A senior thesis is an innovative body of work that makes a contribution to a specific field. Senior theses typically include 360 academic hours in which a student works with faculty and researchers to investigate cutting edge informatics research challenges.

If interested in pursuing a thesis, students should begin forming relationships with faculty members early. Most, if not all faculty, will not take on a student for a thesis if there is not an established history and rapport between the faculty member and the student.

Students who are interested in a senior thesis are encouraged to:

  • Think about classes they enjoyed and the faculty or guest speakers who taught those classes.
  • Consider what they are interested in researching. Was there a particular class or something in technology that they read about that is of interest?
  • Investigate faculty research areas to gain a better understanding of what research faculty do in the department.
    • Checkout the Faculty Research Areas
    • Note - most faculty will only advise theses in areas that they are familiar with.
  • Talk to faculty about their research.
    • Students may approach faculty with their own research ideas and work together to create a thesis topic that will mutually benefit both the student and faculty research initiatives.
    • Students may ask faculty if they have research projects for undergraduates that would be appropriate for theses (most faculty have potential undergraduate thesis topics).
  • Attend research talks affiliated with the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering to get a sense of research contributions.
  • Enroll and complete INFO I399 Research Methods for Undergraduates.


The Thesis

A senior thesis in informatics should:

  • Account for a minimum of 360 hours of academic work;
  • Make a contribution to a field of study;
  • Be publishable at a conference upon completion or create a product that could be released to the general public (e.g., entrepreneurship; individual projects).

Student Requirements

A senior thesis in informatics student should:

  • Find a thesis advisor that is a part of the informatics faculty to advise his/her senior thesis;
  • Communicate to the informatics faculty member that the student’s intent is to complete a senior thesis (not an independent study);
  • Identify how often the student will meet with the faculty member and/or a graduate student or postdoc in the faculty’s laboratory;
  • Develop a timeline to complete the research;
  • Submit all deliverables (written documentation and forms) on time (see relevant timetable);
    • Thesis Intent Form (reviewed by Informatics Undergraduate Director);
      • The Thesis Intent Form provides the student with the ability to receive early feedback on the thesis topic;
    • Thesis Proposal Form (reviewed by Informatics Undergraduate Committee);
    • Thesis Progress Form (reviewed by Informatics Undergraduate Committee);
    • Thesis Final Submission Form and Thesis (reviewed by Informatics Undergraduate Committee)
      • The Informatics Undergraduate Committee will review the thesis and decide if it should be publicly accessible or nominated for an Outstanding Senior Thesis Award.
  • Present work at a poster session (at an IU symposium or professional Conference);
    • If a student and advisor cannot present at a poster session, then they must
      have a public defense with two additional informatics faculty in attendance who will sign the Thesis Final Submission Form.

Faculty Requirements

Faculty members supervising students completing a senior thesis in informatics are required to:

  • Work with the student to ensure the senior thesis is (1) the correct scale for a senior thesis (requiring at least 360 hours of independent research) and (2) has the potential to make a contribution to a research field; and
  • Meet with the student regularly to discuss thesis progress. A faculty member can assign a senior graduate student or postdoctoral researcher to meet weekly with the undergraduate researcher.
    • The faculty member should still ensure there are some meetings with the faculty advisor.
    • Please be advised that advisors (faculty and associated lab members) would most likely meet with senior thesis students for 30 hours during the course of the research experience. That includes at least one hour a week during the two semesters, not including Finals Week.

Getting Approval

Senior theses and associated forms must be approved by the Informatics Undergraduate Director and the Informatics Undergraduate Studies Committee.

If a student fails to submit an appropriate form (e.g., Thesis Progress Form; Final Thesis Submission Form) or the committee deems that a student is not making sufficient progress toward the 360 hour expectation or senior thesis expectations, then a student will be notified that they are not making sufficient progress and cannot proceed with the senior thesis. The senior thesis cannot be repeated if a student has not made sufficient progress in the past.