Directed Research and Thesis Information


The following slides are from a presentation given by Joyce Hwang, Director of Graduate Studies, in Spring 2024. The purpose of the presentation was to assist students with understanding the process and requirements for doing Directed Research and Thesis as their culminating experience in the graduate program. The portfolio culminating experience option was also discussed during the presentation. 

Preparing for Directed Research/Thesis

Students in the M.Arch program must either do a Thesis or Portfolio to meet their culminating experience requirement for graduation. 

Thesis includes two semesters (or more) of work. To start, students should identify a general area of interest. What are you interested in studying, exploring, learning? It's recommended that students review the department website and read about the work of various faculty members. Students are also encouraged to meet with the Director of Graduate Studies (Joyce Hwang) to discuss their research ideas and overall thesis process. 

Once the student has decided they would like to pursue a Thesis, they should email Stacey Komendat, graduate advisor, to let her know. Once approved, the student will be forced registered into the ARC 567 (Directed Research) course for the appropriate semester. The student is not responsible for identifying a Committee Chair before registration as this process will be be part of the course itself. 

Students who take Directed Research in the fall semester should plan to be registered for Thesis in the spring semester. Students who take Directed Research in the spring semester should plan to be registered for Thesis in the fall semester. Students who wish to do Directed Research or Thesis must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Those with lower than a 3.5 GPA must petition to the department before gaiining approval for Thesis.  

During the Directed Research course, faculty will assist the student with developing their thesis idea along with identifying their Thesis committee., Students ultimately will need at least two committee members from the UB faculty. The Committee Chair needs to be either tenured, tenured-track, or clinical faculty. External advisors are acceptable as well, but these individuals are not officially on the students committee and they will not sign any official paperwork and the department does not provide any honoraria or payment for external advisors. Students should plan to meet with their advisors regularly (approximately once a week) throughout their Thesis semester. 

Registration Process for Directed Research (ARC 567)

Once students have decided that they would like to take the directed research (ARC 567) course the next semester, students should email Stacey Komendat at by the dates designated below. The students record will be checked to determine if they meet the 3.5 GPA and are eligible to take the course. 

  • Fall Registration- Email by April 22nd. 
  • Spring Registration- Email by November 22nd. 

Research Methods (ARC 616) Course

Any student who is interested in doing a thesis in the future is encouraged to take research methods as an elective. Students planning to do directed research are highly encouraged to register during the same semester. 

The ultimate goal of the course is to guide graduate students to develop a methodological and theoretical grounding for thesis projects. This will be done through reading assignments, writing exercises, group discussions, and peer review sessions. By the end of the semester, each student will have the opportunity to develop a high quality research prospectus. This course is less about deep theoretical discussions on research than a pragmatic, “how-to” dive into devising a specific roadmap and organizational configuration tailored to each student’s potential future thesis work.

GPA Requirement Waiver

Students who do not need the minimum GPA requirement may petition to the department to be allowed to pursue a Thesis. They must submit the form below to Stacey Komendat the semester before they wish to be registered. 

Thesis Research Funds

Students who have completed Directed Research may apply to the department for Thesis Research funds. The form below must be completed with signature from the student's Committee Chair.  Students should send the form to Stacey Komendat at

Students who have thesis funds as part of their admissions offer should refer to their official offer letter for allotted amount. Students can only be awarded up to $500 unless their offer letter states a higher amount. 

Registration Process for Thesis (ARC 699)

Students who are currently registered for Directed Research will be registered for Thesis once the department receives approval from the Committee Chair through the Completion of Directed Resrearch Form. Students should follow up withthe department before the add/drop deadline if they are not yet regsitered for Thesis and this is their expection. Students who are not approved to move on to Thesis will instead be registered for research studio and should plan to complete the portfolio course as their culminating experience. 

Mid-Term and Final Reviews

Each student in Directed Research and Thesis should plan for two reviews during the semester. These include a mid-term review and a final review.  Final Reviews will be organized by the Department. Students will be contacted in the fall and spring semester with more information on the Final Review process. 

Submitting Your Thesis to the Graduate School

At the end of the Thesis semester and following the approved final review, students will be required to obtain signatures from their Committee on their M form (indicating that their thesis was approved by their committee) and submit the form to their Graduate Advisor before the due date in which conferral documents must be submitted to the Gradaute School. She will then obtain the Chair's signature and submit the form to the Gradaute School on the students behalf. The Graduate Advsior will also then mark the "culminating experience" requirement as complete on the students AAR once the M form with signatures has been received. 

Students must also upload their thesis electronically to the Graduate School via the ETD Administrator site by the date in which conferral documents are due. Detailed information on this process, including deadlines each semester, can be found on the Graduate School Electronic Thesis Guidelines website link below. 


International students taking thesis and registered for OPT should consult ISS to confirm their allowable dates for thesis book submission and conferral.

Extending Thesis Completion to a Later Semester

If a student cannot complete their thesis/submit the required documentation by the Graduate School deadline and must push graduation to a later semester, they need to submit a Petition to Change their Expected Graduation Term. This form should be submitted to their Graduate Advisor by the end of the semester with necessary signatures (your advisor is your Committee Chair). The form must ultimately be send to the Registrar. 

Registration for Thesis after Extension

Students pushing thesis completion to the fall or spring semester must be registered for at least one credit of thesis. Students pushing graduation to the summer semester may or may not need to be registered for thesis over the summer. Please see below. 

Domestic Students Extending Thesis Completion to the Summer

Domestic students do not need to be registered for thesis over the summer. They must submit their Petition to Change their Graduation Term indicating a change to the summer term and then submit their M form and upload their thesis to the Graduate School before the summer deadline posted on the Gradaute School site. In order to graduate, any incomplete on the students record must also be changed to a letter grade when grades are due at the end of the summer term or earlier.

International Students Extending Thesis Completion to the Summer

International students on F1 or J1 visa may or may not need to be registered for one credit to thesis over the summer term (if planning to graduate that semester) and complete a Final Semester Reduced Course Load Form. To determine this, international students must contact an advisor from International Student Services. Students should discuss their OPT status with the ISS advisor and follow up with their graduate advisor from the Department of Architecture following the meeting.  

The same as domestic students, international students must also submit their Petition to Change their Graduation Term to the summer, submit their M form and upload their thesis to the Graduate School before the summer conferral deadline. In order to graduate, any incomplete on the students transcript must also be changed to a letter grade when grades are due at the end of the summer term or earlier.