Thesis Process

Students who choose the thesis option should begin thinking about potential thesis topics early on in their coursework. CSS 565: Research Methods in Software Development serves in part to emphasize and articulate the nature and breadth of thesis research. Students may take CSS 600: Independent Study or Research credits to explore working with a potential thesis topic and faculty advisor. For additional information on pursuing the thesis tract, please see the CSS Graduate Advisor.


The Thesis process for the CSS program is  outlined below.  Students interested in pursuing a thesis track should coordinate key administrative milestones with the CSS Advisor early in their thesis research.

Step 1: Form a Supervisory Committee

Students who desire to register for thesis credits must file a request to form a Master’s Supervisory Committee no later than the eighth week of the quarter PRECEDING the start of a student’s thesis credits. Requests take approximantley one month to complete. A student may request for specific faculty to staff their supervisory committee; however, final staffing assignments of the supervisory committee resides with the CSS Associate Director of Graduate Studies. Once a supervisory request has been granted, students will receive an email from the CSS Graduate Advisor notifying them of the approved committee and an entry code to register for CSS 700: Master's Thesis.  Students are encouraged to submit their request early, to avoid any registration late fees.

A supervisor committee will consist of a student’s Faculty Advisor (who will serve as committee Chair) and at least 1-3 additional faculty members. At least two of the committee members must be CSS faculty whose primary appointment is in Computing & Software Systems Program. The Chair and at least one-half of the total membership must be members of the graduate faculty. For proposals with Chairs outside of the CSS Program, please contact the Graduate Advising Office prior to submission of the request.

Step 2: File a Thesis Plan

By the end of the second week of the first quarter a student is registered for thesis credit; the student must submit a faculty advisor approved thesis plan to the student’s supervisory committee and the CSS Graduate Advising Office. The plan should briefly present the questions to be addressed and the methodologies intended in the thesis research. Included in the plan should be a timetable showing how progress will be made in the research and writing of the thesis. There are no penalties for deviations in the approved plan or failure to meet the estimates in the timetable. The thesis plan simply provides a well-defined start for the remainder of the thesis research.

Step 3: File a Master's Degree Request

In the first week of the quarter a student is registered for their final credits for the MSCSE they are required to submit a Master’s Degree Request via the Graduate School website Students are encouraged to plan their degree curriculum accordingly, so that their final thesis requirements serve as the culmination of their degree coursework. Students must be registered for credits during the quarter they want to graduate.

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Step 4: Final Examination and Defense

Students must schedule a Final Examination to complete the requirements of the MSCSE degree. Approximately one academic quarter prior to the Final Examination, determine the date/time of the exam with the members of the supervisory committee attending the exam (all members must be able to certify the results of the exam). The Final Examination must take place no later than the third day of the last week of the quarter (final exam week) in which all degree requirements are met.

Once a date/time is confirmed with the supervisory committee, students must inform the CSS Graduate Advising Office of the date/time, title of thesis, and names of supervisory committee attending. The advising office will help reserve a room for the presentation.

Two weeks prior to the final exam, students are required to submit a complete draft of the thesis to their supervisory committee for review. Students must be registered for credits during the quarter they want to graduate.

On the day of the final examination and defense, the CSS Graduate Advisor will print the Master’s Degree Warrant (the request for a master’s degree that the student completed earlier) and give the warrant to the Chair of the student’s Supervisory Committee.

The Final Examination typically consists of a presentation by the student, followed by an opportunity for the audience to ask questions. At the end of this question and answer period, the general public is asked to leave and the supervisory committee is given the opportunity to ask questions in private. At the end, the student is asked to leave, and the committee meets to decide on the outcome of the thesis defense. The student is notified of the outcome immediately. If the examination is not satisfactory, the committee may recommend to the Dean of the Graduate School that the student be allowed to take another examination after a period of further study.

Upon successful completion of the exam, all committee members must sign the Master’s Degree warrant and Master's Supervisory Reading Committee Approval Form. Signed  forms are returned to the CSS Graduate Advisor by the Committee Chair immediately at the end of the examination.

Once the signed forms have been processed, students will be sent an email via the MyGrad Program notifying them that a recommendation has been made on the Master’s degree request they filed at the start of the quarter.

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Step 5: File your Thesis with the UW Graduate School & Computing & Software Systems Program

 Students must submit an electronic copy of their thesis to the UW Graduate School by 11:59 PM PST of the last day of the quarter they intend to graduate.  Failure to meet this deadline will delay graduation.  Please follow the directions as published by the UW Graduate School:

All MSCSSE Thesis track Students are required to file a digital copy of their thesis with the CSS Graduate Advising Office no later than the final day of the quarter they intend to graduate.

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Have Questions?

For questions on any of this information, or other matters, please contact the CSS Graduate Advisor.

(425) 352-3494