Thesis Option

Information Regarding the Thesis

A Master’s degree is different from a Bachelor’s degree for at least two reasons: (a) you are expected to learn more independently than you Research is fun!may have as an undergraduate student, and (b) you will develop a Thesis over 1-2 years. This is a larger effort than any undergraduate research you may have conducted. Knowing about these differences in advance, you should be able to better plan your M.S. degree work, in consultation with your advisor.

The closure activity is an oral presentation—open to faculty, students, and guests—of the written master’s thesis. Each thesis begins with a proposal approved by the student’s master’s committee, which will determine if the thesis meets the standards of the profession.


Planning the Thesis

Begin planning your thesis early. As you take classes and learn, think first about choosing a general research topic. Read a lot of journal articles, talk to your advisor and think. The year-long sequence of BIO 502 & 503 will help you in this process, but much of it is still your responsibility. Ideally, after the first semester you should have selected a general subject and have conducted some literature review.

By the end of your second semester, you will have developed a proposal with your advisor and assembled an advisory committee. Your advisory committee must be minimally composed of three people: your advisor, another Biology Department faculty member, and a Dean’s representative (your advisor can request someone). In addition, you can include someone from off-campus with sufficient qualifications. The maximum recommended committee is five persons.


The Research Proposal

At the end of your second semester, you will present and defend your research proposal to your committee. You will also present your curriculum plan to your committee at that time for their approval. You can then begin working on your thesis.

Learn more about Research Proposal requirements >>



Plan on meeting with your advisory committee at least once each academic year to present a progress summary. Meetings may be scheduled more frequently to assist your progress.


The Manuscript

Each Master’s Thesis must include a formal, written manuscript that you write, with editing by your advisor, and an oral presentation open to faculty, students, and guests. The advisory committee reads and comments on your manuscript, and decides whether or not the project is acceptable.

Inside the UIS greenhouse

Course Credit

You must enroll in a total of eight credit hours for the Master’s Thesis course (BIO 585) as appropriate. The total credits may be accrued in increments, but you should be aware that UIS requires that graduate students be enrolled in at least one semester of Master’s Thesis credit each semester (Fall, Spring) after the first semester of enrollment in that course, until completed.

If the thesis is not completed by the time eight hours in BIO 585 is accrued in continuing enrollment, the student must enroll for one hour of audit credit in BIO 586 in each semester until the thesis is complete. Additional information and procedures for completing the master’s closure exercise are available in the Biology Graduate Student Handbook in the program office.


Current Research Ideas

UIS Biology faculty and their students are currently conducting research on the biogeochemistry of floodplain wetland restoration, chemotherapy effects on inner ear sensory cells, amphibian habitat quality, biochemical pathway genetics of clavulinic acid synthesis, oak hybridization, seed bank diversity, hazardous waste sites, microbial genetics, and intracellular symbionts. See individual faculty home pages for details.

A Sample of Recent Thesis Titles:

  • The effects of administration of 17 beta-estradiol or 20-hydroxyecdysone on reproduction in Drosophila melanogaster
  • Using GIS to determine depressional wetland loss in Champaign County, Illinois
  • In vitro antimicrobial activity of designed antimicrobial peptides (DAPs) against gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria
  • Signalling requirements for CD4 T lymphocytes
  • Temporary pond ecosystems: pattern analysis of the organisms present at the Bluff Springs Sand Ponds in relation to environmental variables.