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Resources For Graduate Students​

Graduate students can find valuable information below related to their requirements for graduation. This page covers specific information about completing your MA thesis and project and fulfilling all the requirements for graduation and clearance, including:  

A. Comprehensive Exam
B. Thesis/project Proposal
C. Proposal Defense
D. Important Deadlines
E. IRB (Institutional Review Board)
F. Thesis/Project Style
G. Thesis/Project Defense
H. Submitting the Thesis/Project
I.  Clearance  

A. Comprehensive Exam: You should register for the Comprehensive Exam (MCOM 395) the semester before you register for the thesis or project. For example, if you plan to register for thesis/project in your 4th semester, you should register for the comprehensive exam no later than your 3rd semester. According to the graduate catalogue, a student who does not pass the comprehensive exam may take it a second time in the following semester. Ask your thesis/project advisor for more details.

B. Thesis/Project Proposal: After passing the comprehensive exam, you should prepare a thesis proposal and with the approval of your thesis advisor you should choose committeemembers. You need two committee members (plus the advisor) for the thesis, but only one committee member for the project. The thesis proposal is made up of several sections.

  1. ​The introduction section which must clearly address the following:
    • ​​​The context of the chosen topic.

    • The purpose of the study.

    • The significance and relevance of the study.

    • A summary of the method that will be used for conducting the study

  2. ​​The theoretical framework section for the study.
  3. The literature review section which should review recent and relevant scholarly studies.
  4. The research questions or hypotheses section which should include a set of preliminary research questions or hypotheses that focus on what the student aims to answer in the study.
  5. The methodology section which should include the following:
    • ​Description of the method that will be used to conduct the study.
    • Justification for the chosen method.
    • The sampling technique.
    • Elaboration on how the used instrument addresses the study’s research questions or hypotheses.
    • Description of the execution process of the study in addition to mentioning the analysis tools the student will use.
    • A brief description of the limitations of the chosen method.
  6. ​The references section.
      • ​​​The advisor and committee members must be full-time faculty members of professional rank (assistant professor and above). The committee members may not be part-time AUB faculty. Committee members from outside the university must be full time faculty of professorial rank too. Committee members from outside the university will be required to submit their professional CV before the committee is approved. Approval of committee members by the Media Studies Director must be sought when submitting the proposal electronically. Permission should be requested for committee members from outside the Media Studies Program too. Your advisor should always be consulted before asking someone to be on your committee.

C. Proposal Defense:  You must abide by the posted deadlines and defend your proposal the semester before you plan to register for the thesis/project, or your graduation may be delayed and you may lose your graduate fellowship and assistantship program (GFAP) tuition coverage for the last semester (see deadlines below). After choosing the thesis committee members and writing the proposal, you should get the approval of your advisor for defending your proposal. Your advisor decides whether you are ready to defend or not. Once your advisor approves, promptly set up a date for the proposal defense with the adviser and the committee members. You should submit your proposal to the committee 10-14 days before the scheduled defense date. For the defense, prepare a short (10-15 min) oral presentation and be ready to answer questions. Once the proposal is approved, you must submit electronically the thesis proposal online by accessing the FAS online Petition and Forms system website:

Log in and select the thesis proposal or project proposal which are listed on the left. Write the title of your thesis/project, the abstract, and select the name of the advisor. After clicking on the proceed button, the next page will ask you to select the committee members, attach the full proposal, and submit the application. Once it is approved by the advisor, the committee members, the chair of the department, and the responsible committee, you will receive a notification of approval via email. You can also check the status of the petition online any time. 

D. Thesis deadlines: click here​

E. IRB (Institutional Review Board): Before starting work on your research, you must get IRB approval and pass the CITI test:  

For IRB applications, visit this website: and choose either the Student Application Exempt Form or the SBS Application Form, according to the kind of research you are doing.

To determine the type of the review, you should consult your advisor and check the categories of research that may be subjected to an expedited or exempt review to save yourself time:

  1. Expedited: 
  2. Exempt:

Both you and your adviser must complete the appropriate CITI test by visiting this website: . Select the American University of Beirut from the list of participating institutions and follow the steps. When you reach the page about modules, choose Social and Behavioral Research for questions 1 and 3. After successfully completing the CITI program, you will be able to print and save your certificate. IRB may require a copy of this certificate.

The IRB application entails the following:  

  1. ​A completed application form (Student Application Exempt Form or the SBS Application Form) signed by the thesis adviser and the program director.
  2. The research proposal.
  3. English and Arabic versions of the Consent forms, if needed. See this page to choose the appropriate consent form according to the proposed research:
  4. Recruitment material and samples, if used (e.g. advertisements, brochures, flyers, video tapes or letters to potential subjects).
  5. English and Arabic versions of the data collection form or instrument (e.g. a list of interview questions; a survey questionnaire; a protocol for qualitative analysis; a codebook for quantitative analysis...).
  6. Your CITI Certification.

The thesis adviser, the principal investigator, will receive an email/letter from the IRB office communicating IRB’s decision after 3 weeks or more depending on the type of requested review. In most cases, expect to make some modifications and resubmit it for reconsideration. It is important to submit your IRB application as early as possible, so your graduation is not delayed. For further information, please check this document:  

F. Thesis/Project Style: Although the university has it's own style, which you can find in the Thesis Manual, the Media Studies Program requires students to follow APA, which your research methods course will cover. However, you should ensure that all the required sections of the thesis are structured in accordance with the AUB Library requirements. 

You can find the Thesis Manual document here:  

The thesis template here:

And the project template here:

Visit the Archives and Special Collections Department at the Jafet Library before the thesis defense and ask a librarian there to check the format of your draft thesis/project.

G. Thesis/Project Defense: At least two weeks before the thesis defense, the student should submit copies of the thesis, unbound but ready for binding, to the members of the thesis committee. After setting up a date for the thesis defense (with the approval of your advisor), should inform the secretary of the department about the day of the defense, book a room for that day, and request a technician in order to help overcome any potential technical problems. Send email reminders to your advisor and committee a day in advance. Arrive at least an hour before the defense time to resolve any potential problems.

The total time allocated for the defense should allow for answering all questions and will normally not exceed 90 minutes. The thesis defense session is normally chaired by the thesis adviser and shall be conducted according to the following procedure:

  1. Introduction of the student defending the thesis by the thesis adviser.
  2. Presentation of the work by the student in 20 to 45 minutes (Ask your adviser about the exact time).
  3. Questions first from members of the public, then the thesis committee, starting with general and clarification questions, followed by more specific, technical questions.
  4. At the end of the defense, the student and the public shall be requested to leave the room to allow the committee to decide.

The thesis committee members might ask the student to make some changes to the thesis before submitting it to the library.

“Pass” or “Fail” is reported for the combined thesis and thesis defense. If “Fail” is reported, the student may resubmit the thesis and defend it after a period of at least three months. Failure on the second attempt results in discontinuation from graduate work. 

Right after the defense, you should obtain the signatures of your adviser and committee members on the approval form. 

H. Submitting the Thesis/Project: After passing the defense and making any required corrections and changes, visit the Archives and Special Collections Department at the Jafet Library and ask a librarian to check the final thesis document before you print it.

Your should deposit one copy of the MA thesis printed on fabriano paper, in addition to two digital copies, one saved as an MS Word document and another as a PDF, both on a CD-ROM. Check the Thesis Manual for further information: 

You should sign a release form indicating whether or not the library is authorized to supply copies of the thesis to other libraries or to individuals (4th page of the thesis).

After submitting the needed documents to the Archives and Special Collections Department, you will receive a library receipt.

I. Clearance: To initiate clearance, you should fill out the clearance form and obtain the signature of the thesis adviser. Request the clearance form from the department secretary.

Submit the library receipt and the signed clearance form to Ms. Huda Nakad at the Registrar’s Office.

Afterwards, you will meet a staff member from the Registrar’s Office to initiate the Online Clearance, which includes several offices, departments, schools, or faculties depending on your status. Your clearance application will electronically be sent to the various departments whose feedback should be received for their approval or holds (holds can be on library books or unsettled fees etc …). Graduating Students are responsible to release any hold(s) and settle any dues or fees if found.

The registrar will assign you a deadline to do the following tasks (as mentioned in the email you will receive from the clearance officer):

      • ​​​​​​Return the AUB ID card to the ID Center.

      • Return the AUB P.O. Box key to the Post Office.

      • Fill out the Online Exit Survey.

      • Fill out the Career and Placement Survey.

      • Drop by the Development Office, College Hall, 3rd Floor.

The clearance overall status will remain IN PROGRESS until the appointment date (when feedback from all departments is received). It will be changed to COMPLETED if all items are cleared and then you will be eligible to proceed to the Comptrollers’ Office to get back your General Deposit.

For further information, visit this page which outlines the clearance steps:​ocuments/pdfdoc/online-clearance-procedure.pdf

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