You must have satisfied the Competency in Written English, or you must be enrolled
in an approved technical writing course in order to enroll in CS 297. You must have
satisfied the Competency in Written English requirement to enroll in CS298/299. No
Preparing for the Project
MSCS students are required to complete a 2-semester thesis (297 + 299, also called
"Plan A" in the university catalog) or writing project (297 + 298, also called "Plan
If you choose the thesis or writing project path, you must decide whether you want
to work on a writing project or a thesis. The principal difference is that the writing
project will not be filed with the Associate Vice President of Graduate Studies and
Research. The Graduate Studies office is very stringent about English language usage
and typography of theses.
You must find an advisor who is willing to work with you. It is a good idea to be
flexible and be prepared to work with one of several potential advisors.
You and your advisor must agree on a topic for your project. Again, it is a good idea
to be flexible and find a topic that is of interest to you and your advisor.
You should start contacting potential advisors by the middle of the semester preceding
the start of the project.
Projects must have appropriate depth for graduate work. "Literature review" and "routine
implementation" projects will not be approved by the department. Projects that are
merely lengthy but shallow are not appropriate. In particular, you need to be able
to demonstrate how your project rises above the level of a senior undergraduate project.
We consider the following criteria:
technical innovation: are you using new techniques that have not been used in this
way in the past?
technical challenge: are the tools and techniques that you are using so difficult
that they require the maturity of a graduate student?
theoretical foundations: are you providing a theoretical framework for your work,
for example by discussing architectural patterns, by analyzing the relationships between
your implementation and prior art, or by performing a mathematical analysis?
quantitative analysis: are you gathering and evaluating quantitative data?
Your project deliverables should show that your project meets one or more of these
The results of your project (i.e. the final report and the source code) must be available
for public inspection. Proprietary work is not appropriate.
It is strongly suggested that you do some implementation work and some writing in
the first semester.
At the end of the first semester, you report your progress to your advisor and your
committee members. Your advisor determines how this should be done (a report, a presentation
to the committee, etc.)
You and your advisor need to find two additional committee members to form a 3-member
The advisor and at least one other committee member must be a permanent member of
the CS faculty.
You must form the committee by the end of the first semester.
If at any time you need to change the committee, you need to have written approval
from the department.
You need to keep your committee members updated throughout your project. Meet with
them at least three times (at the end of the first semester, a month into the second
semester, and when you are about to complete your work). Solicit their input early
so that you are not surprised by requests for enhancements late in the project or
even worse, the defense.
In the defense, all committee members must agree that your work is complete and correct.
Committee members have the right and the obligation to reject substandard projects.
The 298/299 Proposal
To continue your project, you need to file a 298/299 proposal (1-2 pages) with the
department. In the proposal, you need to list
your, your advisor's and committee members' names, email addresses, and affiliations
(if not SJSU CS regular faculty)
a description of your project
a summary of your 297 results
a proposed schedule for the completion of your project
a concrete description of deliverables in your software and report
a description of the challenging and/or innovative aspects of your proposal
a list of literature references
If you are retaking CS 298/299 and your proposal has not changed, add a statement:
"This is a continuation of the CS 298/299 project that was approved for (insert semester),
and there are no changes to the proposal."
Your proposal must be in proper English. The department may reject plans that contain
too many spelling or grammar errors.
File your proposal within one week after the first day of classes of the semester in which you want to to take 298/299. (You may file it at the end
of the preceding semester if you prefer.)
As a rule, instructors and the department are unlikely to agree to the supervision
of projects over the summer, due to travel plans and reduced compensation for summer
classes. If you want to take the course over the summer, and your instructor and the department chair agree to it, you must file the form no later than two weeks before the last day of classes of the preceding Spring semester.
Your report must be in proper English. It is your job--and not that of your advisor
or committee members--to proofread your report and fix any spelling and grammar errors before you give it to your committee to read. Your advisor and committee members are responsible
for reviewing the technical contents of your report, not your spelling and grammar.
Your committee--or in the case of a thesis, the Graduate School--has the right to
reject your report if it is not written in proper English.
You must submit the draft report at least two weeks before the scheduled defense. Upload the report to http://turnitin.com with course ID 12012749 and password swordfish. Then go to the CS Department Office
and obtain, fill out, and submit an Oral Defense Room Request Form.
Contact the office to request a room assignment. You will receive it after the plagiarism
check has passed. The office will post an official announcement of your defense.
The defense date must be before the last day of the semester. It is strongly suggested
to schedule the defense before the first day of finals.
If you schedule your defense during finals, it may happen that no room is available. It is acceptable for you to reserve a room in Clark Hall or the library.
These rooms are only available for checkout by students, so you must do this. The office cannot do it for you. You must then notify the office so
that they can post an official announcement with the correct time and location.
Any rescheduling of the defense requires two weeks notice.
If you do not follow this procedure (that is, if you simply find your own room and
hold the "defense" there without plagiarism check and an official announcement), you
will not be allowed to graduate.
The defense must have been officially announced by the department in order to be valid.
The defense is open to the public.
You need to procure any necessary projection equipment.
In the defense, you will give a presentation of your project and answer questions
from the committee and the audience. You should bring a printed copy of your written
report to the defense and make it available to the audience.
The committee may request modifications to your work.
You need to get your advisor's and your committee members' signature which the department
office should have prepared for your advisor.
Turn in that form to the department office.
Your Final Report
Produce a PDF file with name lastname_ firstname.pdf where firstname,lastname are your first and last name in lowercase. For example, John Q. Nguyen would send
a file nguyen_john.pdf, that is, the six lowercase letters n g u y e n followed by an underscore (U+005F), the four lowercase letters j o h n, a period (U+002E), and the three lowercase letters p d f. Do not zip the file.
The cover page of your report should contain your name and the title of your project
in Title Case (not all uppercase) and the publication year. You must supply an abstract (a single paragraph, < 1000 characters). Your abstract must be legible on its own. Do not include page
references, section references, or literature references. Your abstract must consist
of UTF-8 characters that can be copied out of Adobe Acrobat. If you use TeX, you must figure out how not to have ligatures appear as invalid characters.
Once you made any final changes to your report, ask your advisor to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The report will be posted on http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu (by default) or, for the first year on a protected web site (by your or your advisor's
written request, to allow for publication)
Once you have seen your report published, you can go to the office and ask them to
send a "Culminating Experience Memo" to Graduate Studies. That will trigger your graduation.