M.S. in Consumer and Design Sciences



Program Overview

The M.S. in Consumer and Design Sciences (CADS) offers both a Thesis and a Non-Thesis Option. The Thesis Option requires a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate level coursework including a research or creative scholarship-based thesis and a final Oral Examination (presentation and defense of the thesis). The Non-Thesis Option requires a minimum of 30 semester hours. Students may choose to undertake a Graduate Project that could include creative scholarship, case study, course development, or design development. The Plan of Study is highly individualized, based upon the student’s academic background, work experiences, and career goals.

Teaching and/or research assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis, based upon program needs, student qualifications, and funding availability.

The following list suggests topical areas for advanced study in Consumer and Design Sciences:

  • • Consumer Behavior
  • • Interior Design
  • • Functional and Creative Apparel/Product Design
  • • Design Management
  • • Design Technologies
  • • Retail Management
  • • Retail and Merchandising Technologies
  • • Product Development
  • • Sustainability
  • • Creativity
  • • Forecasting and Trend Analysis
  • • Multicultural and Global Markets



Beyond basic requirements, each student’s program is tailored to his or her own educational objectives and goals through the selection of courses and topic for the thesis or project. Although coursework is taken primarily within CADS, courses from other departments may be identified as appropriate.

New students are advised by the Graduate Program Officer (GPO) for their first and perhaps second term. Coursework includes CADS requirements and electives. Following identification of a Major Professor (MP), elective selections are made in communication with and approved by the MP and the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC). CADS courses carrying graduate credit (numbered 6000-8000) include regularly scheduled courses and customizable courses that may be taken by a single or small group of students. A list of possible non-CADS supporting courses has been identified by CADS graduate faculty, but others may be suggested by a student.

 

Program Requirements



CADS Requirements for Thesis and Non-Thesis Options (4 credit hours)

  • CADS 7040 Protocol for Graduate Study (1) (Fall only)
  • CADS 7060 Survey of Consumer and Design Sciences Research (3) (Fall only)

Requirements for the M.S. – Thesis Option beyond CADS 7040 and 7060::
  • CADS 7050 Research Methods in Consumer and Design Sciences (3) (Spring only)

One of the following six theory courses:
  • CADS 7100 Environmental Design Theories and Applications (3)
  • CADS 7200 Aesthetics Theory and Consumer and Design Sciences (3) Pr./CR CADS 7050
  • CADS 7530 Sustainability Theory and Applications (3) Pr. CADS 7050
  • CADS 7670 Social Psychological Theories in Clothing Behavior (3) Pr./CR CADS 7050
  • CADS 7690 Consumer Theory in Apparel and Interiors (3) Pr. CADS 7050
  • CADS 8100 Apparel and Interiors Branding (3) Pr. CADS 7050

One statistics course (3-4 total hours): Selected from a list of choices in consultation with student's Major Professor or GPO

CADS 7990 Research and Thesis: (4-6 credit hours)
10-13 credit hours in CADS graduate courses; courses outside the Department may be approved for some of these hours.
Requirements for the M.S. Non-Thesis Option beyond CADS 7040 and 7060:
26 credit hours in CADS graduate courses;courses outside the Department may be approved for some of these hours.

Graduate students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher to remain in the Graduate School.

Related links to the Graduate School website include the following:

Master's Degree Information
Academic Progress & Grades
Master’s Degree Checklist 
Check if on track to graduation HERE.

 

Customized Program



Courses taken beyond the CADS-specific requirements should be taken to support the student’s post-graduate goals and fill in gaps in experience or knowledge identified by the student and GPO (initially), and ultimately by the student and their MP.

 

Major Professor



Within the first semester preferably, by no later than the end of the second semester, a master’s student must determine their MP. Both Level 1 and Level 2 CADS graduate faculty are eligible to serve as an MP for a CADS master’s student. It is a good idea to identify more than one possible faculty member in case your first choice is too busy or does not feel that their expertise links to your interests. A master’s student must schedule meetings with all faculty members with whom you may want to work so that you can describe your interests and goals, as well as their range of topical and methodological experience. Having two co-MPs is not uncommon and may be desirable for topical, methodological, or workload reasons.

Once you have decided whom you would like to have as your MP, you ask that professor if they are willing. If they agree to be your MP, submit the Declaration of Major Professor form.

A thesis master’s student must choose Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC), as described below, whereas a non-thesis master’s student chooses only an MP (no GAC).



 

M.S. Thesis Option





Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC)
After the MP is determined, a thesis master’s student will begin to talk with their MP about identifying members of their GAC. Each thesis master’s student’s Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) is composed of at least three faculty – a MP and two other graduate faculty members. The MP succeeds the GPO as advisor and chairs the GAC.
At least one GAC member, besides the MP, has to be a CADS graduate faculty member. Sometimes a student asks a professor in another department (whose course the student has taken) to be a member, but most often all members are CADS faculty. Sometimes there are reasons to have an extra member to make a committee of four including the MP. The committee must be identified prior to the student being able to complete the Plan of Study (POS). It is students’ responsibility to ask the faculty in person if they will serve on their GAC.

Once securing all GAC members’ agreement to serve on your GAC, submit the Committee, Transfers, Exceptions and Candidacy (CTEC) Form. This form must be submitted no later than the semester prior to the expected graduation.

Plan of Study (POS)
The POS is each student’s list of courses completed and to be completed to comply with Graduate School and CADS requirements. It is filled out in CADS Plan of Study Template.

Content of the POS should be decided with the MP. For thesis option, GAC members also may suggest courses, and the POS must be approved by all GAC members. To receive your GAC’s approval, the completed Plan of Study Template should be saved in a PDF file and then shared with the GAC by the MP for the GAC members to sign if they approve it. The approved POS should be submitted to the GPO for departmental records.

After approved by the GAC and filed with the GPO, the POS can still be revised if needed; revisions must be approved by your GAC by completing a new  Plan of Study Template. The approved revised POS should be submitted to the GPO for departmental records.

You are strongly encouraged to file your POS by the beginning of your third semester. It must be completed by one semester prior to the expected graduation semester (bulletin.auburn.edu/thegraduateschool/themastersdegreeprogram/).

Thesis Proposal Defense
A thesis is the written record of an original research project undertaken by a master’s student under the supervision of the MP and guidance of the GAC. Master’s students are encouraged to identify the focus or topic of their thesis early in their first year and begin to review relevant literature after they have identified their MP. The student works directly with the MP to develop a research plan that is presented in a proposal to the GAC for formal approval prior to execution and completion. A thesis proposal typically consists of the first three chapters of the thesis.

Click here for Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Guide: an overview of and specific Graduate School guidelines for the dissertation process, output, and submission.

The MP determines when the Proposal is ready for GAC review. The student is responsible for contacting GAC members to identify days and times of availability for a two-hour meeting, as well as to reserve a room for the meeting. Two weeks in advance of the meeting, the student provides committee members with proposal copies in digital and/or printed form (according to the wishes of individual members).

In the thesis proposal defense meeting, the student gives an oral presentation summarizing their thesis proposal. All graduate students and non-GAC faculty can be invited to the presentation portion of the defense meeting but are excused following the presentation. At this point, the GAC will query the student about any aspect of the proposal, with the goal of making sure that the planned research is well conceived and with the perspective of helping the student avoid pitfalls in execution. GAC members will likely have suggestions for revision of the proposal. Upon conclusion of the question and answer period, the student may be asked to temporarily leave the room while the GAC discusses approval of the proposed research. The GAC’s decision may be 1) approve as is, 2) approve pending revisions under the MP’s guidance (without requiring the GAC’s review of the revisions), or 3) revision requests (requiring the GAC’s review of the revisions). If the third option is chosen by the GAC, the student must revise the proposal according to the GAC’s feedback or write a new proposal and schedule another thesis proposal defence meeting.

Thesis Research Execution
The student works with the MP during the execution of the thesis research and composition of an acceptable draft of the thesis. The MP will indicate when the draft can be given to the GAC for approval. As with the proposal, two weeks should be allowed for members to review. 

Possible Sources of Financial Support for Thesis Research
Aside from students who pursue research allied with their MP’s funded research, there may be opportunities to apply or be nominated for Graduate School Awards and Grants, some of which have accompanying monetary awards. Further, professional organizations in your discipline may offer opportunities to apply or be nominated for graduate student awards and grants (e.g., the International Textile and Apparel Association [ITAA] sponsors competitive applications for a limited range of awards).

Registration During Thesis Work and Graduation Application
In any semester that the student is actively working with the MP on developing the proposal and completing the thesis, the Department requires that he/she must register for at least two hours of CADS 7990. To be reported as a full-time student when working full-time on the thesis after all required coursework is completed, domestic students on federal financial aid who need loan deferment as well as international students must submit the ABT (All-But-Thesis) form, which must be approved by MP and the Graduate School, by no later than 12 days prior to the beginning of the semester. The ABT form and submission directions can be found here. The ABT form must be submitted every semester (Fall/Spring only; Summer not required) with fewer than nine credit hours, and may be submitted up to 4 semesters.

Submit a Graduation Application (AU Access > My Academics > Grad Application) to the Graduate School in the semester preceding the graduation semester and notify the Graduate School advisor of the intention to graduate prior to the beginning of the graduation semester.

Thesis Final Examination (Thesis Defense)

The MP determines when the thesis is ready for GAC review. The master’s student can proceed with scheduling the Thesis Final Examination (thesis defense). The student is responsible for contacting GAC members to identify days and times of availability for a two-hour meeting, as well as to reserve a room for the meeting. Two weeks in advance of the meeting, the student provides GAC members with thesis copies in digital and/or printed form (according to the wishes of individual members). The student then submits the Request for Report of Master's Thesis Final Exam form, which must be done at least one week prior to the thesis defense.

In the thesis defense, the student gives an oral presentation summarizing their thesis. The presentation portion of the thesis defense is open to attendance by graduate students and non-GAC faculty, who will be excused following the presentation. At this point, the GAC will query the student about any aspect of the thesis. Final passage requires unanimous approval of all GAC members.

 

M.S. Non-Thesis Option





CTEC Form
Once securing all GAC members’ agreement to serve on your GAC, submit the Committee, Transfers, Exceptions and Candidacy (CTEC) Form. This form must be submitted no later than the semester prior to the expected graduation.

Plan of Study (POS)
The POS is each student’s list of courses completed and to be completed to comply with Graduate School and CADS requirements. It is filled out in CADS Plan of Study Template. CADS program requirements are pre-identified within the system. Other courses and terms taken need to be added.

Content of the POS should be decided with the MP. The completed Plan of Study Template should be saved in a PDF file, signed by the MP, and submitted to the GPO for departmental records. If any revision is needed for POS, a new Plan of Study Template can be approved by the MP and submitted to the GPO for departmental records.

The final POS submission must be completed by one semester prior to the expected graduation semester.

Graduation Application
Submit a Graduation Application (AU Access > My Academics > Grad Application) to the Graduate School in the semester preceding the graduation semester and notify the Graduate School advisor of the intention to graduate prior to the beginning of the graduation semester.