Master Project/Thesis Guideline

Master Project vs. Master Thesis

Master Thesis
  1. requires rigorous literature survey on existing works,
  2. generates new knowledge, or improves significantly existing techniques,
  3. needs to submit a master thesis document that follows the rigorous format set by the library at a strict deadline. (Consult CS Secretary for the deadline each semester.)
  4. takes 6 credit hours instead of 3 credit hours.

Master Project does not have the above stringent requirements but the work needs to be substantial, compared with the semester project. You still have to write a master project report and defense your work in a presentation meeting.


Identify the topic area

First find the topic of your interest. This can be done by taking courses in the areas you think you have interests or it is important to you. Pick a substantial or extensible semester project by consulting with your teacher.

Pick advisor and write proposal

After decided your interest, pick the adviser and talk to him/her about your interest and identify a topic or search strategy for your master project or thesis. Having two co-advisors is allowed if you work in inter-subdiscipline areas. Decide to go for master project or thesis. I would encourage students to go for thesis because the training/learning benefit.

After decided the topic, write a proposal that

  1. documents the background information for doing such a thesis or project.
  2. discusses your methodology or plan of attack to the problem.
  3. tentative schedule and milestones.
  4. the deliverables.

Try to limit your proposal to about 3 to 5 pages. The first title page should show the title, your name, date, and approval lines with the three faculty member name and signature line for their signatures. Here is an example,

	Parallel Protocol Implementation
	         Magnus Johanson
	Approved by
	Advisor: Edward Chow
	Committee member: Badal Dushan
	Committee member: Charlie Shub
Here is the link to a proposal example written by Heidi McClure.

Form a master advising committee with three faculty members.

After writing the proposal draft, revise it with your advisor. After getting your advisor's approval, take it to the other two committee members and ask for the time slot of your master proposal meeting, typically 15 minutes in your advisor's office. It is better to do this at the beginning of the semester you try to graduate.

Work on you project/thesis

Obtain the require results, or develop the the prototypes. Note that you have all your results ready one month before your final defense, since you do need some time (two weeks at least to write the report and) to revise it with your advisor. That is at the end of March or October you should complete your research or software prototype for you to graduate in Spring or Fall semester.

Write thesis/project report, prepare viewgraphs

At lease three weeks before your defense presentation, you have a draft ready for you to discuss with your advisor which document your results. Note that for master thesis, you need to have this presentation done a couple of days before the thesis deadline set by the library, since your committee members may ask you to revise it or add additional results. You need to leave at lease one week for the committee member to read your thesis or project report.
  1. After revised the thesis/project report draft with your advisor and obtain your advisor's approval, take it to your committee members, and ask for the final defense presentation time.
  2. Tell CS Secretary to announce the title, the time, and your committee members. She will reserve the room for you.
  3. After the room is decided, send email to your committee memeber to confirm the time and place.

Defense Exam

After finished the master thesis or project report, work on the viewgraphs of your defense presentation. Since 40 minutes is set for your presentation and 20 minutes for questions and answers, you should prepare about 20 viewgraphs. Go over this viewgraphs with your advisor and have a dry run. You probably would like to double check with your committee member to see if they have question or need you to give them a personal briefing. You can invite your friend to your final defense.

At the defense day, make copies of viewgraphs for your committee members. For master thesis, at least three copies of the signature page (one for yourself) are needed for signing off. If you pass, your advisor will change your grade from IP to a letter grade and turn a satisfactory presentation form to CS Secretary.

For master thesis, turn in your bounded final master thesis to the library before the deadline.