College of Science

Thesis Information

What should the format of my thesis be?

Format of graduate theses is determined by:

  1. The University Library has thesis regulations which must be followed. These regulations deal with such things as the type of paper required, margins, and bound copies.
  2. Your major professor and thesis committee will determine all other aspects of style and format. Be sure to discuss style and format with your major professor before you begin writing. The Biological Sciences Department Graduate Program does not have any regulations or policy with respect to thesis style or format.

How long does it take to write the thesis?

A lot longer than you think it will take. A thesis is a much more complicated than a term paper. Writing your thesis requires familiarity with the relevant literature, data analysis, and substantial integration and synthesis. Plan at least 6 months to write the thesis.

When should my committee see the thesis?

Discuss this with your major professor, and follow their instructions. Here are a few things to keep in mind. Although it's your thesis, anything you do is considered to be a product of your major professor's laboratory. If you distribute a poorly developed thesis to your committee, it not only reflects badly on you, but also on your major professor. Your committee members may wonder why your major professor is allowing low quality work to come out of the lab. If you distribute your thesis to your committee without the approval of your major professor, you may embarrass both yourself and your major professor. Embarrassing your major professor just before your thesis defense is usually not a good idea.

A sample timeline might be as follows:

  1. Have a complete draft (all sections completed) of your thesis to your major professor in the first week or two of the quarter in which you wish to graduate. Be prepared to go through two or three rounds of revisions with your major professor. This can take 4 to 6 weeks.
  2. When your major professor approves, distribute copies to your committee. Allow 1 to 2 weeks for them to review. Usually the committee won't review the thesis as thoroughly or require as many revisions as your major professor. When your professor and your committee agree, you can then schedule your thesis defense. With some luck, you might actually graduate that quarter!

Should I ask my major professor or thesis committee to review sections of the thesis separately?

Discuss with your professor. You might be thinking it's a good idea to have your professor (and/or committee) review individual sections to know if you're "on the right track." They may be willing to do this, but you need to realize that a key feature of a thesis (or any scientific paper) is that the sections (Introduction, Methods and Materials, Results, Discussion) are properly linked and flow into one another. What may seem acceptable as a stand-alone section may become quite unacceptable as part of the entire thesis.

How many bound copies do I need?

The University Library requires two bound copies for their collection. Providing a bound copy for your major professor is a widely accepted practice. Bound copies are frequently provided to the members of your thesis committee as a courtesy. The Biological Sciences Department requests that you provide a bound copy for the collection in the office of the Department Chair. You'll probably want a bound copy; then we get into family and friends - which is entirely your discretion. See the Library thesis regulations page for more information - including the cost of bound copies.

The binding instructions form can be found at the Graduate Studies thesis page.

When is the due date for turning in my thesis? Where do I turn it in?

The due date is usually around finals week, but varies from quarter to quarter. Be sure to review the Thesis/Project Guidelines provided by the University Office of Graduate Studies. The Thesis/Project Guidelines page has deadlines and much additional critical information. The University Graduate Studies Office is located at 1 - 229; the phone number is 909-869-3331. This is where you submit the copies to be bound. The Academic Calendar found in the University Catalog (click Catalog) usually has the due date for each quarter.