M.Sc. Thesis Option

To successfully complete a master’s degree with thesis, all master’s thesis students must complete the thesis application and the thesis defense. Individual programs may have additional program requirements that must be met to graduate, please see division/program requirements for further details.

M.Sc. Thesis Application

Students pursuing the thesis option should have at least a 3.2 cumulative GPA. All thesis applications require approval of the program chair. Applications for thesis are still required for programs that only offer an M.Sc. thesis. 

Students will be expected to complete their thesis by the end of the fourth semester (not including summer session). Students who require additional time to complete their thesis will be required to apply for an extension (see Time Limits and Extensions. The selected academic advisor must be a full-time program-affiliated assistant, associate or full professor at KAUST. This advisor can only become project affiliated for the specific thesis project with program chair approval.

The application for thesis should include a well-constructed thesis proposal endorsed by the academic advisor, including a time line for completion not to exceed four semesters. The program of study should be structured to allow students to change to a master’s without thesis and finish the degree by the end of the fourth semester. Thesis applications should be submitted by the last day to drop with a W to be reflected in the current academic semester.

Students who withdraw from the thesis option will be required to complete a thesis withdrawal form. Students who withdraw from the thesis option after the last day to drop will receive a W on their official record.

M.Sc. Thesis Defense Committee

The thesis defense committee, which must be approved by the dean, must consist of at least three members and typically includes no more than four members. At least two of the required members must be affiliated with students program of study. Please see individual programs for thesis defense committee requirements.

M.Sc. Thesis Defense Requirements

A thesis oral defense is required, although a public presentation and all other details are left to the discretion of the thesis committee. Students are responsible for scheduling the thesis defense date with their thesis committee. All committee members are required to attend the defense. 

A written thesis is required. It is advisable that students submit their final thesis to the thesis committee members no later than two weeks prior to the defense date. Students are required to comply with the University formatting guidelines provided by the Office of the Registrar.

There are four possible outcomes for this thesis defense:

  • Pass
  • Pass with conditions
  • Retake
  • Fail without retake

A pass is achieved when the committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote. In the instance of a pass with conditions, the entire committee must agree on the required conditions and if they cannot, the dean decides. The deadline to complete the conditions is one month after the defense date, unless the committee unanimously agrees to change it. If the conditions will take more than one month, or more than one member casts a negative vote, one retake of the defense is permitted. The deadline to complete the retake is decided by the defense committee with a maximum of six months after the defense date, unless the committee unanimously agrees to reduce it. In the instance of a fail without retake, the decision of the committee must be unanimous. Students who fail without retake or who fail the retake will be dismissed from the University.

The final signed approval form must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar by the deadline for M.Sc. thesis library receipt forms as indicated on the Academic Calendar. Failure to submit by the deadline will result in students being graduated the following semester.