Rules of the Road for M.S. Thesis Students

With thanks to Professor Laurie Williams, whose M.S. Milestone Table served as the basis for the table below!

The following are M.S. thesis completion milestones for those students who have chosen Dr. Antón as their thesis advisor. It is important for students to adhere to this schedule to ensure a valuable research contribution to the software engineering comminity and a quality M.S. thesis.

An M.S. thesis advisor's role is to help pace each M.S. student and help expose the student to the experiences they need to establish a strong record as a researcher. This does not happen all at once; students need time to develop as researchers and to develop a strong record. This document is intended to help Dr. Antón's students plan their M.S. program by serving as a milestone road map.

In the below chart, time T is the semester in which a student would like to graduate. T-1 is one semester before you would like to graduate and so forth. Students must complete these milestones on schedule. Students cannot advance to T-1 until all T-2 milestones are completed and approved. That means a student's graduation date will be pushed out a semester when milestones are not completed on time.

It typically takes a full-time student 2 years to complete the M.S. program. The schedule below is ambitious and intended for students expecting to graduate within two years; it provides a road map for these students. The milestones to successfully transition from one semester to the next, however, hold true whether a student graduates in two or three years. The pace of advancement is based upon each student's progress, which is greatly influenced by work ethic and ability to remain focused.

The schedule below does not take field work (e.g. summer internships) into account . Field work can be very beneficial for students and can serve to better ground one's research within a broader context. A one semester internship, however, will likely delay a student's progress in the M.S. program by up to two semesters. It is up to the student to weigh advantages and disadvantages of such opportunities as they arise in consultation with his/her advisor (and maybe committee).

Students who are funded by Dr. Antón are expected to publish at least one high quality paper (e.g. NCSU technical report, workshop paper, conference paper or journal paper) during each semester that they receive funding. Each paper has to be be approved by the advisor as being of appropriate quality. Those students funded to develop software must, at a minimum, publish a Technical Report about the given software artifact. This ensures that students have a strong publication record by the time they graduate. Additionally, it ensures that students remain focused and are appropriately disseminating the results of their work. Students that are experiencing a medical hardship (e.g. learning disabilities, hospitalization, etc.) are encouraged to meet with Dr. Antón to arrange an appropriate schedule.

By the time an M.S. thesis student graduates, he/she should ideally have at least one high-quality research paper published, accepted for publication or under review for publication.

T-3 or earlier
Work w/ Dr. Antón in some capacity (e.g. as a student /TA in a class she teaches or or as an independent study student.

At the end of T-3, the research partnership will be evaluated to determine if it is productive and feasible to continue.

Dr. Antón will not sign a "Plan of Work" a student's advisor until the student has succesfully completed both the gradute level Software Engineering and Requirements Engineering courses.

1. Completion of a 4-page "Thesis Topic Selection Proposal" comprised of the following sections:

A.  Thesis Statement
B.  Motivation Statement (why it is worthy of research)
C.  Theoretical underpinnings for research (more important for PhD)
D.  Significant prior research (demonstrate lack of prior solution)
E.  Proposed research approach or methodology (alternatives)
F.  Potential contributions of research and importance of each
2. When Dr. Antón approves the 4-page proposal because she and the student agree the topic is research-worthy, the student will expand the proposal into a 10-page "Thesis Topic Selection Paper."

3. Student and Dr. Antón collaboratively choose appropriate committee members and schedule a meeting with entire committee to explain research plan to thesis committee members. This meeting serves to identify student and committee members' mutual expectations, and prevent last minute surprises.

4. Complete good draft of background & related work chapter for thesis.

1. Complete all research activities (project completed, but thesis not yet written).

2. Write one high quality publishable paper w/ Dr. Antón and submit to a mutually agreed upon conference or journal. This paper will serve as the basis for the thesis.

3. Complete detailed outline of all thesis chapters. Submit detailed outline to Dr. Antón for review and approval no later than dead week.

1. Write thesis according to approved outline and submit to Dr. Antón in its entirety a minimum of 3 weeks before the defense date. A poorly written thesis (e.g. poor grammar) that is in need of major editing shall be returned to the student and the defense date will be postponed accordingly.

2. Once Dr. Antón has approved the thesis, student shall submit it to the remaining thesis committee members (at least one week prior the defense date).

3. Defend thesis.

4. Revise thesis and obtain final approval from NCSU thesis editor.

© 2003-2007 A.I. Antón

Updated: 2.25.07...