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Appendix II: Thesis Guidelines

Types of Theses

The following seven types of theses are acceptable:

Investigative Thesis

The investigative thesis takes an in-depth look at a specific health problem or topic, describing its public health importance and analyzing it from a disciplined perspective. This thesis should include the following:

  • 1. Definition of the problem;
  • 2. Presentation of the study population and the methods by which data were acquired;
  • 3. Analysis of the results;
  • 4. Discussion of the implications of the results;
  • 5. Recommendations.

Research Study Demonstrating Mastery of Methodology

This type of thesis requires sophisticated analysis and application. Consequently, students should be sure of their readiness to undertake it. This thesis should include the following:

  • 1. Statement of methodological problem;
  • 2. Comparison of available solutions, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each;
  • 3. Either (a) Choice and application of one of the available solutions, or (b) Development of a new solution with discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of that solution.

Administrative Case Study

An administrative thesis defines, describes, analyzes, and interprets an actual administrative, problem-solving activity undertaken during a student’s field work. A variety of standard case study formats may be employed. An administrative case study thesis should be planned in advance with appropriate techniques for systematic observation and recording of data as the project progresses. This thesis usually includes the following:

  • 1. Definition of the problem;
  • 2. Description of setting, structure, function, and relationships;
  • 3. Relationship of student to problem (authority and accountability);
  • 4. Procedural description (case description, process, outcome);
  • 5. Analysis of events with reference to theory;
  • 6. Assessment of the administrative solution.

Program Analysis, Evaluation, or Projection

This type of thesis examines either retrospectively or prospectively some particular health problem. This thesis should include the following:

  • 1. Definition of the problem that the program addresses;
  • 2. Statement of program goals and objectives;
  • 3. Specification of available data such as the following:
  • a. Target population (characteristics, distribution, levels of protection, morbidity);
  • b. Historical information, goals, politics;
  • c. Resources and use of resources (acceptability, accessibility);
  • d. Basis of intervention, data on knowledge, attitudes and practices;
  • e. Cost analysis;
  • f. Specification of further data needs.

Special Project

This type of thesis incorporates a product useful in the teaching or practice of public health such as a curriculum, syllabus, or course for a school program or on-the-job training; specific educational aids (perhaps a computer-assisted learning experience, a programmed instruction course, or a training manual); a movie, videotape, or slide package; a pamphlet for use in health information; a set of formal administrative guidelines to implement a law or administrative decision; or architectural plans for a health facility.

In addition to the product, the student must produce a written analysis that includes the following:

  • 1. A rationale for the product and the anticipated audience/users;
  • 2. Review of relevant literature;
  • 3. Reasons for the selection of the chosen medium/method, including relevant theory;
  • 4. Proposal for method to evaluate the product;
  • 5. Discussion of the limitations of the product.

The special project may require review by the Committee on Academic Progress.

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Thesis Advisers (Readers)

The type of thesis, choice of topic, and details of methodology are the joint responsibility of the student and the thesis adviser (first reader). The thesis adviser is determined by mutual consent between the reader and the student and may or may not be the student’s faculty adviser. The thesis adviser must have a faculty appointment in the Yale School of Public Health.

The first reader must have a primary or secondary faculty appointment at YSPH. Acceptable appointments are: (1) ladder faculty at the rank of assistant professor and above, and (2) non-ladder faculty at the rank of associate research scientist and above. Students must request approval for first readers who have other types of non-ladder faculty appointments at YSPH (e.g., lecturer, instructor, etc.). To request approval, students need to provide the registrar with a copy of the first reader’s CV along with the thesis reader form for approval by the Committee on Academic Progress. Students unsure of whether someone has an appointment at YSPH should consult the comprehensive list of all faculty members, by department, at the front of the YSPH Bulletin.

The second reader should have a faculty appointment at YSPH, Yale University, or another outside academic institution. Students must request approval for second readers whose faculty appointment is outside of Yale or who do not have a faculty appointment at an academic institution. To do so, students must provide the registrar with a copy of the second reader’s CV along with the thesis reader form for approval by the Committee on Academic Progress.

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Timeline for M.P.H. Thesis

September Divisional meetings to review specific thesis requirements and timelines

October 30 Thesis reader forms (signed by both readers) due to registrar

November 2 First draft of thesis prospectus due to first reader (thesis adviser)

December 1 Final draft of thesis prospectus due to first reader (thesis adviser) and YSPH registrar (students will not be allowed to register for thesis credit the following term if the prospectus is not submitted)

Mid-March First draft of thesis due to readers (student should include a summary of major analyses and tables)

April 15 Deadline for final thesis to be submitted to readers for final grading

May 1 Deadline for final grades to be submitted to registrar from readers and for student submission of electronic copy

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The thesis must be assembled as follows:

  • A. Title Page (Title cannot exceed 60 characters)
  • B. A one-page, double-spaced abstract
  • The abstract is the final statement on the problem addressed by the thesis and should incorporate the most mature insights attained.
  • C. Acknowledgments (if desired)
  • D. Table of Contents
  • E. List of Tables (if any)
  • F. List of Figures (if any)
  • G. Body of the Thesis
  • The following organization of the body of the thesis is recommended:
  • 1. Introduction
  • a. Brief statement of specific objectives of the investigation
  • b. Statement of general problem addressed by the thesis
  • c. Elaboration of objectives and/or hypotheses, including the relation to the general problem
  • 2. Review of Studies Relevant to the Problem
  • 3. Research Design
  • a. Specific research design and method
  • b. Reasons for selection
  • c. Method of analysis, including justification for statistical tests
  • 4. Presentation and Analysis of Findings
  • This is the major portion of the thesis. The significance of the findings should be discussed and an assessment made of their applicability to current theory and practice. Analysis and discussion may be presented together in one chapter or separately in two chapters.
  • 5. Conclusions
  • a. Summary of findings
  • b. Limitations of findings and other limitations of the study
  • c. Conclusions based on the study
  • d. Relevant recommendations for program development or further research
  • H. References
  • A list of the pertinent references consulted in preparing the thesis should be included. Any standard and consistent format for presentation of footnotes and references is acceptable.
  • I. Appendix or Appendices

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Electronic Submission of Thesis

The final, completed version of the thesis must be submitted electronically, by midnight on May 1, at www.etdadmin.com/publichealthyale.

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Dean’s Prize for Outstanding Thesis

The Dean’s Prize for Outstanding Thesis may be awarded to a small number (maximum of four) of students for extraordinary academic achievement on the M.P.H. thesis. Thesis advisers who recognize a student’s work as truly exceptional may nominate the student for this prize. Winners are announced at the YSPH Commencement ceremony.

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Thesis Pending (Delayed Submission of Thesis)

Students who have not received final grades from both readers and submitted their thesis electronically by May 1 will be considered “thesis pending” and will receive a grade of “Incomplete” for the thesis. Students who are “thesis pending” will not be allowed to participate in the Commencement ceremony and will not receive the M.P.H. degree until all requirements are complete.

Students who are “thesis pending” are given one year to complete the thesis without penalty. At the end of the one-year period, the grade of “Incomplete” will be changed to a grade of “F” if the thesis has not been submitted. The student will be required to register for the thesis course and pay the per course unit tuition charge ($4,180 per course unit) in order to submit the completed thesis. All M.P.H. degree requirements including the thesis must be completed within five years of the student’s date of matriculation.

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Publication Guidelines

The thesis may be published independently. It also may be published under joint or multiple authorship if advisers or agency personnel have contributed significantly to the final product. Significance is interpreted to mean contributions such as expanding theory or techniques of analysis in ways beyond the usual role of an adviser. Supplying the database does not entitle the supplier to authorship. When students work on sponsored research, the thesis adviser and the student should sign a letter of agreement on funding, use of database or materials, deadlines, publication rights, and authorship before work on the thesis begins.

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Publication Process for the M.P.H. Thesis

The following are publication guidelines that are intended to avoid miscommunication and differential expectations of authorship between students and thesis advisers.

  • 1. When the prospectus is submitted, thesis advisers will discuss publication with students, including desire for publication, description of the publication process, possible venues, authors, determination of authorship order, and logistics.
  • 2. If the thesis adviser provides the data, then the adviser should create a written publication/data sharing agreement. The agreement should be signed by both the adviser and the student before work on the thesis is started. The agreement should include at the minimum:
  • Process for order of authorship
  • Timeline for publication and process if timeline is not met
  • Process and expectations of revisions
  • 3. If the thesis adviser does not provide the data, then the thesis adviser should work with the student to draft a similar document to be completed and signed by the student and the primary data source. Guidelines should be consistent with any established policies of the primary data source. This should be done whether or not the thesis adviser is included as an author on the publication.
  • 4. In general, if the manuscript has not been submitted for publication within a year after graduation, the thesis adviser will have the right to prepare the manuscript for publication.

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