The Final Steps toward the HNC Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)

The Final Steps toward the HNC Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)

Grace Faerber (HNC MAIS International Politics ‘22) wraps up her master's degree at the HNC!

I successfully defended my thesis! Just like I did with other steps throughout my process as a second-year MA in International Studies (MAIS) student - the most signature component of which is the thesis - I will write about my experience here and give some insight into what happens behind-the-scenes.

For those who may be unfamiliar, the thesis defense is one of the last major milestones in the HNC MAIS program. In addition to completing all of your course requirements, you go through several steps when it comes to your last semester to qualify for graduation:


Written thesis 

The first is completing your written thesis. I went through several rounds of edits and meetings with my thesis advisor before my final thesis draft was approved by her in May. 



After sending your final draft to HNC administration staff ,they share with you some paperwork requiring more information on your thesis topic, your experience, information about you as a student and so on. Then they schedule your thesis defense! Your thesis and your paperwork are sent to your thesis defense panelists about a week in advance so they can read it. 


Thesis Defense

For the defense, you meet with a panel of HNC professors - usually composed of professors in your concentration area and/or whose courses you have taken. For me as an international politics student I had taken one of the three professors’ courses before. The defense experience and my preparation are laid out below:



I was informed when the defense was scheduled to prepare a ten minute presentation introducing my thesis. A powerpoint was not required, but I have always found throughout my time as a HNC student that having slides to refer to helps me in my speaking! I prepared about a five-slide presentation, using some of the information breaking down my thesis that I had submitted for the paperwork step. It covered my topic, theory, issues studied, and the importance/value of my thesis to international politics. 


I prepared my presentation a few days in advance, and was asked to give the presentation right at the beginning of the thesis defense. 



After my presentation, each of the three professors took their turn asking questions and giving their critiques of my thesis, which they had all also read ahead of time. I was asked a couple of questions about my thoughts on issues discussed in my thesis, but mainly received critiques about the theory and other academic aspects of the paper. They also offered aspects of the thesis they enjoyed and celebrated positive points like the topic’s value. 


Final Decision

Following the Q&A session you are asked to leave the room (in my case, are put in the Zoom waiting room) while the professors discuss. They take a vote and make a decision on if they approve your thesis and decide to grant you the MAIS degree, essentially approving your graduation. After deliberating you are brought back to the room, and, in my case, told you have been approved!