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Queen's University

Thesis-Based stream

Some students enrolled in the MA program wish to undertake more prolonged research that will lead to a full Master's thesis. Students can therefore apply to move from the course-based stream into the thesis-based stream at the beginning of the winter term.

Thesis-based stream details

Students take five half-courses.

These include the core courses DEVS 801* (Political Economy of Development), DEVS 802* (Cultural Politics of Development), DEVS 850* (Professional Seminar in Global Development Studies), and two further courses from inside or outside the department. 

During their first year, students design a research program that will lead to a Master’s Thesis. The thesis is a work of 75-100 pages long and makes an original contribution to the field of global development studies.

Completion normally takes 18-24 months.

Why do a thesis?

The thesis option gives students the time necessary to pursue a deeper program of research, often involving fieldwork or other primary data collection. The student  completes five half-courses, rather than six in the course-based program. This is to allow the student time to develop a concentrated program of research that will result in an original thesis that uses primary data. The thesis will be between 75-100 pages and will be defended before a committee of three examiners. Notably, this option provides research experience that better prepares students for doctoral studies or other forms of research-based work.

How do I apply?

Students applying to the Global Development Studies MA Program who think they might be interested in an eventual switch to the two-year research stream are encouraged to contact potential supervisors at the time of their application to discuss research interests and availability. They should discuss a focused thesis topic, funding options, and data collection processes early and consistently during the fall term with their potential supervisor, in order to submit a strong thesis stream application. They should also take the initiative to apply for external scholarships (e.g. SSHRC in October/November and OGS in January).

The deadline for applications to switch into the thesis-based stream is January 15.  Please submit the following to the Graduate Assistant by this date:

  • a detailed research proposal (up to 5 pages, including a budget for field work if intended);
  • a letter of support from your supervisor stating any funding commitments.

Criteria for acceptance

Successful applicants will be chosen on the basis of:

  • Academic merit: a minimum average of A-  from the Fall courses is required to be considered.
  • Strong supervisory link: you must have a suitable supervisor with good expertise in your prospective research area who is keen to support and supervise your work.
  • Coherent proposal: you need to demonstrate a strong and coherent proposal for a thesis.

Funding for the second year

Please be aware that, if accepted into the thesis-based stream, the department will do its best to find additional sources of funding such as TA-ships and RA-ships through faculty members' research grants.  Unfortunately, beyond the standard Queen's Graduate Award (QGA) allowance, DEVS cannot guarantee that such funds will be available.


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000