The EECS Department requires that students submit a thesis proposal during their first semester as MEng students, before they have begun substantial work on the thesis. Thesis proposals are brief documents (1500-2500 words) which focus on the ultimate, novel goals of your research project. While it is nearly impossible to extrapolate exactly what could (or will) happen during the course of your research, your proposal serves as a thoughtful approximation of the impact that your project could have as new work in the field, as well as an agreement between you and your thesis supervisor on the scope of your thesis.
Finding a Supervisor
MEng thesis supervisors are not required to be EECS faculty members; however, supervisors from other departments, or non-faculty supervisors, must be approved by the EECS Undergraduate Office.
It is the sole responsibility of a student in the MEng program to find a thesis supervisor. There are many ways to go about this process:
- If you are still an undergraduate, look for UROP or SuperUROP opportunities. Many MEng projects stem from UROPs.
- Consider what areas you might be interested in working in, and search relevant lab webpages for people working in those areas. Many EECS MEng students work in RLE, CSAIL, MTL, LIDS, or the Media Lab, but you don’t need to limit your search to these labs. If you find a person whom you think might be a good match, reach out to them with a short email explaining why you’d be interested in MEng opportunities with their group.
- Attend seminars held by research labs that interest you.
- Reach out to instructors you know who teach in the area you’re interested in, as they may be able to point you in a useful direction. Instructors that you’ve gotten to know well (even if they don’t work in your area of interest) as well as your advisor are also useful resources, for the same reasons.
- Keep an open mind to opportunities that are outside of your area. Many students do very interesting MEng projects with faculty from other departments.
- Subscribe to the EECS Opportunities List, which often has advertisements for MEng projects.
Writing Your Proposal
Once you’ve found a supervisor, you should get to work proposing a thesis. Your thesis proposal should be completed while you are in continual conversation with your supervisor. The proposal itself should be divided into five sections:
- The introduction, to introduce the reader to the topic of your thesis.
- Related work, which describes previously-published work that is relevant to your thesis.
- Proposed work, which describes the work you will be doing for your thesis.
- Timeline, which breaks down your proposed work into concrete steps, each with an approximate due date. At a minimum, you should describe what you plan to do each semester of your MEng, but many students give a timeline that is broken down by months, not semesters.
- A bibliography
Submitting Your Proposal
The thesis proposal is typically due the last day of classes each semester (see here for official deadlines) and there are no formatting requirements for the thesis proposal. When you are ready to submit, you can do so here. If you change your topic or supervisor, you should submit a new proposal.
6-A students must also submit a thesis proposal release letter. These letters can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and should follow one of the two templates below.