Biology: Toolkit

Prework BIOS E-497 Crafting the Thesis Proposal (CTP) Tutorial in Biology

Research Advisor (RA): Dr. James Morris

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Morris via online services.

Who takes the CTP tutorial and when?
This tutorial is mandatory for all ALM candidates in the field of Biology, who have completed at least 32 credits, including statistics, and are fully prepared to begin the thesis process—moving straight from the CTP tutorial to thesis registration with no extended breaks. Consider your life, work, and academic schedule. Also consider your five-year deadline.

What is the CTP tutorial?
The tutorial helps you develop an academically strong thesis proposal. During the semester, you’ll map critical issues of project design such as scope, background, methodology, and expected outcomes. The tutorial is not a course, in the traditional sense. It is structured one-on-one advising with your RA.  You’ll participate in 15- to 30-minute individual appointments (by phone, video-conference, or in-person), ordinarily between 9-5 to discuss your topic, proposal design, and writing progress. In addition, you'll submit multiple thesis proposal drafts.  Please note that potential thesis directors usually request further edits to the proposal prior to acceptance.


  • JUNE 1 for fall CTP registration
  • NOVEMBER 1 for spring CTP registration

Because scientific research is dependent upon laboratory space, project funding, and access to private databases, the thesis proposal is crafted AFTER a lab and thesis director are identified, but BEFORE you officially begin work on the thesis.  

Please put together a two to three page document addressing the following questions:
  1. Identify, with the help of Dr. Morris, a lab where you will do the research.  This step needs to be done well before the June 1 or November 1 deadlines. Schedule a meeting with Dr. Morris ASAP.
  2. Once the lab and thesis director are identified and approved, send a brief document (one page) listing the approved lab, approved thesis director, and a detailed outline of the proposed research project to by the above deadlines. 
  3. Be sure to put  “BIOS 497 CTP prework” in the subject line and include your full name, along with your Harvard ID in the document.

REGISTRATION ALERT!   Prework is required to demonstrate your readiness to register for the CTP. You will not be able to register for the CTP until your prework is received and approved by your research advisor.

ADVISING TIP: The earlier you are able to start the process of determining a lab to work in, the better! 

LAB PLACEMENT POLICY: If you are a Harvard lab employee who is currently working in a Harvard laboratory and want to do your thesis research there, the faculty member of the lab could serve as your thesis director.

If you are a lab employee who is currently working in a non-Harvard laboratory and want to do your thesis research there, you'll need a Harvard faculty member to serve as a co-director. The non-Harvard lab supervisor could serve as one co-director and Dr. Morris will help you identify a Harvard faculty member who can serve as the other co-director.