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Independent Work & Theses

Welcome to the Computer Science Independent Work webpage.

The goal of undergraduate research and independent work (IW) in Computer Science is to serve as an independent or synthesizing experience in which undergraduates work on significant research or design projects.  Given the broad diversity of intellectual problems in Computer Science, and equally broad possibilities regarding future career trajectories, the style of project can vary from theoretical to systems or applications-oriented with output ranging from scholarly publications to working software or hardware.  

For tailored information about IW options, please select one of the following:





For tailored information about IW requirements, please select one of the following:



Have a specific question about IW or thesis? Check out our FAQ page!


For BSE students majoring in Computer Science, independent work can either be taken as 1 semester course, or as a 2 semester thesis option if preferred.  For AB students majoring in Comptuer Science, independent work consists of 4 semesters of work in their junior and senior years.  

Note: Independent Work Seminars are available to first time IW students.  The motivation is to allow students and a faculty adviser with shared interests to meet as a group and work on related projects.  All students who plan to do independent work for the first time are strongly encouraged to sign up for an IW seminar.  Specifically, this includes all A.B. juniors and all BSE students signed up for COS 397/8 or 497/8 for the first time.  Though the seminars are targeted at first-time independent work students, they are open to any Computer Science major who is not working on a senior thesis. The content of the IW seminars include not only independent work on a project, but also guidance about how to choose projects, evaluate progress, design experiments, collaborate with others, make presentations, and other project management skills.  These skills are essential for becoming an effective researcher, and provide great training for working in a company or startup.  Thus, the seminars are perfectly suited for students doing their first semester of independent work.

If you have already done a previous semester of independent work or want to work on a project outside the scope of the topics offered in any of the IW seminars, then you can make arrangements with a Princeton faculty to advise you individually.   For instructions about how to select an IW seminar or adviser, see the first section of the Important Steps and Deadlines. 

Questions should be addressed to Mikki Hornstein, the undergraduate independent work administrator, mhornstein (@princeton.edu)  

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