MS Thesis for MAT–Math student       Math 5399 (CRN 27055)

WELCOME!  ¡BIENVENIDOS!              Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Description from Graduate Catalog:  “Continuous enrollment required while work on thesis continues. Prerequisite: MATH 5398 or department approval.”


Meetings:  Will be arranged at mutually convenient times, supplemented by phone and email communication, to maintain progress towards completion of the thesis in a timely manner at an appropriate standard of quality.


Instructor:  Dr. Larry Lesser (rhymes with “professor”, spelled like “<”). I began teaching university classes in 1988 (I’ve been a UTEP Assoc. Prof. since 2004). I’ve served on national editorial and research advisory boards and published in selective research journals. More background at  (FYI:  from there, click “SCHEDULE” and at the top you can see this syllabus if you misplace yours, want to explore its links, or need to see syllabus updates that occur after today.)


How to reach me:  my official Bell Hall 213 office hours will start off as 10:30-11:30 TTh & by appointment, with additional hours and changes to be announced/posted on my door or website; also, feel free to ask me (or leave me) questions by phone (747-6845; “SIR OUIJA”) or email (Lesser (at) 


Textbook: no required textbook to buy; readings from the literature related to the thesis will be done on an as-needed basis


Grades:  there will be no formally graded intermediate assignments; only the final version of the thesis will be graded, using a holistic assessment of the overall quality of writing, as well as its originality, thoroughness of literature review, rigor of design/analysis, and thoughtfulness of discussion


Academic Integrity:  Plagiarism is a serious act which erodes the university’s purpose and integrity and cheapens the learning experience for us all.  It is expected that work you submit will represent your own effort and will cite references that you consult, using current APA style (American Psychological Association) with complete citations even for websites and people you consult. It’s UTEP’s policy (and mine) for all suspected violations to be referred to the Dean of Students for investigation and appropriate disposition (See Section 1.3.1 of the Handbook for Operating Procedures;


Disabilities: If you have or believe you have a disability that will require accommodations or modifications, you may wish to self-identify by contacting the Disabled Student Services Office (DSSO; 747-5148; East Union Building room 106;; to show documentation or register for testing and services.  DSSO will ask you to discuss needed accommodations with me within the first 2 weeks of the semester or as soon as disability is known.  You are responsible for making sure I receive any DSS accommodation letters and instructions.  DSSO provides note taking, sign language, interpreter, reader and/or scribe services, priority registration, adaptive technology, diagnostic testing for learning disabilities, assistance with learning strategies/tutoring, alternative testing location and format, and advocacy.  Information provided to DSSO is kept confidential.



is a webpage of resources for research that I maintain for classes like this; it includes links for literature search resources, a glossary, and how to get approval to conduct (local) research.


On a practical level, be aware of resources available via the UTEP Graduate School

( such as:




Remember that May 21 is the absolute deadline to turn in everything to the Grad School (but we don’t want to cut it close, of course).  Also be aware of the deadline to turn in the degree plan

  and apply for graduation


Make a note that at least 10 (but preferably 14) days in advance of your defense date, you’ll give an electronic (MSWord file .doc) copy of your thesis to each committee member so they have plenty of time to read it carefully.  Let them know that if they have suggestions or questions for you, that they can send those to you on or even before the thesis defense date (to give you a head start on addressing them). About a week in advance of the defense, you are required to submit the current draft of your thesis to the Graduate School for a “format check.”  Contact them (Olympia) if you have questions about how to do this.  Also, as soon as a defense date and time is set, you should try to reserve a room (usually Bell 132, Bell 125, or Bell 130A, depending on availability, technology needs, expected turnout, etc.).  Reserve it for 2 hours even though we’ll likely use only 1.5.  About 2-3 days in advance of the defense, a simple flyer will need to be made and posted around Bell Hall (the first part of thesis defenses are technically open to the public, even though it’s rare for many people to show up; feel free to invite any of your friends or colleagues to attend if you’d like) that says something like MAT THESIS DEFENSE, your name, your thesis title, the date/time/location, and a statement at the bottom to the effect of “For more information, contact thesis co-chairs Dr. Kien Lim or Dr. Larry Lesser”.  


the structure/agenda of a thesis defense: 


Usually, the defense begins by your giving a 15-20 minute presentation (usually with PowerPoint slides) that gives an overview of your thesis, emphasizing results more than literature review. This is a way to remind us of the “big picture” of what you did and also a great practice for giving talks on your work at conferences!   


After this is a time for all of us to discuss your work with you and identify any revisions or corrections that still need to be made.  Each committee member can give you detailed feedback on things like typos on the electronic or hardcopy of the thesis you gave them, so this is more the time to discuss any “bigger” concerns.  You should ask us questions to make sure you understand what we are asking you to do.  


Then, the committee will ask you (and any visitors still there) to step out of the room (probably for 5-15 minutes) so we can have any discussion we need to have to reach consensus on what work still remains to be done on the thesis and the timeline and supervision needed for that to happen in time to turn in the thesis by the final deadline. 


Then the committee will invite you back into the room and share any further information/conclusions with you.  (Later that day, we’ll produce an email for you that summarizes the main changes still needed so the consensus of the whole committee is clear and on record.) Some committee members will go ahead that day and sign signature pages (bring 3, just in case) and “Completion/Defense Form” (bring a couple of copies all filled in from the Grad School website, and some members may want to first see a version of the thesis with further corrections implemented.