Thesis Planning

IMPORTANT NOTE: As we move forward with a School of Public Health, we will require matriculating students to complete a Field Experience in lieu of the thesis project. The below information applies to students who matriculated before Fall 2014.

The thesis is a reflection of the student’s creativity, a chance to practice skills that were learned during graduate training, and an “advertisement” of the student’s competence that will help move the student into additional training programs or into new career opportunities. The thesis should not be viewed as a hurdle that cannot be jumped, or a barrier to hinder progress. It is an opportunity to do excellent work. Most ‘seasoned’ scientists will say that working with students on their thesis is an exciting experience, since the students are likely to be doing the very best work of their careers; the students can concentrate and focus their energy at this point in their development, perhaps better than at any other point in their careers. If the thesis is viewed as a unique opportunity to demonstrate competence and to showcase the student’s “very best work,” the process will be a much more interesting and rewarding experience.

Defense Deadlines

Whenever you defend, you have only 6 weeks after the defense to complete all requirements. The clock starts on the day of your defense. So while everybody takes a night (or a few days) to celebrate, you must quickly attend to any additional analyses and writing that your committee requires. Typically this is done with the guidance of your chair. When you have satisfied the chair, circulate the final draft to the rest of your committee and give them a week to review and sign off. It is your responsibility to watch the calendar and submit thesis binding receipt and exit contact form to our office. Please note that the thesis binding process has changed, and the library now digitizes final thesis projects.

Be careful not to defend too close to the end of an academic term!  If the 6 weeks after your oral exam happen to extend into the next term (even by one day), you will be required to pay for 1 thesis credit for that following term because the following term becomes the term in which you graduate.

We advise you to schedule your defense when you are reasonably sure your revisions will be minimal and that your committee will be able to get their approval of the final product squared away pretty quickly. And, plan on paying for 1 credit in the term after you defend if any of the six weeks spill into that next term – there may be unanticipated delays.

Please also note that OHSU no longer makes students wait until the end of the academic year to award the degree. You will be awarded your degree at the end of the term in which you submitted your final paperwork. You will be eligible to participate in the spring graduation ceremony of whatever academic year you completed the paperwork. (There is only one ceremony per year.) Please note that the academic year for OHSU begins with summer term. 

If you want to participate in the graduation ceremony this year (walk across the stage), you will need to defend by April 30 AND submit final paperwork by May 20.


Happy Lab for MPH Students

The department is pleased to offer some additional assistance to MPH students working on their thesis projects. "Happy Lab" provides short term data management and statistical software guidance to students who are enrolled in thesis credits.  MPH alumna Priya Srikanth serves as our Happy Lab instructor. Priya will hold regular office hours in the PHPM computer lab throughout the year.  

MPH students who have registered for thesis credits should send a note to requesting assistance and describe the guidance/advice they might need.   Once a request is received, Priya will either answer student questions via email, notify students to attend the standing Happy Lab office hours, or set up individual meetings as her time allows. So that Happy Lab may benefit as many students as possible, each individual student can request a maximum of 10 hrs assistance during a quarter.  

Happy Lab office hours for the fall term:  Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, 9:00-11:30am. 
Office location:  CSB 642
Happy Lab Phone:  503-494-4246

Other Notes:

1. This service is available only to students who are actually registered for MPH thesis credits.
2. Your MPH Thesis Mentor and your committee's biostatistician will be cc’d on correspondence between student and Happy Lab instructor.

Thesis Resources

Thesis Guidelines (MPH Students)

The thesis guidelines in the MPH Handbook provides a detailed explanation of the purpose of the thesis, how to select a thesis chair and committee, and how to navigate the IRB process. The MPH Handbook also has MPH and MD-MPH checklists which you may find helpful.

Public Use Data Sets - possible sources of thesis data

The OHSU Library's Thesis Processing Page

Scheduled Thesis Seminars

Thesis Forms

Thesis Titles of MPH Alumni - all MPH thesis titles since the program began