of the term following the comprehensive examination. The proposal will involve a written proposal and an oral presentation to the Advisory committee and acceptance by the advisory committee of the proposal. Normally, within one week after completion of the presentation, the student will make any final changes to the proposal that arise from the feedback of the advisory committee and provide a copy of the final proposal, as accepted by the advisory committee to the Associate Director, Graduate Studies.

Normally, the doctoral thesis research proposal will be no more than 10,000 words, exclusive of bibliography. A proposal will include the following: a statement of the principal research question(s) and a justification of the question or questions; an outline of the principal theoretical orientations that frame the research questions; a detailed outline of the research methods and steps to be taken to obtain answers to the research question(s); an assessment of the likely contribution to knowledge of the doctoral research; a timetable for completion of the research.

In order to accept a proposal, the advisory committee must be satisfied that the proposal includes all of the required elements, is methodologically and theoretically sound, will result in an original contribution, and is appropriate with regard to supervisory capacity.

Format of the Final Thesis 

Doctoral theses can take various forms. The traditional thesis is a sole-authored document with various chapters. The thesis may also consist of a collection of papers that are published or submitted for publication. The expected maximum is 70,000 words, exclusive of bibliography and appendices.

For a thesis that is not a sole-authored document, the University requirements are that the student has made the major contribution to the work, to the satisfaction of the examination committee. The student will include a statement of contributions in the thesis.

For the PhD in Sustainability Management, a thesis composed of multiple papers should normally contain three articles, at least two of which are normally first-authored by the student. Papers must be published or are of publishable quality. If an article is co-authored the role of each author must be stated with regards to the nature and extent of contribution to the work. There must be a common theme among articles, and the thesis must provide adequate background and methodological description. A separate introduction and conclusion section is required in the thesis. Acceptance of a manuscript by a journal is separate from and does not constitute acceptance or approval by the advisory committee.

The University gives requirements for preparation of the thesis.

Thesis Examination

When the thesis is ready for examination, after review by the advisory committee and with revisions by the student, the advisory committee and the student will complete a form regarding thesis completion. A student will then submit the thesis and the oral examination is scheduled.

PhD thesis exam regulations are defined by the University.