M.R.P. Exit Project Options

Jump to:

General Information

All CRP graduate students are required to complete an exit project paper. Master of regional planning (M.R.P.) students can prepare a research paper, professional report, or master's thesis. CRP faculty strongly encourage M.R.P. students to prepare a professional report or a research paper. M.R.P. students also have the option of completing a master's thesis if they secure, by the end of second-semester classes, a conditional agreement by a CRP faculty member to oversee the thesis preparation. M.R.P. students must also pass a final oral examination given by their graduate committee. The student's written document should essentially be complete before the oral examination is scheduled, and the examination must be held in accordance with graduate school regulations. Students must register for exit project credits using this web form. The class numbers for a research paper are CRP 8901 (research) and CRP 8902 (writing); for a professional report are CRP 8903 (research) and CRP 8904 (writing), and for a master's thesis are CRP 8905 (research) and CRP 8906 (writing).

Students should work closely with their graduate committee regarding the scope, content, and organization of the submitted document and the nature of the final examination. A student's graduate committee must consist of at least two members of the graduate faculty or other faculty members approved by the graduate school. Both committee members must attend the final oral examination and sign the appropriate forms. It is the student's responsibility to ensure the independent writing requirements are satisfied.

All exit project papers must meet the format requirements of the graduate school. M.R.P. students should consult the Academic Programs Coordinator Tina Nelson regarding these requirements. When approved by the student's graduate committee, a copy of the final document will be filed in the Fine Arts Library and the second copy will be permanently placed in the University Archives.

M.R.P. Project Options

The three options for completing the independent writing requirement are:

Research Paper (CRP 8901 and 8902)

Research papers are generally not more than 40 pages in length, plus notes and bibliography, and constitute the written product resulting from the student's independent research effort. A student earns 4 credits for a research paper. Typically, a research paper builds on research previously initiated by the student in a particular class. A student may not submit a paper previously submitted during a class. A student may, however, expand on or substantially revise a previously submitted paper as the basis for the research paper. Alternatively, a student may write a research paper to satisfy this requirement without basing it on work previously undertaken during a class. The scope of the research undertaken and the scope of the paper are intended to be substantially less than that required for a master's thesis.

Professional Report (CRP 8903 and 8904)

The professional report reflects a student's efforts to solve a practical, real-world planning problem. A student may earn 4–10 credits for the professional report, with the actual number of credits determined by the student's graduate committee. Under most circumstances, the professional report will take the form of a report, study, or other document prepared for a real-world client (e.g. a municipality, a community organization, a research firm, a consulting firm, or a developer; or a federal, state, international, or nongovernmental agency). Under special circumstances, the professional report may have a hypothetical client or be aimed more generally at the public, representing the student's creative solution to an important planning problem. In all circumstances, the student's graduate committee will determine what additional elements may be appropriate for inclusion in the professional report. These additional elements may include materials describing the work done by the student for the client, a literature search, a description of the methodology employed in preparing material for the client, and the student's assessment of his or her experience in working for the client. The professional report may include but not be limited to work a student does for a client during a summer internship or during a fieldwork class.

Master's Thesis (CRP 8905 and 8906)

Generally, 75–125 pages in length, plus notes and bibliography, the master's thesis constitutes the written product resulting from the student's independent research effort. A student may earn between 6 and 10 credits for the master's thesis, with the actual number of credits to be determined by the student's graduate committee. The thesis should make an original contribution to knowledge in the field of planning, and demonstrate the student's familiarity with the literature and current debates in the field. Students planning to pursue a Ph.D. in the future should choose the thesis option, as most Ph.D. programs require it.

Suggested Exit Project Schedule

The following time frame is recommended in order to complete the M.R.P. degree within two years. Please be aware that this schedule is very tight.

Two-year M.R.P. time frame.
Year Term Tasks
First Fall Explore ideas, meet with faculty; attend seminars across campus.
First Spring Begin discussing exit project ideas with chair; start initial background reading
First Summer Begin research of fieldwork
Second Fall Clarify focus; work with chair on defining a question that links the literature to your data and method
Second January Finish analysis and writing
Second Early February First draft submitted
Second Late February First draft returned with comments
Second March Final draft submitted before spring break
Second April Thesis examination must be scheduled one week in advance

Direct questions about M.R.P. credits, core requirements, and format of the thesis to the academic programs coordinator.

Defense Procedure

Final examinations to defend exit projects are scheduled at the discretion of the committee, based on the project's level of completion. The defense is a discussion between the student and special committee about the student's project.

Note: Some students record their defense to capture the conversation for future use when making final edits.

At least one week prior to the defense date, complete a Schedule of Examination Request form (visit the Academic Forms page to fill out).

  • Submit the form to the academic programs coordinator with all required signatures
  • On the day of the defense, you must bring the following additional form(s):
  1. Approval of Thesis form: Print two copies on archival paper to be bound into your final exit project. This form is not available online and must be obtained by the academic programs coordinator in 106 West Sibley Hall. Typically the second committee member will sign the Approval of Thesis form at the defense. The chair will sign the form once all required edits have been made for the final draft. Keep these forms to submit to Cornell Print Services with the final draft.
  2. Results of Examination Request form: This form is not on archival paper. Both committee members will sign this form. Submit the form to the academic programs coordinator after the defense.

Formatting and Submitting the Exit Project

Before writing, contact the academic programs coordinator for a copy of the "M.R.P. Exit Project Guidelines."

M.R.P. students must email the academic programs coordinator a draft of the exit project as a Word document (.doc) for formatting review before it is copied and bound. Please submit the exit project to the academic programs coordinator for final formatting at least two days prior to the Graduate School deadline. The coordinator will review the document for formatting issues including margins, illustrations, page numbering, etc. and will email it back with minor corrections already made, or a list of corrections still needed. Presently, M.R.P. students cannot submit the exit project electronically; bound paper copies must be submitted to the academic programs coordinator. Please note that the copying and binding process can take up to six to eight weeks, so allow plenty of time for each step, but note that the final deadline for submission is the final day of the semester.

All bound exit projects must be standard 8-1/2" x 11", black cover, gold lettering, single-sided print — do not select two-sided print. You must submit two bound copies to the academic programs coordinator.

Exit Project Submission Process

  1. Print the Approval of Thesis forms on archival paper (see the academic programs coordinator) and obtain signatures from committee members.
  2. Hand deliver the signed forms to Cornell Print Services (to Chad O'Shea or Belinda Leonardo) at 695 Dryden Road.
  3. When you upload the document to the link below, in the comments field be sure to note that one copy of the approval page needs to be bound between the title page and the copyright page of each of two required copies. 
  4. Visit Cornell Print Services
  5. Click on the "Dissertation, Thesis, and Architecture Portfolio" link
  6. Click on the link to enter the online order system and place your order
  7. If you do not already have an account, you will be asked to create one at this time
  8. Click on "Start a New Order"
  9. If you are paying with a credit card, select "Student Orders – Credit Card Payment, Taxable"
  10. If you are paying with your bursar account, select "I Have Made Special Arrangements for Payment"
  11. Click on "Continue to Select Items"
  12. Click on "Other Printing" and then "Hard Bound Books" and "Click Here to Order"
  13. Fill in the printing detail fields and click on "Calculate Price"
  14. Click "Continue"
  15. Fill in the fields for your title and spine text
  16. Click on the arrow to upload your file. A pop-up window will appear. Click on the large arrow in the window and select your text file for your thesis. The pop-up window will close when your upload is complete, and a preview of your file will appear in the lower-left corner of the screen.
  17. Click "Check Out"
  18. Review your PDF proof, check the box indicating that you have done so, and click on "Accept Proof." If there are errors in your proof, you can go back and make changes by clicking "Cancel" rather than "Accept Proof"
  19. Review your quantity and make changes at this time if needed
  20. Enter your shipping information and click "Click Here To Go To Billing Page"
  21. Select "Campus Delivery" for items being sent to an office on campus or being picked up at Print Services. Select UPS Ground for any order that is being delivered off-campus.
  22. Click on "Review Order"
  23. Review your order details and click on "Submit Order." You will receive a tracking number and email confirmation that your order has been submitted.
  24. Forward your confirmation email to Tina Nelson, academics program coordinator. You will not be cleared for your degree until this email notification is received.

Notes: If you have 11" x 17" foldouts, you need to notify Print Services. You should also specify if the document is all black and white or if there are pages with color. Specify the number of pages in color. One copy of the bound exit project will be held in the Fine Arts Library and the second copy will be permanently placed in University Archives.

Copying and Binding Information

Full service: Cornell Print Services, 695 Dryden Road, (607) 255-2524. Electronic copies can be submitted to printservices@cornell.edu. However, original Approval of Thesis forms printed on archival paper must still be hand-delivered to Cornell Print Services to be bound into the exit project. Print Services has a bindery service that picks up every two weeks and, for a small fee, will also deliver them to the CRP office when the bound copies are received back.

Binding: Cornell Print Services has the only contract with a bindery in Ithaca.

Publishing on eCommons

Publishing online through the library's eCommons is an additional option that does not substitute for the required bound copies. Cornell Library has a digital archiving space called eCommons that is a permanent online repository for academic work of students and faculty. Documents uploaded to eCommons are searchable through the university catalog and Google Scholar.

How It Works

Anyone affiliated with Cornell can upload work, including all the metadata (date of publication, keywords, client or sponsor if any, etc.) for that document, and it is housed in a collection in the system. Any format is allowed, but for archival purposes, PDF is highly recommended.

Benefits of Using eCommons

  • Documents will have a stable, permanent URL
  • The staff at eCommons will update the file type to make sure documents are always readable and accessible (i.e. when PDFs are obsolete, staff will update to whatever file type is the new standard)
  • Ability to share documents that are too large to be emailed
  • Documents can be accessed by anyone, including those not affiliated with Cornell

Submissions to eCommons

CRP Collection on eCommons

Users can view previously submitted exit projects and other student work in the CRP collection on eCommons.

Close overlay