CIS 4100/4110 Senior Thesis

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The goal of a Senior Thesis project (CIS 4100formerly CIS 410/4110formerly CIS 411) is to complete a major research project under the supervision of a faculty member. The duration of the project is two semesters. Senior Thesis candidates should have undertaken research prior to the Senior Thesis, and should have a clear idea of the faculty member(s) they will work with and the project they want to work on.


Senior Thesis is only open to CSCI and NETS majors. If you have multiple majors, and one of your majors is another SEAS major (e.g., Mechanical Engineering) then you are ineligible for Senior Thesis. Having a major outside of SEAS (e.g., Economics), however, does not preclude you from participating in Senior Thesis.

The Senior Thesis program is selective, and students are generally expected to have a GPA in the top 10-20% to qualify.

Senior Theses are expected to integrate the knowledge and skills from earlier course work; because of this, students are not allowed to enroll in CIS 4100formerly CIS 410 before their seventh semester.

Students who take Senior Thesis can count no more than one CIS 0099formerly CIS 099: Independent Study course towards their CIS degree requirements.

Application Process

To enroll in CIS 4100formerly CIS 410, students must develop an abstract of the proposed work, and a member of the CIS Graduate Group must certify that the work is suitable and agree to supervise the project; a second member must agree to serve as a reader.

The supervisor and reader can be anyone on this list, except for those with a role of Lecturer or Senior Lecturer.

Once an abstract, supervisor and reader are identified, a student should email this information to the CIS Undergraduate Chair to formally apply for Senior Thesis.

Applications must be received 7 days before the end of the Add period for the fall semester.


At the end of the first semester, students must submit an intermediate report. If the supervisor and reader accept it, the student can enroll in CIS 4110formerly CIS 411.

At the end of the second semester, students must describe their results in a written thesis and must present them publicly, either in a talk at Penn or in a presentation at a conference or workshop. Grades are based on the quality of the research itself (which should ideally be published or at least of publishable quality), as well as on the quality of the thesis and the oral presentation. The latter are evaluated jointly by the supervisor and the reader.