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Master’s Thesis Proposal Guidelines

The Master's proposal should be a four to eight page (double-spaced) original research proposal on a current topic in microbiology, immunology and/or molecular genetics. Design the experiments with appropriate controls, and succinctly present them along with the interpretation of possible results. The studies proposed should involve no more effort than could be accomplished by one graduate student in two years. Be specific about the problem. The proposal is not a literature survey or review. The following format should be used:

Specific Aim:

One to five sentences stating the goal of the research project. This should answer the question: What is the goal of this proposal? For example: The aim of this proposal is to determine the effect on subcellular localization of the substitution of charged amino acids for hydrophobic amino acids in the signal peptide of the influenzae hemagglutinin protein.


A one-half page statement as to the potential medical or scientific impact of this project (i.e., the nature of the contribution and the fields affected).


Succinctly review current literature relevent to the proposal. There is no need to restate well established principles of microbiology. Just give the background which would be required for a working microbiologist to understand and become up-to-date in the area of the proposal.

Outline of Proposal:

This should be one to two pages describing the strategy of the proposed experiments. Various possible results should be discussed and how they would be interpreted to achieve the specific aim.


Briefly discuss the methods to be used in the experiments, with adequate description so any reasonably competent scientist can understand. This section should usually refer principally to published procedures and can be quite short. If new methods must be developed or old methods must be modified, this section may have to be longer.


Literature cited. This must use the ASM publication format--see J. Bact. or J. Virol., etc., for examples. No page limitation. This section can also be used for footnotes if the student feels that some parts of the proposal require more extensive exploration than can be accommodated in the limitation of the previous sections.