Chemistry & Biochemistry - MS Prospectus

M.S. Degree Thesis Committee and Prospectus Guidelines

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Within the first semester, each student, in consultation with his or her research advisor, shall establish a Thesis Committee.  The student will subsequently (usually during the second semester) present to their Thesis Committee a prospectus for their thesis research program.  The Thesis Committee will meet with the student at least every six months thereafter.  The Thesis Committee, in cooperation with the student’s research advisor and the Department Graduate Advisor, will monitor the progress of the student until the completion of the degree program.

The approved prospectus and the College GS-12 Form listing the names of the members of the Thesis Committee must be submitted to the Department Office.  The Department Chair will only approve the College GS-12 Form when an approved prospectus has been submitted.

Guidelines for Preparation of the Prospectus

All text is to be typed single-spaced in 12-point type (or larger).

Margins should be one inch on all sides.

All pages must be numbered at the bottom center of each page.


I.       Title

  1. Conveys the specific nature of the proposed study.
  2. Formatted such that:

1.      Only the first word and proper nouns are capitalized, or

2.      All words except for articles, prepositions, and conjunctions are capitalized.

II.     Abstractmaximum 500 words.

The abstract briefly conveys what the study is about in a form comprehensible to a general audience.  Acronyms, abbreviations, and technical jargon specific to the field should be avoided.  The abstract should include a hypothesis or objective of the study, an overview of methods, and a brief statement of expected results and their significance.

III.    Objectives – maximum one-half page.

A.     Includes specific hypothesis (or hypotheses) to be tested, expressed as a statement.

B.      If work will not test a hypothesis, this section should clearly state the objective(s) to be met.

IV.    Background – maximum two pages.

A.     Introduces topic to a reader outside of the field.

B.      Should include literature review and summary of information relevant to the proposed research.

1.      Literature review should synthesize information, not state a disconnected list of facts.

2.      Relevant unpublished data can be included.

3.      All published and unpublished work discussed must be properly referenced.

C.      Should restate Objectives section and explain how objectives relate to earlier work covered in the literature review.

V.     Materials and Methods – maximum one page.

An overview of the experimental design, including a summary of any experiments to be conducted, is presented.  This section should discuss the experimental system or conceptual approach of the study.

VI. Significance – maximum one-half page.

How will the proposed work contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge?

VII.   References – maximum one page, with a minimum of 12 peer-reviewed papers from scientific journals.

  1. All references mentioned in text should be listed here.
  2. All chemistry prospecti must follow the ACS Reference Format.  A brief online guide on the proper format is at  Prospecti in biochemistry may follow either the ACS Format or the Journal of Biological Chemistry. 
  3. References should be numerical order, according to order mentioned in text, and referenced in the text by number.

VIII. Figures and Tables – optional.

A small number of relevant Figures and/or Tables are acceptable.  All Figures and Tables must include titles and concise, explanatory legends.


Evaluation of the Prospectus:


The prospectus will be evaluated at two different levels:  (1) by the Research Advisor and (2) by the Thesis Committee.  The Research Advisor will work with the student until the prospectus is in its final form, ensuring that the scientific reasoning is correct, the prospectus is organized, and the writing is clear.  The members of the Thesis Committee will then carry out an in-depth evaluation that includes content, format, organization, style, clarity of writing, depth of student knowledge, and writing skills (grammar, spelling, etc.).  The Thesis Committee will also evaluate whether the project proposed in the prospectus is reasonable for a Master’s degree student.  At the end of this two-part evaluation, it should be concluded whether or not the student being evaluated can successfully complete the proposed research project in approximately two years.


Following review by the Thesis Committee, the prospectus will be approved, conditionally approved, or not approved.  If conditionally approved, or not approved, it will be returned to the student with suggestions for improvement, after which the student will resubmit it to the Thesis Committee within one month.