Thesis & Project Policies


Thesis Policy Statement [Adopted January 5, 2005]

The thesis option in Computer Science permits students to carry out a research program that is then embodied in the thesis document. As stipulated by the graduate school, the thesis must be presented to a faculty committee that examines the student’s knowledge in the area of the thesis and related areas. Ideally, this research will produce a publication for the student. The Dean of the Graduate School appoints the members of the examining committee which makes a recommendation to the Dean of the Graduate School as to whether the thesis should or should not be approved.

The Graduate School states in the Instructions for the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations:

The path of their research will take them to new knowledge, new insights, new abstractions for themselves, and as they push toward and beyond the current boundaries of what is known, they will be expected to share their new knowledge with others. This sharing is the primary purpose of a thesis or dissertation. It provides an opportunity for students to be challenged intellectually in an oral defense of their work, to have their ideas tested in a scholarly setting, and to enter the world of advanced scholarly attainment.

Thesis Proposal Requirement [Adopted November 19, 2015]

Students completing the thesis option should prepare and present a thesis proposal document as outlined in the following text.

By the last day of classes of the student’s second semester of the program, the student should submit to the graduate program director the name of the faculty adviser with whom the student plans to work and a 1-paragraph description of the broad topic of the proposed thesis work.

Within 30 days from the start of classes of the third semester of the program (or the semester before anticipated graduation if on a timeline that requires less than four semesters), the student should finalize thesis committee members consisting of three faculty members, of which at least two are Computer Science Department faculty and should submit a 6 to 8 page thesis proposal document to the thesis committee   This document should be formatted using the Wake Forest University thesis template guidelines and include: Problem statement, including the importance of the problem; Discussion and critique of prior work in the area; Overview of the proposed approach; and Expected outcomes of the research.

The student should schedule a committee meeting to be held within the 30 days in which the committee reviews the student’s plans and provides feedback and approval of the proposed work. The presentation should be scheduled to last between 20 and 30 minutes and focus on addressing the four components of the proposal document.   The presentation will be open to the committee and other interested faculty but not the public and the proposal document should be submitted to the committee at least one week before the scheduled presentation.

Project Policy Statement [Adopted January 5, 2005]

The project option in computer science affords a student a software design and program development experience. Often this will be in conjunction with faculty research. The project option consists of both a complete software design using accepted software engineering methodology and a successful software implementation under the supervision of a project adviser. Final approval of the project is given by the student’s Project Committee.

A student must find a faculty adviser with whom to work on the project. Typically the project will have a natural relationship with the adviser’s research. More than one student may work with an adviser on a related topic, but each must satisfy the requirements of the project completely.

Each student’s Project Committee will be composed of three members: a project adviser, a member of the department Graduate Committee who will serve as chair of the Project Committee, and an additional department member. At least two of the three members of the Project Committee must be members of the Graduate Faculty of the University. The Project Committee will decide upon the acceptability of both the proposed project and the final design document and implementation resulting from the approved design proposal.

All projects must explicitly comply with some widely accepted software engineering methodology, for example, the seven critical steps as specified in the Waterfall Methodology found in standard software engineering texts: feasibility, requirements, design and analysis, code and module testing, integration and system testing, delivery and deployment, and maintenance. Upon completion of the planning, analysis, and design stages of the methodology, the student must submit those phases as a document to his or her Project Committee. Students who desire to graduate in May must submit this document by the second week of the previous fall semester, all others must submit by the second week of the previous Spring semester. For the student to proceed with the project, the student’s Project Committee must give written permission which indicates the first three phases have been successfully completed. This initial permission does not ensure final approval of the completed design and implementation.

There must be a public presentation of the work associated with the project. The annual Research Day sponsored by the Graduate School is an appropriate forum.

The student must submit a complete software design document consistent with the software methodology used, as well as the implementation, to his or her Project Committee. The Project Committee will transmit a written recommendation to the Dean of the Graduate School concerning the acceptability of the project.

Typically a project will require two semesters to complete.