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Thesis Handbook

Guidelines for Master's Thesis Research

Thesis Topic Exploration & Advisor Selection

For successful completion of the thesis, it is important that the graduate student identifies a thesis research topic that best suits their interests.  To help students identify a thesis topic and a research advisor, the CE department offers a graduate seminar every term, except the summer.
  1. Graduate Seminar:  The graduate seminar offers a flavor of the different research areas that are of interest to the CE department faculty, industry, and research organizations.  Typically the seminar meets for an hour every week. Students can identify research topics of interest from the presentations made and discuss them with faculty members working on associated research topics. After students identify their topics and advisors,they are still encouraged to attend seminars of interest, to stay current with research progress in related fields.

    Students can request a waiver for the graduate seminar if they have completed the thesis proposal, have course conflicts, or are on co-op. The waiver form can be downloaded from here.

    MS Students: Automatically registered by the CE department office from the student’s 1st year in the graduate program, until the waiver form is signed.

    BS/MS students: Automatically registered by the CE department office from the student’s 4th year in the graduate program, until the waiver form is signed. 

  2. Advisor Selection:  The selection of a research advisor should be a priority for the graduate student. Students are strongly encouraged to talk with different research groups and lead faculty members, to see if there are research opportunities or openings available.

    MS Students: A thesis advisor should be selected no later than a student’s second term in the MS program. The thesis advisor recommends the research area to be studied by the student.

    BS/MS students: A thesis advisor should be selected no later than a student’s 5th year (first term) in the BS/MS program. The thesis advisor recommends the research area of study.

Thesis Proposal


In the thesis proposal class students learn about all aspects of the process of developing and carrying out the thesis, and they gain an understanding of standards and expectations needed to be successful in completing the thesis process. The thesis proposal class is offered every term in the CE department. All students are required to submit the thesis proposal by the end of the term for a passing grade. Throughout the course, students are required to work closely with their thesis advisor. The template for the thesis proposal is available here.

MS Students:  Students should register for the thesis proposal class no later than their Fall term of 2nd year in the program. The “thesis proposal” should be submitted to the department office (with approval from the primary thesis advisor and committee members) on or before Dec 15 of the students second year. If Dec 15 falls on a weekend, the “thesis proposal” will be due on the following Monday.

BS/MS students: Students should register for the thesis proposal class no later than the spring term of their 5th year in the program. The “thesis proposal” should be submitted to the department office (with approval from the primary thesis advisor and committee members) on or before May 15 of the student’s 5th year. If May 15 falls on a weekend, the “thesis proposal” will be due on the following Monday.
 

Graduate Research Symposium

All graduate students are required to present a poster in the CE graduate research symposium, which will provide an opportunity for students to present their work in a formal setting. The poster does not need to reflect completed work; ongoing and exploratory thesis research are encouraged to participate in the Symposium. A summary of faculty and peer evaluations will be provided to participants.

Thesis Document

The thesis document is a published document and RIT is the publisher.  This document will be archived in the RIT library and also available through the online ProQuest/UMI database.  As such, the thesis document must comply with certain formatting specifications in order to be processed through this system.

In particular, the CE department has specific guidelines for the preparation of an acceptable manuscript.  The templates can be downloaded from the CE department online repository, in both Latex and word formats. http://www.ce.rit.edu/studentresources/gradresource.html

When the advisor determines that the thesis topic research is complete, the student submits the thesis to all the committee members for their approval.  Specific guidelines for preparation and submission of the thesis are also provided in the thesis proposal course. The thesis draft should be submitted to all the committee members two weeks before the student’s defense.

Research paper submission

During the course of their thesis research work, students are required to submit a journal or conference paper. The advisor will recommend suitable conferences or journals. Since the timelines for these conferences and journals vary based on the area of research, each student may have different timelines for the paper submission to facilitate timely dissemination of their research.

 

Thesis Defense and submission

The thesis defense is the culmination of the graduate student’s thesis research process.

MS Students:  Students should defend the thesis no later than the summer term of the 2nd year. If students are unable to meet this deadline they are required to submit the Letter-of-Intent (LOI) form (refer to section 8).

BS/MS students: Students should defend the thesis no later than the Spring term in the 6th year of the program. If students are unable to meet this deadline they are required to submit the LOI form (refer to section 8). All students need to be registered for thesis the term they defend.

The CE Department Office will post notification of the thesis defense when provided with information regarding the defense schedule. Two weeks before the planned defense, a thesis abstract should be submitted as a WORD file to Pam Steinkirchner after the advisor has approved of it. The template for the abstract can be found in here.  The student will find a common time with all advisors for the defense and contact Pam to reserve a conference room.

When the Thesis Committee determines that the thesis is ready to submit to the Office of Graduate Studies and Research, the committee signs the thesis document.

 

Checklist

To maintain eligibility to graduate in a given term, students must meet the scheduled deadlines. In particular,

No.

Action Items

Timeline (MS Student)

1

Graduate Seminar

Starting 1st year

2

Thesis Proposal

No later than December 15  of 2nd year

3

Poster

By end of the 2nd year

4

Thesis Document

At least 2 weeks before defense

5

Paper Submission

Flexible

6

Thesis Defense

No later than summer of 2nd year

LOI by May 15 of 2nd year if needed

BS/MS students

No.

Action Items

Timeline (BS/MS Student)

1

Graduate Seminar

Starting 4th  year

2

Thesis Proposal

No later than May 15  of 5th  year

3

Poster

By end of the 5th year

4

Thesis Document

At least 2 weeks before defense

5

Paper Submission

Flexible

6

Thesis Defense

No later than Spring of 6th year

LOI by December 15 of 6th year if needed

  1. Register for Graduate Seminar

  2. Register for thesis proposal

  3. Signed and completed thesis document

  4. Written journal/conference paper related to thesis

  5. Signed and completed thesis document in final form as a PDF file. 

    MS students

Exceptions and Letter-of-Intent (LOI) Form

If there are extraneous situations that might prevent the student from following the timelines provided above, students are requested to submit a letter of intent (LOI) form. The LOI requires students to indicate clearly his/her plan to complete the thesis requirements with the consent of all committee members and the department chair. The student should submit the LOI form along with his/her signed thesis proposal as supplementary material, in accordance to the following timeline.

MS Students
The “letter of intent” to conduct and complete thesis research should be submitted to the CE department office on or before May 15th (before 4pm), of the students 2nd year. If May 15th falls on a weekend, the letter of intent is due on the following Monday. The form can be downloaded from here. Note that this date is earlier than the thesis defense deadline in summer of the 2nd year for MS students; this is intended to provide an advance notice to the department to resolve any concern that might occur.

BS/MS students
The “letter of intent” to conduct and complete thesis research should be submitted to the CE department office on or before December 15th (before 4pm), of the students 6th year. If December 15th falls on a weekend, the letter of intent is due on the following Monday. The form can be downloaded from here. Note that this date is earlier than the thesis defense deadline in spring of the 6th year for BS/MS students; this is intended to give an advance notice to the department to resolve any concern that might occur. B/SMS students must finish all requirements, including thesis defense, thesis document and paper draft, by the end of the summer term of their 6th year or they will be dropped from the MS part of their program and will be switched to the BS degree.
  • Post Defense steps for MS Certification
    • Pay Student Financial Services for each thesis book to be bound:  We require two bound copies — one for the advisor and one for the library.  You need to pay the binding fee for your advisor’s copy as well as for any additional copies for your personal use.  The library pays for the binding for its copy.  Bring the receipt to the CE office so that a copy of it can be retained as a required documentation for your certification.
    • Have your copies made:  Thesis copies can be printed at any copy center.  The Crossroads HUB (Ph: (585) 475-6353) has this service available on the RIT campus.  The copies should be one-sided and you may use common bond paper.  

    • Collect and add Signature Pages to your final copies:  You need to insert an original Signature Page at the front of each thesis book.  Once your corrections are made and your final thesis is approved, your committee members will sign your Signature Pages. (It is always a good idea to have them sign a couple of extra ones in case there is a problem with the binding.) After your thesis copies are printed, these pages can be added and you can submit your final copies to the Thesis Binding Office in the Wallace Library, room A-500, along with the receipt for binding. 

    • Make your CD’s:  You must provide two CDs — one for your advisor and one for the department.  The CDs should consist of any programs, data, and supporting material in addition to your final thesis.  Your primary advisor may request additional material.  You must submit them to the CE office to be put inside each of the thesis books when they come back from the binder.  If your thesis refers to the material on the CD, you must also provide a CD for the library copy.

    • Submit your thesis on ProQuest/UMI:  Once your thesis is completed, you are required to submit it in PDF format through our library’s publishing agreement with ProQuest.  The web site is located at http://dissertations.umi.com

    • For certification, all of these steps must be completed by the end of the term.

    Once these steps are complete you will be a candidate for certification with your MS degree pending confirmation that all other requirements have been met.

 

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