Students in computer science may write a Bx (BA/BS) thesis to complete a major elective (CMSC 29900) and/or as part of their requirements for Computer Science Honors.


The Bx thesis, generally written in the fourth year, should be a substantial research paper. The project should be pursued largely independently, with faculty guidance and input. The thesis should demonstrate competence and scholarship in the chosen area, displaying the ability to understand and synthesize a wide range of readings (beyond material assigned in standard coursework).

Unlike an MA or PhD thesis, however, the Bx thesis need not be primarily an original research project, but rather can report on sufficiently advanced literature and present the student’s personal understanding and evaluation of this literature. The thesis should aim to present some original research, built on the readings, conducted by the student in consultation with a faculty member.

While students may choose to build software as part of their Bx thesis work, software is not a replacement for the required paper.


Bx – Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS)

Bx Thesis Program Director – faculty member who oversees the Bx thesis program for the academic year (currently Blase Ur)

Bx Thesis Advisor – faculty member who oversees a student’s work on their Bx thesis

Bx Thesis Reader – faculty member other than the student’s Bx thesis advisor who commits to reading and recommending the thesis for acceptance or rejection

Graduation Quarter (a.k.a. Quarter 3) – the quarter in which a student intends to graduate

Quarter 1 – two quarters prior to the graduation quarter (i.e. Autumn for students who are graduating in Spring, Spring for students graduating in Winter, and Winter for students who are graduating in the Autumn)

Quarter 2 – one quarter prior to the graduation quarter (i.e. Winter for students who are graduating in Spring, Autumn for students graduating in the Winter, and Spring for students who are graduating in the Autumn)


Below are the expected milestones for completing a Bx thesis. Deadlines are at the end of the weeks indicated. Each deadline is the latest time for completing a milestone. To ensure successful completion of a thesis, students are encouraged to complete milestones earlier when possible.

Quarter 1: 1st week

– The student should identify a potential thesis advisor and thesis topic.

Quarter 1: 8th week

– The student must submit a short (2-3 page) thesis proposal, using this proposal form, to their thesis advisor.
– The thesis advisor must approve the proposal.

Quarter 1: 9th week

– The student must submit their advisor-approved proposal to the Bx thesis program director.

Quarter 2: 1st week

– The program director will accept, reject, or suggest changes to the proposal.

Quarter 2: 9th week

– The student, in consultation with their thesis advisor, must identify a second faculty member to serve as their Bx thesis reader.

Quarter 3: 5th week

– The student must submit a completed Bx thesis to their advisor and to their reader.

Quarter 3: 7th week

– The thesis advisor and reader must approve the thesis, using this approval form (coming soon).
– The advisor must also write a letter recommending the thesis for acceptance.
– The reader may write their own letter or simply concur with the thesis advisor’s letter in writing.
– The approval form, letters, and completed thesis must be submitted to the Bx thesis program director.

Other Policies

A student who is completing a Bx thesis in computer science may choose to enroll in CMSC 29900 in their graduation quarter, but they are not required to do so.

Students may not receive compensation for research they complete as part of their work for CMSC 29900.

A faculty member in another department may supervise the Bx thesis upon approval of the Bx Thesis Program Director. A student should ask permission from the director before contacting the outside faculty member.

The Computer Science department may accept a thesis used to meet the Bx requirement in another major if the Bx Thesis Program Director deems the thesis to have sufficient computer science content. Students should consult with the relevant parties in both departments by the earliest Bx proposal deadline (or by the end of their third year, if the other program does not state a deadline). A consent form, to be signed by both departmental advisors, is available from the College adviser; it must be completed and returned to the College adviser by the end of Autumn Quarter of the student’s year of graduation.

(Note: Some of the language for this policy is adapted from the Linguistics Department’s guide for BA papers.)