Requirements specific to the MS Thesis program are given below. These requirements are in addition to the general MS in CS Requirements. Requirements specific to the MS Thesis program do not apply to the MS Project program.
With the help of the advisor, Thesis Option students selects faculty members to serve as 2nd and 3rd members on the student's MS committee. (For Project Option students, the 2nd and 3rd committee members are assigned by the Graduate Coordinator.)
Students must pass their thesis proposal presentation by the end of the 4th semester, or 16 months, after admittance.
Once a thesis topic has been firmly established, the student should submit a thesis proposal. The thesis proposal consists of two components – the thesis proposal document and the thesis proposal presentation. First, the student prepares the written thesis proposal document, as described below. Once the student’s first two committee members have approved the document, the student gives the proposal to the third committee member and schedules the time for the formal presentation of the thesis proposal. No completed thesis can be defended without first having the proposal presented and approved.
Completing the thesis proposal involves two parts: the written proposal and the proposal presentation.
Part 1: The written proposal
The thesis proposal document should be submitted to the committee as soon as possible and must be defended by the end of the 4th semester after the student begins the program. The thesis cannot be defended before the thesis proposal has been presented and approved.
The document must be 4 to 5 single-spaced pages, not including the bibliography.
Part 2: Thesis proposal presentation
The proposal presentation is a 12-15 minute oral presentation in a public meeting involving the thesis committee and others who may wish to attend. There will be time for questions and the committee will meet in private to reach a decision on the proposal. The timeline for scheduling the presentation is given below.
In the presentation, a simple restatement of the proposal document is not what is wanted. The central ideas of the document should be presented, but this should be augmented by examples and explanations. Ideally, the presentation will have been practiced in front of an audience that can help the student improve the presentation. Part of what should be learned is how to make good presentations.
Before scheduling the presentation
At least one week prior to the proposal presentation
Day of proposal presentation
The MS thesis should make a contribution to the field of Computer Science. When completed, other computer scientists working in the same or related areas should find the thesis useful in solving problems they are working on. The thesis should demonstrate creativity and originality. It should require a thorough search of existing literature in the student's area of research and exhibit the use of skills and techniques acquired during the student's Computer Science graduate education. When reasonable, it is recommended that the student make an effort to publish the accomplished research in the Computer Science literature.
Thesis Format: University guidelines specify the format of the title page, abstract page, acknowledgments page, and signature page (bound copies only). With consultation of the thesis chair, the rest of the thesis should be written in a style and form consistent with the Computer Science literature for your research area.
BYU requires a department to certify the consistency of format, captions, and references for all theses. Format and captions pose few, if any, difficulties, but citations are often inconsistent. (Typically, students copy citations from various places without reworking them into a consistent format.) To ensure consistency--and to avoid having to rework citations at department sign-off time-- follow the instructions in either (1) or (2) below.
Use the same style for the same kind of publications throughout--italics, bold, quotes, punctuation, names (full names or initials), numbering, and indentation.
Include all components of a citation--all author or editor names and the title and year; and, as applicable, other components such as journal name, volume, number, pages, month, publisher, city, state or country, and institution for MS theses, PhD dissertations, or technical reports.
Order the bibliography alphabetically by last name of first author.
The actual organization of a traditional thesis is flexible. A typical organization would be as follows.
Chapter 1 - Introduces the thesis problem and motivates its importance.
Chapter 2 - A careful overview of related work, referencing similar research.
Chapter 3 ... n-1 - A progressive presentation of the research effort, typically including chapters on:
foundational material (terms, definitions, etc.)
the actual innovations (algorithms, theorems, models, etc.)
validation and analysis of results (proofs, simulations, complexity analysis, etc.).
Chapter n - Overviews the contributions of the thesis and discusses possible directions for future work.
Appendices - Contains extended results, code fragments, documentation, etc.
Audience: Researchers well acquainted with the topic.
Document: The thesis should be written as a paper for a journal. Except for formatting required by BYU such as double spacing and chapters instead of sections, the thesis should read exactly like a paper that can be submitted for publication. Appendices may include additional material that would not be appropriate for publication, but is pertinent to the student's work. Ideally, the quality of the paper would be similar to papers found in top publications in the research field of the thesis.
Oral Presentation Audience: CS faculty members who may not be acquainted with the topic.
The presentation should be polished. Ideally, it will have been practiced in front of an audience that can help the student improve the presentation.
The defense of the thesis is open to the public. For the defense, a student must prepare and make a polished presentation, which should last about 25 minutes. After a short introductory overview of the research for the benefit of those not familiar with the work, the presentation should focus on the technical details of the research. At the conclusion of the presentation questions may be asked by the audience and committee relating to the methods and evaluation techniques used to complete the thesis work; when complete the audience will be excused. The committee may ask the student further questions. When the committee is satisfied, the student being examined will be asked to leave the room.
At this point the examining committee decides on a result. The possible results are:
Pass with qualifications - Revision to thesis or strengthening of course knowledge are examples of why this would be selected.
Recess - Substantial revision of thesis and/or course knowledge preparation. A minimum of one month must pass before a subsequent defense can take place.
Fail - Fail the oral exam and be terminated from the graduate program.
The Graduate Academic Advisor will have given a packet of forms from the Office of Graduate Studies to the student's advisor prior to the presentation. The advisor also serves as the examination chair. The examination chair manages the forms as follows:
Report of Committee Action for Final Oral Examination - Conduct a vote, get signatures, and give the form to the Graduate Academic Advisor.
Committee Member Evaluation of Final Oral Examination - Each member of the examining committee fills out one of these forms regarding the student's potential in a PhD program. Give these forms to the Graduate Academic Advisor.
Approval for Submission of Dissertation, Thesis, or Selected Project - Get appropriate signatures and then give this form to the student.
Grade Change Authorization - All 699R hours must be changed from a T to a P. Have the student fill out the top portions of the form and have it signed by the Graduate Coordinator. In this case, the instructor name must be the Graduate Coordinator, not the chair advisor.
For any questions about these forms, contact the Graduate Academic Advisor.
Approximately 1 Month Prior to the Defense:
No Later Than 3 Weeks Before the Defense (earlier is better):
No Later Than 2 Weeks Prior to the Defense:
Defense Day or After:
Computer Science Department
Brigham Young University
3361 TMCB PO Box 26576
Provo, Utah 84602