Thesis Guidelines

  1. Cover Sheet. The thesis title, your name, your professor’s name, your professor’s department, the date, and your professor’s signature with the statement, “I have supervised this work, read this thesis and certify that it has my approval” should all be included on the cover sheet.
  2. Introduction and Literature Review. This section is intended to provide a short introduction to the questions addressed in your thesis, including a review of the relevant literature. The literature review need not be extensive, but it should summarize the status of the field at the time the project was undertaken. This section should conclude with a clear, concise statement of the hypothesis to be tested or the questions to be answered.
  3. Materials and Methods. In this section, the materials (usually biological and/or chemical) used in your experiments should be reported and all techniques should be described. If a technique has been used essentially as reported in the literature, you can reference it without further description, but you should note any significant modifications of the original report. Methods should be reported in sufficient detail to allow an interested colleague to reproduce the experiments, if desired.
  4. Results. The purpose of this section is to describe your major experimental findings, which are usually summarized in the form of tables or figures. Tables and figures should be numbered consecutively, with each on a separate page. They may be inserted into the text as needed (usually as the page immediately following the text page on which a given table or figure is first mentioned) or collected together at the end of the thesis.
  5. Discussion and Conclusions. This section is intended to provide a discussion, interpretation, and summary of your findings. The conclusions that can be drawn from the data should be stated clearly and defended concisely. It is often appropriate to discuss your results in light of the findings of other investigators, particularly if your conclusions appear to be in conflict with those of others.
  6. References. All references cited in the text should be collected together in a bibliographic listing at the end of the thesis. You should use a consistent format for all references. References may be cited in the text by number (in parentheses or as superscripts) and listed here in order of citation. Alternatively, you can cite in references by name and list them alphabetically here. In the latter case, papers with one or two authors are usually cited in the text by name(s) and year (i.e., Smith and Kuba, 1999), whereas papers with three or more authors are usually cited as the first author et al. with the year (i.e., Smith et al., 1999).
  7. Other Sections. It is helpful to include a short (one-page) abstract or summary and a table of contents at the beginning of your thesis. You may also wish to include a page of acknowledgements to express your appreciation to those who were especially helpful to you in your work.
  8. Appendices. Experimental details or findings that are only tangentially relevant to the thesis may be included as appendices, if it seems desirable to preserve a record of the information.

Final Thesis Submission

Upon receiving your thesis advisor’s approval for the finished thesis, submit the thesis as an email attachment to The final deadline to submit the thesis is due on THE LAST DAY OF FINALS OF THAT SEMESTER.

If you anticipate needing additional time to complete the work, you must discuss this with your thesis advisor and contact the Molecular and Cell Biology Academic Advisor. You will receive a grade of ‘incomplete’ if thesis is not submitted and graded by grade submission deadline. If you are graduating and need the 6 credits for graduation, you will not officially graduate until the thesis is reviewed and the ‘incomplete’ is removed.

If you do choose to take an ‘incomplete’, your final thesis must be submitted to the Molecular and Cell Biology Academic Advisor no later than the end of the first week of the next semester for which you register. If you need an extension past this deadline, you must request an extended incomplete from your thesis advisor AND have your thesis advisor contact the Molecular and Cell Biology Academic Advisor. Failing to do this will result in the ‘incomplete’ lapsing into an F.