Chemistry & Biochemistry - MS Prospectus

Instructions for M.S. Chemistry Prospectus


    The following procedures have been developed and approved by the Graduate Studies Subcommittee and the Educational Policy Committee of the College of Natural and Social Sciences to assist departments in the administration of the master’s thesis.

    Students shall prepare a thesis proposal (prospectus), stating the specific topic, objectives, methods, and significance of the proposed thesis project.   The prospectus should be prefaced by a narrative abstract of 250 to 500 words that is comprehensible to a general audience.  It must include a hypothesis or objective of the study, an overview of the methods, and a description of the significance of the research.  Acronyms, abbreviations, and technical jargon are to be avoided.  The thesis prospectus must be approved by the student's thesis committee and by the department’s graduate studies committee and/or chair of the department. 

    Departments should establish a thesis committee of four or more faculty.   At least two members of the committee must be tenured or tenure-track CSLA faculty.  A committee member who is not a CSLA faculty member must submit a CV with the student’s GS-12 form to the College Graduate Dean. The membership of the thesis committee and the thesis title shall be submitted to the College Graduate Studies Office on form GS-12 after approval of the department chair.  Along with the GS-12 a copy of the approved abstract of the prospectus must also be submitted.  

    Any subsequent changes in thesis title and/or committee membership must be submitted to the College Graduate Studies Office on form GS-12 in advance of the completion of the thesis.

    After approval of form GS-12, a written annual status report shall be submitted by the student to the department’s graduate studies committee and/or chair of the department, indicating progress toward completion of the thesis and degree.

    Procedures for approving the thesis shall be determined by each department.  Departments are encouraged to require a defense of the master’s thesis.  Defense of master’s thesis must be open to all faculty in the department, although only members of the thesis committee may vote. 

    Each department shall develop the appropriate mechanism to implement these procedures.

    In addition to the above requirements regarding the master's thesis, students are reminded that credit for courses will expire seven years after a course is taken, if degree requirements are not met by that time.

    Exceptions to the above procedures must be requested by petition to the College Graduate Studies Subcommittee, following approval of the petition by the department’s graduate studies committee and/or chair of the departments. 


    Within two quarters of choosing a research advisor, each student, in consultation with his or her research advisor, will establish a Thesis Committee.  At that time, the student will present to their Thesis Committee a prospectus for their thesis research program.  The Thesis Committee will meet with the student at least every six months thereafter.  The Thesis Committee, in cooperation with the student’s research advisor and the Department Graduate Advisor, will monitor the progress of the student until the completion of the degree program.

    The approved prospectus and the College GS-12 Form listing the names of the members of the Thesis Committee must be submitted to the Department Office.  The Department Chair will only approve the College GS-12 Form when an approved prospectus has been submitted.


    Guidelines for Preparation of the Prospectus


    All text is to be typed single-spaced in 12-point type (or larger).
    Margins should be one inch on all sides.
    All pages must be numbered at the bottom center of each page.


    I.       Title

    1. Conveys the specific nature of the proposed study.
    2. Formatted such that:
      1. Only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized, or
      2. All words except for articles, prepositions, and conjunctions are capitalized.


    II.     Abstract – The abstract briefly conveys what the study is about in a form comprehensible to a general audience.  Acronyms, abbreviations, and technical jargon specific to the field should be avoided.  The abstract should include a hypothesis or objective of the study, an overview of methods, and a brief statement of expected results and their significance.

    Abstract maximum:  500 words.


    III.   Objectives

    1. Includes specific hypothesis (or hypotheses) to be tested, expressed as a statement.
    2. If work will not test a hypothesis, this section should clearly state the objective(s) to be met.

    Objectives page maximum:  one-half page.


    IV.   Background

    1. Introduces topic to a reader outside of the field.
    2. Should include literature review and summary of information relevant to the proposed research.
      1. Literature review should synthesize information, not state a disconnected list of facts.
      2. Relevant unpublished data can be included.
      3. All published and unpublished work discussed must be properly referenced.
    3. Should restate Objectives section and explain how objectives relate to earlier work covered in the literature review.

    Background page maximum:  two pages.


    V.   Materials and Methods  

    An overview of the experimental design, including a summary of any experiments to be conducted, is presented.  This section should discuss the experimental system or conceptual approach of the study. 

    Materials and Methods page maximum:  one page


    VI.   Significance

    How will the proposed work contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge?

    Significance page maximum:  one-half page.


    VII.   References

    1. All references mentioned in text should be listed here.
    2. All references must follow a single format.
    3. References should follow one of the following formats:
      1. In numerical order, according to order mentioned in text, and referenced in text by number, or
      2. In alphabetical order, by first author’s last name.

    Reference page maximum:  one page.
    (A minimum of 12 referred scientific journals is required.)


    VIII. Figures and Tables (optional)

    A small number of relevant Figures and/or Tables are acceptable.  All Figures and Tables must include titles and concise, explanatory legends.


    The prospectus will be evaluated at two different levels:  (1) by the Research Advisor and (2) by the Thesis Committee.  The Research Advisor will work with the student until the prospectus is in its final form, ensuring that the scientific reasoning is correct, the prospectus is organized, and the writing is clear.  The members of the Thesis Committee will then carry out an in-depth evaluation that includes content, format, organization, style, clarity of writing, depth of student knowledge, and writing skills (grammar, spelling, etc.).  The Thesis Committee will also evaluate whether the project proposed in the prospectus is reasonable for a Master’s degree student.  At the end of this two-part evaluation, it should be concluded whether or not the student being evaluated can successfully complete the proposed research project in approximately two years.

    Following review by the Thesis Committee, the prospectus will be approved, conditionally approved, or not approved.  If conditionally approved, or not approved, it will be returned to the student with suggestions for improvement, after which the student will resubmit it to the Thesis Committee within one month.