Master's Thesis Procedure 2019 - 2020

The Master’s thesis is an important part of your Master's Programme. The thesis is written individually and in English.

Below you can find information about the time schedule and deadlines, the regulations, the U.S.E. thesis award, and some tips.

Period 2

Kick-off event for each MSc programme will be organised in the week of 18-22 November (Details will be provided by your programme’s thesis coordinator). You will be informed about

  • Potential thesis topics
  • Potential supervisors and co-readers
  • Guidelines in case you want to propose your own topic
  • Opportunities for a research internship in combination with your thesis

A second supervisor (‘co-reader’) will be involved in the process specifically for the following tasks: (i) to approve the research proposal and set up of the thesis, and (ii) to read the final manuscript as approved by the first supervisor, and to determine the thesis grade in consultation with the first supervisor. Matchmaking with your supervisor and co-reader is usually done in December 2019, and no later than January 2020.


Period 3 (5 ECTS)
At the end of period 3 you are supposed to have written a full research proposal. This implies you have done initial literature research, addressed a research gap, drafted research questions, and develop a plan for empirical data analysis.
You are usually also supposed to have collected the empirical material for your thesis, or at minimum, developed a plan for data collection.

April 6 - 9

You present and/or discuss your research proposal in a meeting withyour supervisor and co-reader.
The proposal will be graded (weight 10%, see the evaluation form 10%). When your progress is insufficient at this point, you will have to put in substantial extra effort in period 4 to be able to finish your thesis in time. 


Period 4 (10 ECTS)
Writing process. You collect any remaining data and missing literature, analyse data, and write your thesis.

June 15 - 22
You present and/or discuss your draft thesis in a meeting or final seminar organized by your supervisor and co-reader, and receive final comments. 

June 26
Hand in the final (digital) version of your thesis to your supervisor and co-reader.The thesis will be graded (weight 90%, see the evaluation form 90%).

July 10
Deadline for supervisor to hand in the grade at the student administration.


Number of meetings
You will usually first meet your supervisor in January (or as soon as possible after the matchmaking process). A co-reader (second supervisor) will also be involved in the process. Depending on the topic and common type of research that is applicable (e.g, quantitative, qualitative), thesis supervisors may apply different formats regarding number of meetings, deadlines, etc. The typical thesis process includes around 7-8 meetings with your supervisor during period 3 and 4, but deviations are possible.  

Theses need to be handed in digitally (by email) to the thesis supervisor. In case your supervisor requests a paper version, you may hand it in personally or leave it at the student information desk Economics, who will then ensure the supervisor receives the thesis. The supervisor checks the thesis on plagiarism, grades it, and hands in the final version of the thesis and the two evaluation forms (evaluation form 10% and evaluation form 90%) to the Student Information Desk.

For the research proposal (10%) no retake is possible. For the final thesis (weight 90%) a retake is possible. Conditions: A retake can only be done if your thesis is graded with a 5 and this opportunity is provided only once. Your supervisor will provide you with one-time feedback of what should be improved. The new deadline to hand in the thesis is August 10, after which the grade will be handed in by the supervisor at the latest by August 17. In the meantime, no additional feedback or guidance can be claimed from the supervisor (holiday season). Moreover, the new (final) grade cannot be higher than a 6; this is only to be fair to students who finish their finish in shorter time. If your thesis is graded with a 4 or less, no opportunity is offered to revise and re-submit.

In some circumstances the June 26 deadline may be extended. See ‘Regulations’ (hereafter).

  1. All theses must be written and finished within semester 2.
  2. All theses will be checked on plagiarism.
  3. In agreement with the second supervisor, the thesis supervisor will determine the final grade and fill in the Thesis Evaluation Form, which is then presented to you.
  4. The supervisor grades the thesis within 10 working days from receiving the material, and makes sure the results are processed administratively.
  5. In case of special personal circumstances, the Board of Examiners may grant a postponement of the deadline, following consultation with the MSc coordinator.
  6. When you have stopped working on your thesis during semester 2 for other reasons than special personal circumstances, or do not hand in your thesis on time, or when you received an insufficient grade, you will have to start again in the next academic year (at the kick-off event in November), with a new thesis subject and new supervisor.
  7. For the research proposal no retake is possible. For your thesis a retake is possible if the supervisors have graded your thesis with a 5. The retake is a once-only possibility for an additional test: the opportunity to adapt the thesis in few weeks. The new deadline to hand in the thesis is August 10, after which the grade will be handed in by the supervisor at the latest by August 17. The new grade for your thesis cannot be higher than a 6.
  8. In addition to the cum laude classification in art. 6.2 of the Education and Examination Regulations: if you do an external research in combination with your thesis and this prevents you to graduate in one year, and as a consequence you do not qualify for a cum laude graduation, the Board of Examiners may apply a special (leniency) regulation.

It is not mandatory, but we recommend you submit your thesis to the Students Theses Archive.

Each year the top Master's thesis from all Utrecht University School of Economics 1-year MSc programmes is recognized with the U.S.E. Master's Thesis Award. The thesis needs to be written and completed in semester 2 and is chosen for its relevance, academic merit, and particularly for its integration of a ‘real world perspective’ into an economics issue. The author of the winning thesis is awarded with a certificate and cash prize during the Master’s Graduation ceremony.

Please check our Studentsite for other thesis awards.

Tips and tricks about academic research, writing skills, etcetera you can find in the Thesis Manual and Toolbox (this is not available yet)

For workshops, courses and individual writing tutoring see the Skills lab and Libguide for an overview on much consulted information sources Economics

We have also created four YouTube tutorials to help you organize and write the thesis:

  1. Finding references and including them efficiently in your thesis
  2. How to structure the master thesis
  3. Tips and tricks of managing the thesis and communicating with your supervisor
  4. How to convert your STATA output automatically into nice Word Tables.

U.S.E. has acquired subscriptions to Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS), Compustat, Bank Focus, and Eikon. Compustat covers financial information and executive compensation data for publicly listed companies in the United States. WRDS provides access to Compustat and other free databases using a Web interface, SAS, Matlab, Python and R. Furthermore, WRDS offers a cloud environment with a SAS 9.4 installation. WRDS and Compustat can be accessed through and are available to all U.S.E. staff and students. Bank Focus is accessible through Bureau van Dijk (see; select Economie and then Amadeus).

Nicola Zaugg is the student assistant who can be approached by staff and students for questions related to these data. If you need help with one of the databases, please visit and fill in the contact form.