Quick Navigation

Graduate Program

Thesis Option

Contents

 

Description

The Thesis Option is most typically undertaken by students who intend to continue their studies to obtain a doctoral degree in Computer Science or related field. However, any student who is interested in an in-depth research or development experience may wish to pursue this option.

The thesis may be either scholarly research, such as is typically done as part of or in preparation for Ph.D. dissertation work, or may be an implementation of a significant software or combined hardware/software system in support of research.

Students undertaking the Thesis option should understand that a significant investment of time and intellectual effort is required. In addition, in many cases, completion of a Thesis will take longer than the non-thesis option.

The Thesis involves research or significant software development under the direction of an advisor who is a member of the department’s Graduate Faculty and a Committee of two additional department Graduate Faculty members. In cases in which a thesis is significantly involved with fields outside computer science, up to two additional members of the Graduate Faculty from other departments may serve on the Committee. The Computer Science members of the Committee may, in such cases, require that it include at least one member from outside the Department. Qualified researchers from outside NIU could be included as Committee members, subject to Graduate School approval.

As part of the research, the student is required to enroll in a minimum of 6 credit hours of CSCI 699 – Thesis. This will generally be as two courses of 3 credit hours each. The final result of this research is a written thesis and a public oral defense of the thesis. Once the CSCI 699 research activities have begun, the Graduate School requires continuous enrollment in CSCI 699; however, the number of credit hours can vary as appropriate. CSCI 699 is graded as an Incomplete grade until the thesis has been defended and approved.  If the student abandons the thesis option or the thesis proposal is rejected or the thesis itself is rejected, any CSCI 699 courses change to a Permanent Incomplete and the student must elect other courses to replace them.

 

Procedure for Establishing and Executing a Thesis Option

  1. The student identifies and secures the cooperation of a member of the Graduate Faculty of the Department to serve as Thesis Advisor.

  2. The student and the advisor write a Thesis Preproposal that is a statement of the Thesis topic and scope containing sufficient detail to show to possible Thesis Committee members for their consideration.

  3. The student and the advisor identify at least two additional members of the Graduate Faculty of the Department to serve on the Thesis Committee and obtain their consent. A majority of the voting members and the committe chair must be full or senior members of the graduate faculty. The proposed committee and Thesis Preproposal are submitted to the department Chair for approval. External members should be identified and approved at this point as well. The thesis committee must then be submitted to the Graduate School and formally appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School.

    At any time, a faculty member may decline to serve as director or committee member of this committee. With the consent of the department and the approval of the Graduate Dean, a student may propose to alter the composition of the thesis committee, provided that the faculty to be removed from and/or added to the committee expressly consent to the change. If a student wishes to remove a faculty member from a thesis committee, and the faculty member does not consent to be removed, the student may appeal to the Dean of the Graduate School. The Dean will make a decision with input from the student, the faculty members involved, the department chair, the committee chair, and the director of graduate studies; the decision of the dean will be final.

  4. The student and his or her Advisor write a formal Thesis Proposal consisting of at least 5 double-spaced pages. This must be submitted to the Thesis Committee by the end of the seventh week of a semester. This Proposal sets out the purpose, scope, and expected results of the research in some detail, including the expected form of the results (e.g., software development, research results, etc.).

  5. By the end of the tenth week of the semester, the Thesis Committee replies to the formal proposal. The Committee may
    1. accept the proposal;
    2. accept the proposal pending revisions; or
    3. reject the proposal. A majority (more than 50%) of the Committee is required for this decision.
    If the Thesis Committee rejects the proposal at this point, the process will stop and no further opportunity will be given. Informal discussion between the student and the Thesis Committee will take place before the committee exercises Options b. or c.

  6. If Step 5 requires that revisions be made, the student makes the revisions and resubmits the proposal. This process may take multiple iterations before the proposal is approved by the Thesis Committee. By the end of the tenth week of the semester, the Thesis Committee must make the decision of whether accept or reject the proposal. Rejection is only warranted if the revisions have not been made according to specifications. No further revisions may be allowed at this point. No further opportunity to accomplish the original revisions will be given. Informal discussion between the student and the Thesis Committee will take place during the revision process. Note clearly that the deadline for this step to be complete is the end of the tenth week of the semester. Therefore, it is prudent to submit the Proposal (in Step 5) before the end of the tenth week to leave room for revisions.

  7. Once the Thesis Committee approves the proposal, the proposal will be submitted to the Graduate Committee. By the end of the twelfth week of the semester, the Graduate Committee shall reply to the proposal in the following ways:

    1. accept the proposal;
    2. accept the proposal pending revisions; or
    3. reject the proposal. A majority (more than 50%) of the Committee is required for this decision.

  8. If Step 7 requires that revisions be made, the Thesis Committee shall work with the student and submit the revised version to the Graduate Committee by the end of the fourteenth week of the semester.

  9. By the end of the fifteenth week, the Graduate Committee shall make a final decision on the Proposal, either:
    1. accepting the proposal; or
    2. rejecting the proposal. A majority (more than 50%) of the Committee is required for this decision.

  10. The decision at Step 9 is final. If a proposal is rejected by the Graduate Committee at this point, no further opportunity will be given. In the event the Proposal is rejected, the student will be advised to take the non-Thesis option degree. A rejection will be considered final. The student can continue in the program working toward a non-Thesis option degree. 

  11. Once the proposal is accepted by the Graduate Committee it is formalized and filed with the department. There is no form for the Graduate School. (There is, however, a form upon successful defense of the Thesis). The Graduate Committee will designate a member of the Graduate Faculty, who will be responsible for verifying whether the final thesis work satisfies the work proposed in the Thesis Proposal. Only at this point will the student will be allowed to register for CSCI 699 in the following semesters.

  12. If a student registers for CSCI 699 but does not turn in a thesis, or, in the judgment of the Thesis Committee, the student has not made a good-faith effort to turn in a satisfactory thesis, the student will receive a ‘U’ (unsatisfactory) grade for CSCI 699 and will be required to take other course(s) in its place. Subject to university drop deadlines or other regulations, the student has the option to drop CSCI 699.

  13. The student shall take CSCI 699 to conduct necessary research work. Up to 6 credit hours from CSCI 699 may be counted toward graduation. Also, up to 3 credit hours from CSCI 697 in support of thesis work may be counted toward graduation.

  14. When the research is complete and the Thesis substantially complete, it shall be the normal practice to hold a pre-defense meeting including the student and all members of the Thesis Committee to review the state of the Thesis and to specify any additions, corrections, clarifications, deletions, or other matters which should be accomplished before the actual defense.

  15. Departments must submit a “Request for Oral Defense of Thesis” for master’s thesis students to the graduate school in accordance with graduate school deadlines.

    The “IRB Inquiry Form” must be filed by thesis students by the end of the first week of classes of the semester that the student plans to defend. This form ensures that students and their committee chair have discussed IRB requirements to determine whether or not IRB approval is required prior to degree completion.

    All of these forms can be found at:
    http://www.grad.niu.edu/grad/audience/student-forms.shtml

  16. The student shall make final copies of the Thesis available to the members of the Thesis Committee no less 10 business days before the defense. The Thesis Committee shall turn in submit a final copy of the Thesis to the assigned Graduate Committee designee prior to the thesis defense.

  17. Most defense proceedings will consist of the following:
    1. a 20 – 30 minute oral presentation by the student in front of the Thesis Committee and the Graduate Committee designee.
    2. questions for the student from guests.
    3. questions for the student from the Committee and Graduate Committee designee (after the guests have left).
    4. a meeting of the Thesis Committee to decide if the student passes the defense or not (with the student out of the room).  The Graduate Committee designee is included in this meeting, but participates only in commenting on whether the student did or did not do what the Thesis Proposal promised.
    5. a decision as to how to handle any outstanding issues or necessary revisions (with the student out of the room).

  18. Once the Thesis Committee accepts the defense, the Graduate Committee designee informs the Graduate Committee as to whether the final Thesis work conforms to the Proposal. Only after the designee approves the Thesis is the defense considered complete.

  19. In the event that a student fails the Thesis defense, he or she will be allowed to defend again one more time.

  20. Any changes to the student’s Thesis Committee must be approved by the Graduate Committee. Changes might be required, for example, if a member of the Committee is unable to serve through the end of the student’s Thesis, or if irreconcilable differences of opinion arise among the members of the Committee. In the event that the student’s Advisor cannot continue to serve, the department will attempt to find a suitable replacement. However, if that cannot be done, the student will be advised to take the non-Thesis option degree.

  21. In addition to this document, students are required to follow all related university regulations in the Graduate Catalogue. Students should familiarize themselves with the University’s regulations on thesis submission and the deadlines in the Graduate Calendar.