Master's Projects - Proposal

The proposal should contain three parts: (1) scope of work, (2) work plan, and (3) team charter. Part one should include these five sections: (1) introduction, (2) statement of objectives, (3) materials and methods, (4) expected results/format of report, and (5) literature citations. A review of the relevant literature sufficient to support the topic of research is required. In addition, statements specifying credit, advisors, and type of financial support should be included as outlined below. Part two should contain the work plan or timeline, and may be attached as a separate document, if using Excel or other project management formats. Finally, Part three should outline roles and responsibilities of the team in the form of a team charter. The full proposal should not exceed 15 pages in length, double-spaced, including the cover page. The subheadings below should be used to indicate clearly the sections of the proposal. (You may use additional subheadings if you wish.)

Part I: Scope of Work

  1. The Cover Sheet. The Cover Sheet. The cover sheet must give the title, author (or authors in the case of a group MP), MP advisor’s name, date and degree, and allow space for the author/s to sign and space for the MP advisor’s signature of approval. (click here for a sample)
  2. Title. Give a tentative title to the project. Keep it succinct. Seven words or fewer are preferred.
  3. Introduction. Describe the problem you will be working on and why it is important. Include a concise literature review to relate your problem to previous work and set the stage for the approach you will take. If applicable, describe the client involved and their interest in the project. [2-4 pages]
  4. Objective. State specifically the hypothesis you will test, the objectives you will fulfill, or the question you will answer with your MP work. [<1 page]
  5. Methods and Sources of Support. Describe the methods to be used in the project, including, as appropriate, research approach, data to be used or means of data collection, and plans for data analysis. Be specific and identify significant subtasks related to each part of your project. State any research support needed in terms of supplies, space, equipment and money. Identify source(s) of financial support (e.g., case study funds, research project of professor, school support, grant, etc.). Note whether you will require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for data collection involving human subjects, or whether you will operate under a nondisclosure agreement. [2-3 pages]
  6. Expected Results and Format of Report. Identify the expected results of the project and/or the deliverables to be produced (e.g., management plan, tabular summaries of data, confirmation of hypothesis, policy recommendations, computer model, etc.). State the format of the final product and its intended audience. If appropriate, identify likely journals for publication of your research. [1-2 pages]
  7. Literary Citations. Give full, standard citations for any references referred to in the text of your proposal. Consult an appropriate manual of style or the Duke Library website.
  8. Faculty. List all faculty who have agreed to serve as advisers or cooperators in your project, along with their affiliations (School or other department). Indicate the primary adviser(s) responsible for evaluating the project.
  9. Submit the SCOPE OF YOUR WORK

Part II: Work Plan

  1. Timeline of Tasks, Deliverables, and Events. Outline the various steps of project completion from start to finish. Include all significant milestones. For example, this could include completion of your literature review and other background research, as well as intermediate steps related to your data collection and planned analysis. It is highly recommended that you use a Gantt chart or an equivalent Excel spreadsheet (e.g. with individual tasks and milestones as rows and dates in columns), with ongoing tasks specified at a biweekly resolution. Your timeline should also include standing client meetings, if relevant.
  2. Submit your WORK PLAN

Part III: Team Charter

Note: Even students participating in Individual MPs need to complete this section. You and your advisor are considered a “team”.

  1. Team Roles and Responsibilities. Assign each team member a role and associated responsibilities to be fulfilled during completion of the MP.

    Team Member

    (include each student, advisor, client representative, and additional collaborators)


    (e.g., “Client Liason”, “Advisor”)


    (e.g., “Read drafts and provide feedback”, “Organize meetings with client”)



  2. Regular Meeting Schedule. Outline how often, in what way, and with whom your MP team will meet. This includes regular team meetings, as well as standing meetings with your advisor and, if relevant, client. Frequency and content of the meetings is up to the collective discretion of the team.
  3. Miscellaneous Team Expectations. Describe any additional agreements your MP team comes up with. (E.g., how to handle potential conflicts, preferred means of communication, data sharing and storage, etc.)
  4. Team Purpose and Mission: What are the top priorities and goals of each individual team member during this two terms?
  5. Are there any individual goals that could be in conflict with the Team Purpose/Mission? If so how will you address them?
  6. How will your team resolve conflict?
  7. How can you most effectively handle scenarios in which team members are not pulling their weight or not living up to the expectations outlined in this charter?
  8. How will you have difficult conversations? (Each member have to give an answer)
  9. What steps will you take to understand and know each other better?
  10. How do you want to promote ongoing integration and camaraderie within the team?
  11. Submit your TEAM CHARTER