Senior Thesis

Molecular Biology graduates cite the senior thesis as one of their most rewarding experiences at Princeton. The senior thesis builds on the skills learned in the junior year, as students apply them in the context of their own research project. In Molecular Biology, there are two basic formats: an experimental, laboratory-based thesis and a non laboratory-based thesis. Each is the culmination of original research conducted by the student with the guidance of a member of the Molecular Biology faculty or associated faculty. Students also gain expertise in scientific communication through oral presentations and poster sessions. A large number of students generate original findings that are eventually incorporated into peer-reviewed scientific articles.

  • Experimental (laboratory) thesis research
    You will work both independently, and under supervision, to plan and conduct experiments to advance scientific knowledge, with due attention to proper controls. You will be expected to analyze and interpret critically the results of experiments, to use the conclusions of individual experiments to plan and revise subsequent experiments and to integrate your knowledge from all sources. Students who choose a laboratory thesis have the opportunity to participate in a 9-week summer research program after their junior year.
  • Non-laboratory thesis research
    You will work independently to carry out question-driven research culminating in an original, critical analysis of a topic directly related to molecular biology. Methods may include collection and meta-analysis of data. The non-laboratory thesis is not a literature review.

Each thesis is read and graded by the student's adviser and two other faculty members. In addition to submitting the thesis document, students are required to present their work to the two non-adviser thesis readers in a 30-minute oral exam. The adviser and readers use a grading rubric for each component. 

Guidelines for preparing and submitting the thesis, important dates, and additional information and advice can be found in the Guide to Independent Work.

Class of 2017 thesis due date is April 28, 2017.

If you need an extension, you must contact Professor Liz Gavis.

Extensions beyond the University’s submission deadline (May 8) can only be granted by your college Dean with the approval of the Undergraduate Studies Committee. Any extensions past the Dean’s date (May 16) must be approved by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students.

Copies of senior theses from 2001 to the present are housed at Mudd Library


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