Loyola University Chicago

Department of Computer Science


MS Computer Science Thesis

MS students in the Computer Science degree program (only) may elect the MS thesis option.

Course work is strongly recommended over the thesis option, especially for those not planning on a research-oriented career. Many students pursuing the thesis option, therefore, would be considering a PhD program at another institution.

Students wishing to do a thesis should discuss this option as early as possible with the GPD.

Theses may involve research in purely theoretical computer science (for example, development or analysis of algorithms), or may involve development of a software package, or may involve instrumentation, measurement and analysis of existing systems (for example, studying network performance). Because of this wide range, there is no one formal course in research methods. Courses in the restricted-electives list above contain a significant component of area-specific integrated research-methods material. Students interested in writing a thesis are strongly urged to seek advising from the GPD or other faculty as early as possible as to which electives in this group will be the most appropriate for the student’s proposed area of research.

Here is an outline of the steps toward your thesis. The ones in boldface are formal steps with documentation required by the Graduate School:

  1. If you wish to write a thesis, first identify a faculty advisor and select a tentative topic or area of research. The existing program allows you to take up to 6.0 hours of COMP 490: Independent Project. You will typically begin their research program in such a course, though you may also identify an advisor and select a tentative topic as part of a conventional classroom course.

  2. Responsible Conduct in Research and Scholarship (RCRS) Training does not have to be done next, but it is required before graduation with a thesis. See http://www.luc.edu/ors/RCRHome.shtml to find when this 2-day, non-credit course is offered.

  3. Thesis/Dissertation Committee Recommendation

    • The next step is for you to secure permission to pursue the thesis option from the Graduate Program Director.
    • The Graduate Program Director, in consultation with you and your chosen advisor, recommends a thesis committee to the Graduate School. The committee will consist of at least three faculty members; normally the committee director will be the advisor.
    • For the formal Graduate School process you create the committee at the gsps link https://gsps.luc.edu/. An email will then be sent to the director for approval and then the GPD.
    • You will receives an email if your committee is formally approved by the Graduate School.

    At least 50% of the committee must be comprised of Loyola graduate faculty; the director of the committee must have full graduate faculty status – click here for the current list of full members.

  4. You may finish while still taking COMP 490: Independent Project or other for-credit courses. Alternately you may still be continuing with your research in subsequent semesters, after finishing all your required for-credit courses. Then, assuming your committee is approved, you maintain full-time status by getting the GPD to register you for the zero-credit-hour Comp 595: Thesis Supervision, if available, or Comp 605: Masters Study, if Comp 595 is not listed. Students may register for any number of semesters of Comp 595/605, subject to time-to-degree-completion constraints.

  5. Once you have your thesis committee approved, the thesis becomes a degree requirement. (This is important for international students.) You may, however, petition to revert back to non-thesis status; this requires permission of the Graduate Program Director. At that point, you would be able to graduate without writing a thesis, if the coursework requirements were met. No reimbursement or credit will be received for any Comp 595, Comp 605, or other thesis-specific courses taken.

  6. Ballot for the Approval of a Thesis/Dissertation Proposal

    • You will then prepare a formal research proposal, in consultation with your advisor. This proposal must be submitted to your committee for review. This sequence is monitored through gsps.
    • If you are submitting your proposal to the Institutional Review Board (IRB), you must have approval or exemption before the Graduate School approves your proposal. You do not need to submit proof, Graduate School will confirm. (This step is required for the use of human and animal subjects, and is not common for Computer Science.)
    • A simple one to two paragraph abstract must be included in the proposal form on gsps.
    • You will get notified once all members of the committee, the GPD, and the Graduate School approve the proposal through gsps.
    • You are now ready to “conduct research” for the project.
  7. Ballot for Text and Oral Defense Form

    • Upon completion of your thesis, you will be required to formally defend your research. Schedule this with your committee. You thesis should be in nearly final form.
    • Typically you should give the committee three weeks to read the final draft of the thesis before the defense date.
    • For this requirement, you must download the defense ballot http://www.luc.edu/media/lucedu/gradschool/pdfs/T%20&%20D%20defense%20ballot–DB.pdf and bring it with you to your defense. Your director and other committee member(s) will sign the ballot – this ballot then needs to go to the GPD for final approval.
    • The committee may require modifications before approving the thesis, or possibly reject it.
    • Once approved, the GPD will upload the ballot in gsps for Graduate School approval.
    • You will be notified once the process is complete.
  8. Formatting the Thesis/Dissertation

    • Every thesis/dissertation needs to be formatted according to the rules stated in the Graduate School’s formatting manual http://www.luc.edu/gradschool/formatting.shtml.
    • Format check is a required step; the deadlines, depending on the conferral date, are posted on the Key Dates and Deadlines page on the Graduate School website. These deadlines are well before the end of the semester - be sure to check and satisfy them.
    • Final Copy, both electronic and hard copies also have deadlines, depending on the conferral date