M.Eng. Thesis Guide: parts 7, 8, 9


7.  Thesis Grades: The Grade of J or the Grade of U

When you register for 6.UAP, the Undergraduate Office must receive a graded proposal by the last day of classes for that term. If we do not receive a graded proposal by the deadline, you will receive an Incomplete. Students should not generally register for 6.ThM until after the proposal is submitted through 6.UAP.

The grade of U (Unsatisfactory progress) in 6.ThM will be given if the thesis proposal is not submitted by the end of the first term of thesis registration, or if the thesis supervisor informs the Undergraduate Office that he or she wishes to give a student that grade due to unsatisfactory progress. The final grade in 6.ThM is a letter grade, not Pass/Fail. No Incompletes (I's) will be given in thesis. A grade for 6.ThM is required from a thesis supervisor by the Undergraduate Office ONLY at thesis completion. Unless a supervisor informs us otherwise, the grade of J will be given until thesis completion as long as an approved proposal is on file. For thesis registration, IAP is part of the Fall Term and no IAP thesis registration is usually necessary.

8.  When to Start

Start thinking about your thesis research project as early as possible, e.g., by developing research expertise through UROPs. Be alert to interesting problems that come to your attention in class, personal contacts, or through the technical literature.

The best time to start defining a thesis project is during 6.UAT. Undergraduates planning to continue for the M.Eng. should try to get involved in a research group (through UROP, initially) as early as the sophomore or junior year. It is particularly important for students interested in continuing for the Ph.D. to gain exposure and experience in research. (Being involved in a research group long-term is the best way to improve chances for funding as a Research Assistant for the M.Eng.) Some faculty feel that there is a long period of apprenticeship during which the student's training requires more effort than is returned by the student's labor. Only after this period does the 'payback' begin. It is in that 'payback' period that most supervisors expect to find the student's M.Eng. thesis work.

9.  The First Step: Finding a Supervisor and Topic

It's not as difficult to find a thesis as many students think. It's a lot like finding any research project. See urop.html. For one thing, an M.Eng. thesis supervisor need not be a Course VI faculty member. Students thinking about continuing directly into the Course VI Ph.D. program will find it strongly to their advantage to establish an early research relationship with EECS labs and faculty. However, any School of Engineering or Science faculty member and most Department-affiliated senior research staff members may supervise an M.Eng. thesis. Use the Research Interest Guide to look for non-faculty supervisors. If you wish to be supervised by a faculty member outside the School of Engineering or Science, or by a staff member not listed in the Research Supervisor list, you may request permission. Consult Anne Hunter.

Find a project which is of direct and intense interest to you and which will give you a maximum opportunity not only to learn about the subject being investigated, but also about proper methods of technical investigation. If you are already a graduate student in the M.Eng. program, you will want to avoid projects so remote from your current training that acquiring the necessary background will cause excessive delay.