Master's Thesis

Writing, Defending and Filing Your Master's Thesis

Your thesis is based on original research. The subject, format and all other aspects of the research are guided by the students thesis committee.

During the semester in which you intend to complete and file your thesis, you will enroll in Biology 898 (Thesis Research) — except when the thesis is filed during summer (see below). To register in Biology 898 a student must be fully classified and have: filed an approved ATC Form, a Thesis Prospectus and a Proposal for Culminating Experience Form. Students generally will have completed 3 - 6 units of research course work prior to registering for Biology 898. This course is completed when the Master's Thesis has been approved by the student's graduate committee and by the University Graduate Office.

Summer Filing. If you intend to file your thesis in the summer, you must enroll in Biology 898 in the spring semester — not during the summer. This means that your GAP, etc. must be filed in the previous fall semester.

Master's Applied Research Project

 In lieu of a thesis, Biology graduate students may elect to undertake an Applied Research Project. This option is nearly identical to the thesis option, with similar requirements. The differences are:

  • The Culminating Experience course is Biology 895 (3 units)
  • The final research project does not go forth to the Division of Graduate Studies

Thesis/Project Committee

You must arrange for three faculty members to be on your thesis committee. At least two of these members must be tenured or tenure-track faculty of Biology at SF State.

Your major advisor must be a regular faculty member of the Biology Department at SF State, Research Faculty at the California Academy of Sciences or graduate faculty at the Romberg Tiburon Center.

Occasionally the third reader on a committee will be outside of the Biology Department. Outside readers must hold a Ph.D. degree or equivalent.

It is your responsibility to confer with the committee about your research program.

All members of the committee will read your thesis/project prior to your preparing the final copy. The major advisor has the principal responsibility for approving the thesis and adjudicating disagreements.

All members of the committee must sign the Proposal for Culminating Experience Requirement and the Approval Page in the written thesis/project.

Oral Defense of the Thesis/Project

All Biology graduate students are required to present an Oral Defense of Thesis/Project at about the same time that they file their thesis/project.

All defenses are to be held on the SF State campus or at the Romberg Tiburon Center and are open to the public.

At least two of the three committee members must be present at the defense. The major professor is required to be in attendance.

The format of the defense should be decided by the committee.

Fliers announcing the defense must be posted in Hensill Hall at least one week prior to the defense. You should also request the Graduate Secretary to send an email announcement of your defense to the faculty and graduate students in Biology.

Take to your defense a Report of Completion of Requirements form (not downloadable — get the form from the Biology Office), have it signed and return it to the graduate secretary.

Filing the Thesis

Once your committee has approved your thesis you must file it with Graduate Studies. Guidelines for formatting the thesis are detailed on the Graduate Studies website. Follow their guidelines precisely.