Department of Computing Sciences

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Senior Thesis

Through the Senior Thesis option (CSC 486), students can earn three credits for one or two semesters of independent, but supervised, project work completed in an academic setting. The option is intended to enrich the student's knowledge of computer applications, theory, software or hardware, and to develop skills in analyzing problems involving current computing technologies. Projects pursued may involve substantial software or hardware development, structuring available commercial software/hardware for specific applications, or theoretical analysis of computational schemes. Students interested in pursuing a graduate program are strongly urged to consider the thesis option to test out their potential for independent research and advanced study.

Alternatively, students enrolled in the Honors College may register for HON 490 and complete a thesis. Students interested in pursuing some independent exploration, but not interested in a thesis option may consider an independent study (CIS 499 or CSC 499).

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the thesis option, the student must:

  1. Have at least junior standing in the College (54 credits).
  2. Be a computer science or computer information systems major with at least 18 credits of course work in the major with at least a 3.00 major GPA.
  3. Be fluent in at least one high-level programming language (e.g., Java, C/C++, or Visual Basic).

Individual thesis supervisors may have additional requirements, such as knowledge of specific subjects, programming languages or software. Besides meeting the formal prerequisites, thesis candidates should be self-motivated and interested in real-world learning, and should have good communication and problem-solving skills.


Certain forms of work experience are expressly excluded from consideration for theses:

  1. Thesis credits cannot be given for work carried out in an employment situation.
  2. Thesis credits cannot be given for projects already completed or in progress.
  3. Thesis credits cannot be counted towards the major elective requirement.

Application Procedure

  1. Each interested student should begin by carefully reading the description of the thesis option and verifying his/her eligibility. It is recommended that students begin exploring this option at least two semesters ahead of their intended graduation.
  2. If the student meets the eligibility requirements for the thesis option, he/she should contact faculty members, discuss possible thesis topics, and then identify a full-time member of the department faculty who agrees to serve as his/her Thesis Supervisor. In case of joint supervision by two or more faculty members, a primary supervisor will be identified.
  3. Finally, the student must complete and submit a Thesis Application Form to the Thesis Coordinator, who will provide necessary support for registration, thesis submission, grade reporting, etc.

Each Thesis Candidate Will

  1. Work a total of at least 125 hours, spread over one or two semesters, for the project.
  2. Spend the work time solely on a project-related reading, development, and writing.
  3. Meet weekly with the Thesis Supervisor, discuss the progress, and seek necessary help.
  4. Prepare a thesis that presents the major accomplishments with appropriate documentation. Again, the student must seek the help and the guidance of the Thesis Supervisor in preparing the thesis.
  5. Participate in a final evaluation of the thesis.

Evaluation and Grading

  1. A thesis is considered completed when the student has completed the planned work of 125 hours or more, and the thesis has been prepared and submitted to the Thesis Coordinator, along with the Self-Evaluation form.
  2. The thesis must be word-processed and formatted in a professional manner, following appropriate writing style in the discipline. Further requirements regarding the format and contents of a thesis will be specified by the department from time to time.
  3. The Thesis Coordinator will constitute an ad-hoc committee consisting of himself/herself, the Thesis Supervisor(s) and at least one more faculty member for the purpose of evaluating the thesis. The Thesis Coordinator will be the chair of the committee. All committee members will be given an opportunity to read and evaluate the thesis.
  4. The student will make an oral presentation and an appropriate demonstration of the software/hardware developed before the ad-hoc committee.
  5. A letter grade (A - E) will be assigned by the Committee after the evaluation. For thesis work that extends beyond one semester, a "PR" grade will be assigned at the end of the first semester. Extension beyond the second semester will not normally be granted.

Necessary Forms

Last Updated 10/4/18

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