Senior Thesis Policies

Catalog Description: "Prerequisite:  BIOL 489R (or equivalent), University Advanced Standing, and instructor permission. For students who are nearing completion of a baccalaureate degree in Biology with the thesis option. Assists students who are writing a thesis based only on library research, or those who have performed laboratory/field research under BIOL 489R. Provides experience in critically analyzing published literature and, if laboratory/field research was performed, comparing research results with the scientific literature. Supervised by an appointed faculty member of the Department of Biology. Requires a technically accurate report on one's findings. Includes the opportunity to present the research results to students, faculty, and the community at a Department of Biology seminar. May be repeated once for a total of 2 credits toward graduation."


Successful completion of Senior Thesis (BIOL 499R) is recommended for all UVU biology baccalaureate students. The research is performed under the supervision of a Department of Biology full-time faculty committee consisting of a supervising faculty member and two additional committee members. The written thesis is approved by this committee.

Selection of a research project

The project should be of interest to the student, either from a personal interest or related to the student's career goals, or a project suggested by a committee member. Discussions with faculty members and/or literature readings may assist in topic selection.

Faculty supervisor and committee

Select a Biology Department full-time faculty member who has appropriate expertise to supervise the proposed research project. Select an additional two committee members to serve, along with the supervising faculty member, as an advisory and approval committee. The supervising faculty member will not admit a student into the course until the project and committee are agreed upon by all involved.

Proposal and Approval

Provide a written proposal that outlines the research project, including a clear statement of the problem to be addressed and a description of any laboratory or field activities. The supervising faculty member will provide guidelines for the proposal. The proposal should be 2-5 pages long, and contain a minimum of 3 primary literature references. It should be divided into the following sections: Background and Significance, Hypothesis or Specific Aims, Experimental Plan, and Anticipated Outcomes. Prior to the beginning of the project, the student must obtain committee approval and Institutional Review Board approval if the project involves research on human subjects . Ideally, the proposal should be developed and submitted by the conclusion of 489R. At the latest, the proposal must be submitted one week prior to the “W” deadline once enrolled in 499R.

Thesis and Defense

The format of the thesis is described in more detail here: Senior Thesis Guidelines

A written copy of the thesis should be submitted to the committee at least one week prior to the oral seminar / defense date. In addition to the written thesis, the student should prepare a brief (15-30 min) oral presentation of his/her work to give in a seminar for an audience of peers and faculty, followed by a private defense with the committee. The seminar and defense must be scheduled by the end of the 10th week of the semester and must occur prior to the end of the semester. A minimum of two committee members must approve the thesis for the student to receive a passing grade.

After obtaining committee approval signatures on the departmental thesis cover page, the thesis and cover page should be e-mailed to Cathy McIntyre ( for digital archiving at the UVU Library. The student will also complete the required permission form:


Academic credits may be earned during both the research and writing phases of the thesis project. During the research phase, students may enroll for 1 to 4 credits of Student Research (BIOL 489R). These students and those performing a solely literature-based thesis study may subsequently enroll in 1 to 2 credits of Senior Thesis (BIOL 499R). The anticipated scope of the project should determine the number of credits. The student should plan on dedicating approximately 3 hours of activity per week per credit.

General objectives and requirements:

1.     The scientific method will be used when designing and conducting the research.

2.     Information from primary scientific literature (peer-reviewed journals and reference books) will be accurately obtained and critically reviewed, both in the proposal and in the thesis.

3.     The length of the written thesis is dependent on the number of credits, type of data obtained, and guidelines provided by the supervising professor and committee.

4.     Additional and more specific requirements may be made by the faculty supervisor and committee.


Approved by UVU Biology Faculty, 02 February 2001; updated 2006, 2008, and 2017.