Undergraduate Thesis

Chemistry majors are invited to prepare an Undergraduate Thesis describing the results of original research they have conducted under the supervision of a member of the MIT Department of Chemistry faculty. The undergraduate thesis is not a requirement for the S.B. degree in Chemistry, but students intending to pursue graduate work in chemistry are strongly encouraged to obtain experience doing original research as part of their preparation for graduate school.

Students preparing a thesis should enroll in course 5.THU in the semester they intend to submit their thesis (generally the spring of senior year). At least two semesters of research (summer UROP is considered to be the equivalent of a semester of research) in addition to the "5.THU semester" usually constitutes the minimum research experience that can provide the basis for a satisfactory thesis. Research toward a thesis carried out prior to 5.THU can be conducted for credit under 5.UR, 5.URG, or as "UROP for Pay." Students enrolled in 5.THU may not simultaneously enroll in 5.UR or 5.URG in the same semester and may not receive financial support that semester through the UROP program, although they may be directly employed by faculty members as research assistants.


The student's advisor will provide guidance concerning the specific style and organization appropriate for the thesis. In general, the style should be appropriate for a full journal article in the student's particular area of chemistry. In most cases the thesis will include sections entitled "Introduction and Background," "Results and Discussion," and an Experimental Section. Literature citations should follow the format required by typical journals in the specific area of research.

The thesis should be double-spaced and typically will be 25 to 50 pages in length—under no circumstances should the length exceed 100 pages. The thesis should begin with a Title Page followed by a one-page Abstract, both conforming to the format described in the publication "Specifications for Thesis Preparation" prepared by the MIT Libraries Archives Department (14N-118). A Table of Contents should also be included in the thesis.


Students completing a thesis in Fall term must submit their thesis no later than Friday, January 18, 2019. Students completing a thesis in the Spring term must submit their thesis no later than Friday, May 10, 2019. One copy of the thesis should be submitted to your Research Supervisor, and two printed copies and a pdf file for the Department of Chemistry should be submitted to the Chemistry Education Office (6-205). If you would like to have a personal, bound copy of your thesis please submit a total of three printed copies to the Chemistry Education Office.


The student's Research Supervisor will read the thesis and determine the letter grade the student will receive for course 5.THU. In general, students should enroll in 5.THU for 6 to 21 units. An Undergraduate Research Symposium is held each spring and all students completing theses are encouraged to make an oral presentation at the symposium. Information about the Undergraduate Research Symposium will be posted on the Department of Chemistry website by Professor Alex Radosevich, the Symposium Coordinator.