Research Proposals and Defenses

This page contains information for all research students. Whether you are doing a research project or a research thesis, the process is nearly identical.

Important Deadlines

Please check the graduate school site for deadlines for thesis format check, thesis upload, and commencement. Usually you must be done with your thesis about 6 weeks before the end of the semester.


The purpose of the proposal phase is to make sure that all members of your committee support the research project you are pursuing. The proposal phase is mostly to protect you: Your committee members will commit to passing you on your Defense if you succeed in accomplishing what you describe in your Proposal.

Your proposal and defense cannot be in the same academic term. We recommend doing your proposal as early as possible, usually during your semester in the program.

You should use the CSE department research proposal checklist to make sure you haven't missed anything.


You should use the CSE department research defense and thesis publication checklist to make sure you haven't missed anything. You should read over it during the first month of the semester in which you graduate.

Some tips:

  • Thesis format check can be done using a draft, you don't have to wait to have a finished version. This is usually due 6 weeks prior to commencement.
  • Thesis defense must occur at least 1 week before the upload deadline, which is usually 2 weeks prior to commencement. Your defense announcement must be posted 1 week prior to the defense.
  • Defense of a project that does not involve a thesis must occur at least 1 week before commencement. Your defense announcement must be posted 1 week prior to the defense.
  • Academic track students: You must produce a thesis, which is a report on your research. 
    • You should read the graduate school's Guide for Writing Theses and Dissertations right now. It includes useful timelines, deadline information, and all the steps needed to complete your thesis.
    • While your thesis is expected to be mostly your own work, it may contain material that was originally co-authored with your advisor or other members of your research group. In this case, however, proper attribution must be made.
    • Your thesis must be given to your thesis committee members at least 2 weeks before your defense.
    • After your defense there are several more steps that must be taken in order to publish and archive your thesis. See the Guide for Writing Theses and Dissertations
  • Industry with Research Experience students: You must produce a presentation that reports on your research. Your presentation materials should be submitted to the department administrative assistant to be archived by the CSE department.
  • Both tracks: Your defense is a public presentation and examination on the material in your thesis. It must be announced publicly at least one week before the defense. See the checklist at the top of this page for more information.