The Master of Science - Thesis program is intended for students interested in careers in industry, the public sector, and academia. It provides a short-term research experience leading to the preparation and defense of a research-based thesis.

In order to enroll in the MS Thesis program, you must first secure a thesis advisor. You should consult with your thesis and graduate advisors for course selection recommendations. As a student in the MS Thesis program, you can enroll in any combination of Robotics graduate courses.

MS Thesis students must complete the following requirements to obtain the MS degree:

  • MS Professional (Non-Thesis) Degree Requirements. Students must fulfill all of the non-thesis MS Degree requirements.
  • MS Thesis. 6 credits of MS thesis hours (ROBO 6xxx) must be completed, typically in the final two semesters of the program. Students are not able to register for MS thesis credits on their own and should submit a request for thesis hours through the Thesis/Dissertation Hours Enrollment Request Form.
  • Thesis Advisor Selection. Upon finding a research advisor, you must complete the MS Thesis Research Expectations Form. This form should be completed no later than the end of the first semester of enrollment in the MS Thesis program.
  • Written Thesis. The written thesis must comply with Graduate School rules and procedures in terms of format and submission. Review full details on formatting requirements. Deadlines and resources to assist in finalizing your thesis are available here. Students are required to submit the full written thesis electronically at the ProQuest website. The timeline for these requirements is as follows:
    • The oral thesis defense must be passed about 2/3 into the last semester.
    • One week after the defense deadline, students must submit:
      • The written thesis, electronically; and
      • The physical signature page, signed by all committee members, to the Graduate School.
      • Submit both of these items on the Thesis Approval Form website.
  • Thesis Defense. You must pass a thesis defense, which is a final examination on the thesis and related topics. In the defense, you are expected to explain your research clearly and concisely, and to discuss how it relates to other research in the field. This is an opportunity for recognition of completed MS Thesis research. It is also an opportunity for discussion and formal evaluation of the thesis.

Defending Your Thesis

The thesis defense may occur before or after the final electronic submission of the written thesis to the Graduate School, but must take place prior to the end of your final semester. Failure to defend prior to the end of the proposed final semester may result in the need to register for additional course credits during another semester. All required forms should be submitted on time according to the following deadlines:

  • To the Department: The Master’s Examination Report should be submitted to your graduate advisor at least 3 weeks prior to the defense.
  • To the Committee: The written thesis should be sent as a single pdf file by email to all members of the defense committee, as well as to the graduate advisors at, at least one week before the defense. This deadline is intended to allow the defense committee sufficient time to review the thesis and to formulate questions and feedback. Prior to the defense, you should contact all members of the committee to assess their areas of interest and concerns. This will help you anticipate any questions that will be asked.
  • You must be registered as full time, regular degree-seeking student during the semester in which you pass the examination. The examination is conducted by a committee appointed by the thesis advisor and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School, and consists of at least three people, two of which must be ROBO faculty.
  • The chair of the committee must have a regular or tenured Graduate Faculty appointment. The other committee members must have either regular or special Graduate Faculty appointments. Please contact the graduate advisors at as soon as you form your committee, and no later than 6 weeks prior to your examination, to verify that the necessary appointments are in place. It takes 2-4 weeks to process a faculty appointment. You should submit a recent CV for any committee member who does not have a faculty appointment to the graduate advisors as soon as possible.
  • You should coordinate scheduling the examination with the committee, and should schedule the examination for one hour and a half. The examination is wholly oral and open to the public for the first portion of the examination. You must prepare a professional oral presentation that covers what was written in the thesis. This presentation should be 45 minutes in length. This presentation shall be delivered at the final examination to the examination committee. The oral presentation portion of the examination is open to all students and faculty. Questions are entertained at the end of the presentation. The final part of the examination is closed to only the student and the examination committee. During this portion, questions are entertained that cover the field of concentration and related fields. More than one dissenting vote among the committee constitutes an unsatisfactory exam. A student who fails the exam may attempt it once more after a period of time determined by the committee.

Transfer Credit

You may be eligible to transfer up to 9 hours of coursework to meet Master’s degree course requirements. More information is available on the Request for Transfer of Credit Form from the CU Graduate School. To transfer credits, you must fill out and submit this form to the Graduate School via DocuSign.

Please note that requests for transfer credit can only be made after completing 6 credits of graduate level coursework at CU Boulder. These requests should be submitted as soon after completion of this 6 credit requirement as possible. Typically, this means that transfer of credit requests are processed during the second semester of study at CU Boulder.