Thesis Process

This webpage is currently used to help students navigate the immense work required to produce a thesis. If students wish to pursue this option, the student must elicit sponsorship from a faculty member to become their Thesis Advisor.

Students may brainstorm ideas with MCS Faculty Advisors but they are not required to be Thesis Advisors. It is highly recommended that students complete the MCS Honors in the Major program if they wish to pursue a thesis.


Step 1: Hypothesis and topic of interest

Student identifies hypothesis and topic of interest they want to explore more in-depth, maybe first consider directed reading.

Step 2: Time Commitment

Student identifies if they have the time commitment for this thesis

  • What quarters or academic year work best?
  • Understand corresponding deadlines
    • Will the student also enroll in a 199 independent study course?
    • Look up Stanford’s Academic Calendar for open enrollment deadlines
    • See step 5
    • Will the student be applying to any awards based on thesis ex. Firestone medal?
    • Will student be applying for funding? - See step 4
Step 3: Thesis Advisor

Student finds a faculty member to sponsor their research as Thesis Advisor (Developing a Mentor Relationship)

Faculty can be outside of MCS but the topic should relate to the MCS program (learning outcomes), will require approval through MCS Faculty Advisor

Step 4: Funding

Is funding needed?

Step 5: Independent Study course

If applicable, student enrolls in the appropriate 199 Independent Study course under the sponsored faculty

  • If approved, students can apply research and directed reading credit towards the 15 min for the Honors
  • Students cannot receive funding for research and obtain university credit, must choose one or the other
Step 6: Resources for Research
Step 7: optional additional research credit

Student may continue research for credit for thesis purposes

  • Faculty must agree to continue sponsorship
  • If approved, students can apply research and directed reading credit towards the 15 minimum for the Honors (only for students pursuing thesis)
  • Units could be applied towards university unit requirements towards graduation. Student should contact Academic Advising to verify

Check out the Honors in the Major Webpage & Research Webpage

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