Undergraduate Thesis Option

(Last updated May 11, 2015)

 

Motivation

An IS undergraduate thesis can enrich exceptional students’ learning experience by allowing them to explore an IS research topic in a greater depth. It can engage talented undergraduates in the formation, design, execution and general creative culture of research, leading to new knowledge that can benefit the field and society overall.   A thesis will substantially prepare students, strengthen their education, and give them a distinct advantage for a graduate degree and successful career.  Students may be IS majors or have a keen interest in researching an IS related topic. 

 

Eligibility

Students applying for the IS Undergraduate Thesis Program must meet the following criteria:

1. Have an overall GPA of 3.0 or greater.

2. Be junior standing (or completing the application before the start of their senior year).

3. Have completed IS 488 or equivalent course.

Any NJIT student with a passion for IS-oriented research, including members of the Albert Dorman Honors College, is invited to explore the IS Undergraduate Thesis Program.  For more information on the specific requirements for an Honors undergraduate thesis, please see Appendix A of this document.

We strongly encourage students planning to do a thesis to start working on research with a faculty member as early as possible before the junior year in preparation for the thesis, in order to become familiar with research and begin a mentoring relationship with a potential Faculty Advisor.  Many faculty welcome students to join on-going projects to gain research experience.

 

Thesis Option Structure

Because of the richness, broad application and continual evolution of the IS field, each thesis can have a unique structure approved by the student’s Thesis Committee.

 

Deliverable

Generally, a thesis must comprise:

• A review of the “state of the art” of publications and other works in the thesis area.

• Conceptualizing a research question, explicating the necessary methods to answer the question, and analysis of data

• A design, analysis, and evaluation concerning one or more of the following aspects: market demand, usability, efficiency or effectiveness.

• A result that has the potential to be published in a scientific forum, disseminated online or in a public space in a way that affirms its high quality, patented, or performed in a public space.

 

Possible technologies to research include information mining, analytics and big data systems; business intelligence; decision support; enterprise systems; web systems; online communities and social networks; apps; gaming; wearable computing; immersive or augmented online environment; the “Internet of Things”; and devices that interact with people.  Many domains are possible such as business, medical and health care, and educational systems.

 

Possible types of thesis studies include:

• Comprehensive survey and analysis of literature or other works in an IS-related domain.

• Socio-technical study of how some type of technology is or could be used.

• Analysis and design (and possibly development and evaluation) of a new technology or technological product.

• Design, development and evaluation of a substantial data or web analytics study, application or new technique.

 

The thesis program is designed to fit within a student’s regular degree program and standard time to completion, using elective courses and taking advantage of research opportunities outside of formal classes.  (Honors students requirements will be reduced as described in Appendix A.) 

 

An Undergraduate Thesis requires a substantial coherent, coordinated and sustained study that is designed and conducted over two or more semesters.  Students may work with instructors in other courses to coordinate projects to contribute to the thesis, but the thesis will require a substantial amount of additional work as part of its required independent study and research thesis courses.

 

Courses

Thesis students should choose a set of appropriate core and elective courses in consultation with their Thesis Advisor and academic advisors to develop domain knowledge, analysis skills, research methodology skills, design and development skills, and/or possibly experience in research-oriented writing or entrepreneurial skills.   Generally students will need the background knowledge of one of the Information Systems majors or minors, or a closely related program.

 

Students are required to take IS 488 and IS 489, or two equivalent independent study and research thesis courses in other majors.   Honors students should take the honors version of these courses.  IS 488 or an equivalent independent study course may be waived in exceptional circumstances where the Thesis Advisor or Program Director ascertains equivalent progress has been made in other ways.  We also recommend that all thesis students take ENG 352H and any research methods courses recommended by your Thesis Advisor.

 

If the thesis student is working on funded research, any funded work will be in addition to the requirements for the independent study and research thesis courses (IS 488 and IS 489 or equivalent).  Students may not be paid for the work done in these courses, though research funding can cover course tuition.

 

Participation in Formal Research Programs and Informal Projects

Summer Research:  We strongly recommend thesis students to participate in either a formal summer research program or informal summer research under the guidance of their Thesis Advisor or Thesis Committee Member during the summer before their final thesis year.  If possible, students will conduct research for more than one summer, starting as early as feasible.

 

Academic Year Research:   If students cannot work on research during the summer, they should arrange to conduct research under the guidance of their Thesis Advisor or Thesis Committee Member for a corresponding amount of time during regular semesters.

 

Because research practice is so important to success, students unable to make such commitments must gain permission from their Thesis Advisor to continue the thesis program.

 

Thesis Advisor and Committee

Your Thesis Advisor can be any Distinguished Professor, Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor or University Lecturer active in research, including Joint Appointment Faculty, Professors Emeriti and Research Professors, listed on the IS Department Faculty web page.

 

Your Thesis Committee will comprise your Thesis Advisor and 2 other faculty members active in research and appropriate for your research area.  These faculty do not need to hold appointments with the IS Department, but must be approved by the IS Undergraduate Program Director. Your Thesis Advisor or at least one other Thesis Committee member must hold one of the professor ranks. Honors students must additionally include one representative from the Albert Dorman Honors College as an Honors College Reader committee member.

 

Thesis Deliverable and Final Completion

Your final thesis deliverable must reflect the elements described earlier.  Your Thesis Advisor and Committee must agree on its format, extent, content and substance. You will submit an extended outline of the thesis by the end of your junior year to ensure you are on the right track.   (Honors students will submit this outline the semester after applying.)

 

In addition to the primary deliverable, your Thesis Advisor and Committee may require a submission-quality draft of a publication.  They may require a formal public Thesis Defense.  They may require a separate public presentation in an appropriate format and forum.

 

Your Thesis Advisor, Thesis Committee and the Undergraduate Program Director must sign off that your thesis and any of these additional requirements have been completed, for your thesis to be approved and recognized.

 

Recommended Timeline (Non-Honors Students)

• Sophomore year: Start exploring research and thesis ideas with potential Thesis Advisors.   Consider working on a research project during the summer between sophomore and junior year.

• Summers before junior and senior years: Participate in formal research programs, if possible.

• Sophomore or junior year: Take IS 488 or equivalent course supervised by your Thesis Advisor.

• Semester after taking IS 488: Apply for IS Undergraduate Thesis Program

• Sophomore or junior year: Recommend taking ENG 352H and any appropriate research methods courses.

• End of junior year: Submit extended outline of your Thesis to your Thesis Advisor and Committee for comment.

• Senior year: Take IS 489 or equivalent course supervised by your Thesis Advisor

• End of first semester senior year: Submit draft version of your Thesis to your Thesis Advisor and Committee for comment.

• March 15 or November 15 of final senior semester: Submit completed senior thesis to Thesis Committee, and make any required revisions within an agreed upon time period.  Your Thesis Committee may require a public Defense and/or other presentation of your thesis. 

 

Honors students applying for the IS Undergraduate Thesis program must also adhere to the Honors requirements and timeline outlined in Appendix A.

 

Application Process

Students applying for the IS Undergraduate Thesis Programs as follows:

1. Find a Thesis advisor.

2. Write a 1-2 page proposal approved by your Thesis advisor (written after consulting with him or her).

3. Organize a thesis committee, in consultation with your Thesis Advisor.

4. Signed approval for entering the Thesis Program, your Thesis Advisor and your Thesis Committee by the IS Undergraduate Program Director and Academic Advisor.

• Honors students must also gain approval from the Honors College.

For more information and suggested Thesis Advisors appropriate to your interests, contact the Information Systems Undergraduate Program Director. 

Appendix A – Honors Undergraduate Thesis Requirements

 

Requirements for the Honors undergraduate thesis differ from the traditional undergraduate thesis in several ways:

• Every Honors student’s thesis committee must include a representative from the Honors College as the Honors College Reader.

• Honors students participating in research will have their Honors course requirements reduced in consultation with the Honors Reader committee member.

• Honors students wishing to complete an Honors undergraduate thesis must submit an Honors Thesis Application form for approval to the Honors Thesis Reader committee member advisor.

• The Technical Writing Honors course (ENG 352H) or similar course with a focus on research writing is strongly recommended for Honors students in the research track.

• In the first semester of their research experience after being accepted into the IS Thesis Program, Honors students must complete a 1 to 2 page thesis proposal that must be approved (whether through a written or oral defense) by the student’s Thesis Committee including a representative from the Honors College. 

• Every Honors student’s thesis committee must include a representative from the Honors College.

• At the beginning of every semester of thesis research after being accepted into the IS Thesis Program, the Honors student will provide a written update to the Honors College Reader committee member thesis advisor highlighting progress made and major milestones for that semester.

• The written Honors undergraduate research thesis must adhere to the writing and formatting guidelines provided by the Honors College.

• Students who choose to opt out of the Honors thesis option lose the privilege of reduced Honors course requirements and must complete the full 11 courses in the traditional track (which can include IS 488H and IS 489H).  Students who choose to opt out must consider that switching to the traditional Honors course track may mean that they cannot complete the Honors course requirements and therefore risk not graduating from the Honors College.

• If progress on the Honors thesis is unsatisfactory, the grades of thesis courses the course will reflect the student’s effort.

These requirements must be met in addition to the general IS undergraduate thesis requirements outlined previously.

 

Recommended Timeline (Honors Students)

• Sophomore year or earlier: Start exploring research and thesis ideas with potential Thesis Advisors.   Consider working on a research project each summer.

• Summers: Participate in formal research programs, if possible.

• Sophomore or junior year: Take IS 488H or equivalent course supervised by your Thesis Advisor.

• Semester after taking IS 488H: Apply for IS Undergraduate Thesis Program

• Sophomore or junior year: Recommend taking ENG 352H and any appropriate research methods courses.

• In the first semester of their research experience after being accepted into the IS Thesis Program, Honors students must complete a 1 to 2 page thesis proposal that must be approved (whether through a written or oral defense) by the student’s thesis committee.

• At the beginning of every semester of thesis research after applying to the program, provide a written update to the Honors College Reader committee member highlighting progress made and major milestones for that semester.

• Senior year: Take IS 489H or equivalent course supervised by your Thesis Advisor

• End of first semester senior year: Submit draft version of your Thesis to your Thesis Advisor and Committee for comment.

• March 15 or November 15 of final senior semester: Submit completed senior thesis to Thesis Committee, and make any required revisions within an agreed upon time period. 

• Publically defend your Thesis.