Plan Your Senior Thesis

Step 1

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Begin exploring potential topics in your sophomore or junior year.

Step 2

Take a research methods class or equivalent preparatory class in your discipline during your sophomore or junior year—either in your major or where you study abroad.

This is separate from the yearlong course you complete senior year.

Step 3

Choose an adviser by the end of spring semester junior year and submit to your department a letter of intent to write a thesis.

Step 4

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Submit a proposal second semester junior year to fund research trips, document retrieval, purchase of equipment/materials, and the like for the summer between junior and senior year.

You can apply for grants from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal ArtsKellogg Institute for International StudiesKeough-Naughton Institute for Irish StudiesLiu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, and Nanovic Institute for European Studies.

Step 5

Enroll in a yearlong course that starts the fall of your senior year. The format will vary depending upon the form of presentation and the finished product. Each semester of the course also typically encompasses different phases of the process.

In fall, students often:

Econ Poster Presentation

  • collect data or identify a secondary data set,
  • attend library colloquia,
  • revise and share proposals in small groups,
  • conduct a thorough review of the literature,
  • write an annotated bibliography,
  • submit a progress report (i.e., your understanding of the project, a plan for research and writing in the next semester, and a tentative outline), and
  • submit an opening chapter.

In spring, students often:

  • submit, by January, a first draft or present a creative work in progress for faculty review,
  • continue with analyses,
  • share drafts in progress, and
  • focus on content and style.

Step 6

Complete your senior thesis project by the College’s common deadline in March.