Skip navigation

Conflict Resolution Institute


Graduate Degree Program Overview

MA Thesis (Optional)

Purpose: To demonstrate a student's ability to do an extended piece of research and analysis in an integrative experience.

Candidates for the M.A. degree in Conflict Resolution may choose to prepare a thesis, a manuscript that usually runs between 100-150 pages of text. For the first ten years of the Conflict Resolution Program, all students were required to submit a thesis as part of the M.A. curriculum. In May, 2009, this requirement was relaxed: now, the thesis is optional. Students may substitute additional, elective coursework in lieu of writing a thesis, a policy that has been applied to all current (new and continuing) students in the program.

Anyone who decides to write a thesis should begin working on it near the end of their first year of study. For a full-time student this means deciding on a topic, choosing an advisor, developing a prospectus, and working out a timetable for completing the project, after completing the third quarter of coursework. For detailed information about thesis preparation, see the Conflict Resolution MA Thesis Instruction Booklet.

A thesis is written under the direction of a professor chosen by the student and graded by the professor with a letter grade. The thesis advisor must be a member of the University of Denver Core Faculty in Conflict Resolution; instructors in University College are ineligible.

Normally, a student submits several drafts of a thesis before the final manuscript is accepted and graded. This process often takes six months or more. It is important that the student and faculty advisor establish a specific time period that is considered reasonable for comments to be provided on a student's work, with the understanding that this might need to be changed because of other responsibilities. Students should not expect professors to examine their work in the summer, unless they have spoken with the faculty member to confirm the individual's availability.

An oral defense is scheduled after the thesis is given preliminary acceptance. The defense committee consists of three faculty members—a chair plus two others including the formal thesis advisor from the core faculty. These individuals are chosen by the student in consultation with the Graduate Director, and with the approval of the Josef Korbel Graduate Studies Office (our organizational umbrella base).

After passing the oral defense, and incorporating necessary revisions, a final copy of the thesis must be typed in standard form in accordance with the DU Thesis and Dissertation Formatting Guidelines Booklet. All theses must be submitted electronically. See instructions at: A written evaluation and letter grade prepared by the faculty advisor are due in the Graduate Studies Office two weeks before the end of the quarter that a student intends to graduate. Hard copies of theses are also bound and kept in the Conflict Resolution Program Director's office.

Examples of recent M.A. thesis titles students submitted for their Conflict Resolution degree include: Georgia: Frozen Conflict and Displaced Persons; Indigenous Sovereignty in State-Native Conflict: A Comparative Study of Process and Outcome; Terrorism Conflict: How the United States Responds to Al Qaeda Violence and Expressed Grievances; Peace Makers or Draft Dodgers: Haredi Resistance to Israeli Military Conscription; Addressing Relational Aggression: Assessing the Merits of Coeducational and Gender-Specific Bullying Prevention Programs; Women's Participation in Transitional Justice Mechanisms; Restorative Justice and Recidivism: A Meta-Analysis; Comparing the Integrative Complexity of Non-Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust and Nazi War Crime Defendants.

CRES 4995 MA Thesis Research (0- 5 credits)
This course allows a student to receive credit for research and writing undertaken as part of the master's thesis preparation. Thesis credit is optional, and "variable" meaning a student may register for 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 credits (the maximum allowed within the 62-credit degree program). A student wishing to enroll for credit may do so any quarter (whether it is the quarter while working on the thesis or not), and may repeatedly register for the same course designation over different academic terms. A student may also register for CRES 4991, Independent Study as part of the thesis research program. Registration for M.A. thesis requires a special paper form that must be signed by the Graduate Director, and submitted by the student to the registrar. After a student successfully passes the oral thesis defense and without further revisions required in the manuscript, the student's advisor submits a letter grade to the registrar.