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Dept. of Computer Science
California State Univ.
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330
Phone (818) 677-3398
FAX (818) 677-7208


Guidelines for Forming a Thesis or Project Committee


When to Form a Committee

The ideal time to form a committee is after you have taken the core classes and you have begun taking electives.  This gives you the opportunity to choose some of your electives so they are relevant to your project or thesis topic.   Do not wait to form your committee until you have completed all your course work because you may be asked by your committee to take additional classes that pertain to your project or thesis work.  Similarly, do not wait until you are about to defend your work to submit your Program of Study (see 7 and 8 below) since this form requires approvals from your advisor, from the graduate coordinator, and from the Graduate Studies office.  Needless to say, you must be fully classified before you can do any of this.

Typically you will begin your thesis work immediately after forming your committee -- see steps 1 - 9 below.  Ideally, then, you should form your committee at the end of one semester and then begin work on the project or thesis the following semester by taking Comp 696C.  If necessary, you can complete some of the formalities of forming your committee the semester you are taking Comp 696C, but you should plan to take two full semesters to complete your project.  It is virtually impossible to complete a project, including the research, the programming, the testing, the consulting with your advisor, the write-up, the rewriting the write-up, the defense, etc. in a single semester.  Plan to take Comp 696C one semester and Comp 698C the following semester.  The catalog states:  students may register for at most 3 units of thesis work in the semester they begin this work.

Steps to Forming a Committee

  1. It is your responsibility to choose a chair for your committee by visiting those faculty you feel will best match your interests and finding one who will agree to chair your committee.  You might want to see what research interests our faculty have and visit their web pages to get an idea as to who might be an appropriate advisor for you.

  2. Once you get a faculty member to agree to chair your committee you must prepare a proposal.  Please look at the Graduate Thesis and Project Proposals page to learn more about proposals.  The proposal must be typed, is typically about 5 pages long, and should be free of spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors. Even if your committee chair approves your proposal, the graduate coordinator must also approve it.  So, please, prepare your proposal with the care and precision you would any other important document.

  3. With the help of your committee chair select another computer science faculty member to be your second committee member.

  4. Also with the help of your committee chair, find the third member for your committee from any department, including Computer Science. Normally this member is from the College, but may be from any department at CSUN or from off-campus. If you select an off-campus individual to be your third committee member you must also obtain a copy of that person's resume so that we may evaluate their qualifications to perform their duties as a committee member.

  5. Obtain a Thesis/Graduate Project Planning Form. These are available from the Dean's office, the Graduate Studies Office (University Hall, room 265), or from the graduate coordinator. The chair of your committee approves your proposal by signing BOTH the proposal and the Thesis/Graduate Project Planning Form.

  6. Submit your approved proposal to the other committee members. After reviewing your proposal they will either decline to serve on your committee, requiring you to find a replacement, or they will agree to serve and should then sign the Thesis/Graduate Project Planning Form. You do not have an official committee until this form is properly filed.

  7. After completing the Thesis/Graduate Project Planning Form and obtaining the committee members' signatures you should obtain the Program for the Master of Science Degree in Computer Science form. These forms are available at the Computer Science office (JD 4503) and from the graduate coordinator (JD 4403).   Fill this form out and get it approved by the chair of your committee by having him sign it.

  8. Submit the approved proposal, the Thesis/Graduate Project Planning Form, and the Program for the Master of Science Degree in Computer Science form to the graduate coordinator for final approval. You must submit all three forms at the same time.

  9. You should discuss with each committee member what they expect in your thesis or project report, and the procedures to follow in seeking their approval. Some faculty want to be involved in early drafts; some only want to see the final draft. Some faculty leave all discussion of technical content to the committee chair; some want a strong say in the technical content. Some faculty have particular ideas about the writing style. Settle all such matters early.

  10. You must submit the final review draft of the thesis or project to all members of the committee by the end of the twelfth week of the semester in which you intend to graduate. This draft should have already been reviewed by your committee chair numerous times, but the final review by the committee chair should begin by the ninth week of classes. Special registration may be available for you in the following semester if your report is not approved by the deadline but only minor changes remain to be made. You should ask your thesis or project chair about the "Culminating Experience" form. You can obtain one from Graduate Studies (University Hall, room 265).

  11. You should also examine the document entitled Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses, Graduate Projects, and Artistic Abstracts at your earliest convenience. You may find out how to download this booklet by clicking here or you can get a hardcopy from the Graduate Studies Office (University Hall, room 265).

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Last updated: February 22, 2008.