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The Master's Thesis and Master's Project

Students in the Master of CS and Master of Science in CS programs are not required to do a Master's Thesis or Master's Project but may opt to do one. (Note: Students in the Master of CS program can do a Master's Project but not a Master's Thesis.)

To opt for a Master's Thesis or Master's Project, a student must have at least three A's and one B in four core courses. Students who have not yet completed their core course requirements must be aware that if these grade criteria are not met, they will be required either to take additional courses in order to satisfy these requirements, or complete the program under the coursework-only option.

Step 1: Find an Advisor

The student must find a faculty member who is willing to work with the student and supervise the thesis or project. The advisor and the student should formulate a plan for the work to be done. A Master's Project can consist of a high-quality paper or piece of software.

Faculty members will customarily agree to serve as a thesis or project advisor only when they have an interest in the topic and a high degree of confidence in the ability of the student to complete the thesis or project. Students cannot do a thesis or project unless they find a faculty advisor.

Step 2: Form a Committee

Once the work to be done has been planned, a thesis or project defense committee must be formed. With the concurrence of the advisor, the student should ask at least one other member of the faculty to serve on the committee. Once the members of the committee have been identified, the student must prepare a written description of the thesis or project.

Step 3: Carry Out the Work and Defend It

Once the thesis or project work has been completed and a document describing the results prepared, the student must schedule an oral defense of this work. A student must be registered in the semester in which the oral defense is taken.

Notice of the defense must be posted at least 48 hours in advance on the Computer Science Department bulletin board. Note the timing of a thesis defense must meet the deadlines established by the Graduate School. In addition, the thesis itself must be in the format specified by the Graduate School. The student must also submit Forms #501A and #501B as prescribed in the thesis manual. All thesis and project defenses are open to the public.

At the conclusion of the oral defense, the committee chair should report the result using Form #303. Two additional copies of this form must be made, one for the student and one for the student's file. The original should be sent to the Graduate Records Office.

Should a student fail the oral defense of a thesis or project for a second time, the committee must decide whether the student will be required to pursue the coursework-only option for the degree. A student has the right to appeal the result of a project or thesis defense by submitting an appeal in writing to the Department Chair within 2 weeks of the notification of the result.

Coursework Limits for a Project or Thesis

Up to 5 credit hours of CS 597 may be taken for credit toward an MSCS or MCS degree. MSCS Students working on a thesis may take up to a combined total of 8 credit hours of CS 597 and CS 591. For CS 591 credits to count toward a degree, students must successfully defend their thesis.

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