Thesis Track Overview
In addition to the core courses, students on the thesis track will perform five quarters (Q2-Q6) of independent research in a select laboratory under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Students may opt to continue research for an additional quarter in the summer through TGS_512. A list of research courses and information on the track's final deliverables — a written thesis and oral defense — are included below.
Students on the thesis track have the opportunity to pursue their research in laboratories that study a wide array of topics in reproductive science and medicine, including: fertility preservation, reproductive aging, infectious disease, endometriosis, fibroids, reproductive tract cancers, breast cancer, maternal-fetal medicine, polycystic ovarian syndrome, reproductive endocrinology and assisted reproduction.
Students on this track may also pursue a concentration in either Fertility Preservations or Assisted Reproductive Technologies. See our Concentrations page for more details.
The following is the expected schedule of courses once a student joins a research laboratory.
EXPLORE ADDITIONAL ELECTIVES AT NORTHWESTERN
Research in Reproductive Science & Medicine
REPR_SCI 595; winter, spring, fall (must take during all three quarters)
Students will join a research laboratory and develop an independent research project in collaboration with their research mentor. Students will become integrated members of their laboratory or research group and commit a minimum of 20 hours per week to research. Research mentors will evaluate student research commitment and progress and assign the grade for the course.
Thesis Research/Final Winter Quarter Thesis Writing
REPR_SCI 591; winter (must take during the final quarter)
Students completing the MS-RSM thesis track register for REPR_SCI 591 during quarter 6 of the program to earn credit while completing the thesis. During this course, students will prepare a written thesis describing their research project, including the research question/hypothesis, rationale and significance, a literature review, experimental approach, data and results and future directions. Formatting instructions and document guidelines are provided by the program. Students present their thesis findings and conclusions during their quarter 6 thesis defense committee meeting. Students must complete at least three units of REPR_SCI 595 prior to enrolling in REPR_SCI 591. Students may enroll in one, two or three units of REPR_SCI 591.
During the summer quarter, students will enroll in TGS 512. During this time, they will spend 40 hours per week dedicated to performing research related to their thesis project.
Selecting a Thesis Research Lab & Committee
During the first fall quarter, students will take part in an open house networking event where faculty members with openings in their laboratories will present their research to new students. The students will also have a chance to interact with the broader Center for Reproductive Science community.
Students confirm research mentor selections in November of quarter 1 and begin research at the beginning of quarter 2. Upon choosing a research laboratory, the student will form a thesis committee with the assistance of their research mentor and program leadership. The committee will consist of the research mentor and two additional faculty.
Students are required to meet with their committees during quarter 3 to present their thesis proposal and in quarter 6 to defend their thesis. The students will submit an interim written progress report to their thesis committee members in quarter 5. Students may meet with individual committee members and may hold additional committee meetings as necessary for their projects.
Thesis Preparation & Defense
To earn a Master of Science degree in Reproductive Science & Medicine, the final deliverable for thesis track students is a written thesis and oral thesis defense. Students will prepare a written thesis describing their research project, including the research question/hypothesis, rationale and importance, a literature review, experimental approach, results, conclusions, and future directions. The thesis is formatted as a scientific manuscript. The completed thesis is submitted to the thesis committee for review and presented in a 1 hour defense. The committee will make a final recommendation for the Master of Science degree.
Throughout their time in the program, students are also expected to present their research to the reproductive science community through local and regional meetings such as Reproductive Research Updates and the Reproductive Science and Medicine Summit. However, these presentations are not considered for a final grade.
Although it is not a formal requirement of the program, many of our current students and program graduates publish peer-reviewed papers, articles, book chapters, reviews and other scholarly works.