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Senior Thesis

In this Section
Build Your Resume & Skills Through Relevant Research Experiences

The Department of Biology believes that you would benefit from Clarkson's Senior Thesis Program. This program provides an opportunity for you to work on a research problem with a member of the biology faculty. Such research enables you to put the skills you have been acquiring at Clarkson to work on solving a real problem. It may call upon your laboratory skills, knowledge of laboratory techniques, ability to understand scientific literature, and your ability in mathematics and statistics. You will be expected to design experiments in consultation with your faculty advisor, and to perform and evaluate the results of these experiments. You should obtain some appreciation of the nature of scientific "truth" and the uncertainty associated with biological knowledge. Finally, you must prepare a first draft of your thesis describing the results of your research. This will be read by your advisor who may suggest changes. This will lead to a final version of the thesis, a copy of which will be kept on file in the department office. You will be expected to present the results of your research to biology faculty and students at the annual Clarkson Symposium for Undergraduate Research in the spring.

The senior thesis can be a valuable experience. It will give you some appreciation of what biological research involves and illustrate how various skills can be used to solve real problems. Many of our former students have indicated they considered senior thesis to be the most valuable part of their Clarkson experience. Before you decide on a topic and an advisor, you should talk to appropriate faculty members. If you select Senior Thesis you will be expected to register for BY491 (6 credits in the fall semester) and BY492 (6 credits in the spring semester). If the research project is longer in duration, it is possible to register for BY491 for 3 or 4 consecutive semesters (total of 12 credits).

Senior Thesis Regulations
All sophomore and junior biology majors will be considered for senior thesis at the first departmental meeting in the spring semester at which time the senior thesis director will provide cumulative averages and other relevant information. The faculty will decide which students are eligible for senior thesis. Generally, this will include students who have maintained a GPA of 3.0 or above.

Each faculty member who is interested in working with a senior thesis student shall provide up to three project titles and a brief (1-2 paragraphs) written description of each project. Prior to the above-mentioned departmental meeting, these titles and descriptions will be solicited by the senior thesis director.

The senior thesis director will inform all students of their eligibility for senior thesis and schedule a meeting with those interested students at least three weeks before fall pre-registration. At this meeting, students will be given orientation regarding the thesis option and a list of possible thesis projects and advisors. Students will be asked to discuss specific projects with the thesis advisors, and obtain the advisors signature.

After talking to the thesis advisors, students will be asked to select a first, second, and third choice of thesis project, preferably with more than one thesis advisor. The choices and signatures mentioned above must be returned to the senior thesis director two weeks prior to the beginning of fall pre-registration.

The senior thesis director will talk to each faculty member who has been selected as a possible thesis advisor to ensure the faculty member is willing to accept the student(s). Under normal circumstances, no faculty member will be permitted to have more than two senior thesis students.

The senior thesis program director will notify the undergraduate advisor, the students and the faculty members of which student(s) will be participating in the senior thesis option.

All students registered for thesis will receive the grade of P (Pass) at the end of the first semester. This grade must be changed to a letter grade by the end of the final semester. Final grades must be turned in on time. In general, incomplete grades cannot be used to give a student more time to complete the thesis.

The final copy of the thesis signed by the thesis advisor is due by noon of the first day of the final examination period (in December or May). Two copies of the thesis must be submitted: one to the departmental office and one to the advisor. Thesis students will be reminded by the thesis program director and their advisors of the due date at least five weeks before the deadline. It is expected that the thesis advisor will examine and make comments on one or more preliminary drafts of the thesis before the final copy is submitted.

All students who work on senior thesis will be expected to present their results at the Clarkson Symposium for Undergraduate Research in the spring of their senior year.

Format for Senior Thesis
A template showing the correct form and organization of the thesis will be provided. The abstract shall be no more than one page in length. The approval of the physical form of the thesis shall be indicated by the signature of the thesis advisor, Department Chairman, or Executive Officer on the title page.

The thesis shall contain the following sections (in the order listed):

  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Appendix (if needed)

The format of the thesis should follow the guidelines described below:

  • Paper shall be 81/2 x 11 inch.
  • The font shall be 12 point Times Roman and in black ink.
  • Line spacing shall be 1.5 spaces (figure legends may be single spaced). Only one side of the paper shall be used.
  • The left margin should be set for 1 1/4 inches and the top, bottom, and right margins should be 1 inch wide.
  • All pages of the thesis shall be collated and numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals.
  • All figures should be numbered and include legends.
  • The copies of the thesis will be presented in pressure binders (no holes).

Sample Format



A Thesis

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of
Bachelor of Science in Biology

Date / Month / Year

Approved: ________________________________ Date:_____________________