Guidelines for the Optional LTI MLT Thesis

LTI MLT students may optionally elect to complete a thesis. The thesis is not required for MLT students. Students who intend to apply for the PhD program should consider the MLT Thesis as one of several ways to demonstrate their research potential. (Other possibilities include innovative research in a research project or class project work. Which choice is best for a particular student should be discussed in detail with one's advisor.)

The MLT Thesis must be completed according to the following guidelines:

  1. There are two course components required for students who elect to complete the M.S. Thesis: 11-928 - Masters Thesis I (with the chosen thesis advisor, typically for 12 units, typically in the Fall of their second year) and 11-929 - Masters Thesis II in the following Spring.

  2. The MLT thesis may focus on either a significant research result or a significant implementation of a new technology. The student should work with their advisor to define an interesting but bounded thesis research project. The MLT thesis culminates in a publication-quality paper that clearly describes the work in terms of its research significance.

  3. The MLT thesis committee will be composed of a thesis advisor and two additional readers, to be chosen by the student in consultation with the advisor, during the Fall Masters Thesis I course. At least two (2) of the 3 committee members must be SCS faculty working in Language Technologies.

  4. To receive a final grade for the first semester's course, the student must have prepared a written proposal of at least five pages, describing the scientific thesis to be investigated, any relevant research already completed by the student, a comparison with related work by others, and a detailed description of the work to be done in the next semester. The proposal MUST be accepted by the committee by the end of October, or the student will not be allowed to enroll in 11-929 - Masters Thesis II!

  5. Sometime during the semester when the student enrolls in 11-929 - Masters Thesis II (typically, their final semester), the student will distribute a draft of the thesis to the committee for initial review. This should be done as early as feasible, to avoid last-minute surprises that could delay final approval of the thesis.

  6. The thesis work culminates in submission of the final version of the thesis document, followed by a public presentation of the work in an LTI seminar (or other suitable public forum). Since the defense is public, the LTI graduate program administrator must receive all the information required for a public announcement at least one week before the defense. The Masters Thesis presentation is somewhat less rigorous than a PhD thesis defense. The presentation must communicate the research work done, similar to a conference paper presentation. The committee will observe the presentation, and then decide whether the thesis and presentation were acceptable, or whether further work is required. Unlike a PhD defense, only a simple majority vote of the committee is required for approval.

  7. Although students are required to enroll in the appropriate course sequence of two Masters Thesis courses, it is not required that students finish the thesis by the end of that second semester. If a student requires more time to revise the thesis to the committee's satisfaction, and adequately present the work, an incomplete grade will be assessed in the Masters Thesis course, until such time as the work and presentation are accepted. The student will still be allowed to walk in Spring Commencement, if all other requirements for the MLT degree have been completed. Students should note that any financial support beyond the end of the semester will be on a case-by-case basis, and must be arranged in advance with the project supporting them. Students are strongly encouraged to finish the thesis work within one (1) year following the semester they enroll for the first Masters Thesis course.