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Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies  

Thesis and Senior Project Guidelines

Although many senior concentrators in AFVS do a thesis or a senior project, it is not a requirement, nor is it necessary to be recommended for an honors degree from the department. All senior theses or projects are designated with the course number AFVS 99A for the first part and AFVS 99B for the second part.  The thesis is ordinarily a two-semester project, but a Senior Project can be a one-semester undertaking. 

Joint concentrators whose primary concentration is not AFVS will enroll in AFVS 91R, and in the 99 of their primary concentration. They may have an adviser in both concentrations.

Academic Requirements

A thesis or senior project is a serious commitment and is the capstone experience in the department.  During this two semester project, the student meets at scheduled intervals with his or her thesis or senior project adviser to formulate, develop, and ultimately refine their thesis work.  Scheduled into the department calendar are series of dates to serve as checks on the progression of thesis work, which are explained below.

  • A thesis in film must represent the third year of work in film production. 
  • A thesis in video must represent the third year of work in film and/or video.
  • Studio thesis proposals should include a link to a portfolio of images of current and past work.

All theses in studio and film/video should also be preceded by a related historical or theoretical course.

Applying for a Thesis

All thesis and senior project proposals must be reviewed by the Honors Board before the project can go forward. Students ordinarily apply to do a thesis or senior project in the term before the work begins.

Sometimes project proposals will shift significantly from the time of initial application or the Honors Board will recommend that the proposal be re-written. In these cases, students should submit a revised proposal at the start of the following term.

Students should not enroll in AFVS 99 before work or revised work is approved by the Honors Board. The Director of Undergraduate Studies is the course head and approves the tutorial in students’ Crimson Carts, for all AFVS tutorials, not the project adviser.

Any student who is unsure about applying for a thesis or senior project, or whether or not they have met department requirements to do a thesis, should set up an appointment with their concentration adviser, Director of Undergraduate Studies, or the Manager of Academic Programs.

Finding an AFVS 99 Advisor

A student must find their own project adviser, and ordinarily that is a full-time faculty member in the Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies. Graduate students and faculty from other departments ordinarily do not serve as AFVS 99 advisers. Sometimes a project adviser will be a visiting faculty member who is not in residence until the following academic year. In this case, the student should apply by the designated due date and the project would not receive final approval until the visiting faculty member is able to meet to discuss the proposal.

In general, AFVS students should conceive their theses in conjunction with AFVS faculty, and with the idea of working with the department’s own faculty members as principal advisers. In the unusual circumstance that the appropriate AFVS adviser will be on leave during the thesis year or some part thereof, that AFVS faculty member should be consulted, in advance of the submission of the application, on which other colleague(s) might serve in their stead. Normally, only in cases where the AFVS faculty adviser strongly urges that a faculty member outside of the department supervise the thesis would the Honors Board agree to this arrangement.

An AFVS thesis has three readers also known as committee members, assigned.  One reader is also the AFVS 99 adviser; and two other faculty members are assigned by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.  Unlike in many other concentrations, in AFVS the readers are known to students before the thesis is completed.  In fact, in studio and film/video theses, readers play an important role during the thesis review process.  Senior projects do not have readers. 

The AFVS 99 tutorial is given a letter grade by the adviser whether it is a thesis or a senior project. This grade appears on the student’s transcript. If the AFVS 99 tutorial is to be a thesis, in addition to the tutorial grade given by the adviser, the thesis work receives a Latin honors grade by the three readers (summa, magna, cum, and plus/minus versions thereof).* As with traditional letter grades, the Latin honors grades have numerical equivalents and the three reader grades are averaged together to determine a final thesis grade. The thesis grade does not appear on the student’s transcript as a separate course, however, this grade is averaged into the final department grade point average, and it is counted as two half-courses, since it is work done over two terms.

* If the thesis is not considered honors-level work, it is given a non-honors letter grade (B- and below).

In sum, if a student does a senior project they will receive a letter grade for the AFVS 99 tutorial. This ordinarily counts as two half-courses toward the department GPA. If a student does a thesis, they will receive a letter grade for the AFVS 99 tutorial (which will count as two courses toward the GPA) and they will receive another grade for the thesis, which does not appear on the transcript but will count as an additional two courses toward the department GPA. 

Grade Report

At the end of each term, fall and spring, the student’s progress in the Senior Tutorial (AFVS 99) is graded and the adviser may write a brief progress report of the tutorial to date. Since AFVS 99 is ordinarily considered a full course, the final grade will count twice toward the student’s grade point average.

Reader Reports

Each of the three thesis readers assigns a Latin grade and writes a report on the thesis work. As explained previously, the three grades are averaged together to form one final thesis grade. Students receive copies of the reader reports after the department’s degree meeting.

All AFVS concentrators are eligible to be recommended for an honors degree. The AFVS Honors Board calculates a recommendation for honors based on the factored grades of the thesis and the student’s grades in all concentration courses. This recommendation is presented to the faculty at their meeting in May for review (or January for March degree candidates). A faculty vote is taken and this decision is passed as an honors recommendation to the Registrar of the College. The decision of final honors to be granted on the degree is made by the Registrar based on departmental recommendation and grades overall. Students can consult with their Allston Burr Resident Dean to determine what final honors might be anticipated at Commencement. It is Department policy that there are no reports of decisions regarding the thesis until after the Faculty has considered and voted upon each recommendation for honors. After the faculty has voted honors recommendations, students will be notified of the department’s recommendation to the College and will receive copies of their thesis evaluations.

Discontinuing a Thesis

The process of undertaking thesis work is a serious commitment of time and energy for both the thesis student and adviser. In some cases it might be necessary to discontinue the thesis mid-year. If this situation occurs, the student or adviser must indicate this in writing to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Two scenarios may result from this decision:

  • The student discontinues both the tutorial and thesis work by dropping the course. It is possible to discontinue a senior project by following these procedures as well.  Deadline to drop AFVS 99 entirely and divide with credit: February 20, 2024. 
  • Or, the student turns the thesis into a “Senior Project.” The student will continue to work with the project adviser for the rest of the year. There may or may not be a finished body of work at the end of the tutorial. The student would still remain enrolled in AFVS 99, but would not have work to submit at the thesis deadline and would not participate in any thesis reviews or have the work read/reviewed by the other readers/committee members. The adviser would then grade the AFVS 99 tutorial at its conclusion at the end of the semester. 

Financial Eligibility

All tutorials and theses are eligible for financial support by the department. The Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Manager of Finance evaluate all projects on an individual basis. Each student can request funding to support their project by filling out a Budget Request Form . These forms are due when the thesis proposal is due. If you anticipate any unique or extraordinary budget requests, you must make an appointment with the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Manager of Finance before you submit the Budget Request Form.

Senior Project vs. Thesis?

There are a few main differences between a “senior project” and a thesis but since the student enrolls in AFVS 99 in either case, there is no discernible difference on the transcript. The first difference is that a thesis must conclude with a finished body of work, submitted by the specified due date. A senior project may or may not result in a finished body of work. The due date of a senior project is sometimes the same as the thesis, but is usually the last day of classes in a semester. The due date must be worked out in advance between the adviser and the student, particularly if it involves using department equipment or materials also used by regular classes. The second main difference is that there are no readers assigned to critique and grade a senior project, therefore the project receives only a letter grade, not a Latin grade. For information about turning a thesis into a senior project, please refer to “discontinuing a thesis” above.

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Writing a senior thesis: is it worth it.


Before coming to Yale, I thought a thesis was the main argument of a paper. I quickly learned that an undergraduate thesis is about fifty times harder and fifty pages longer than any thesis arguments I wrote in high school. At Yale, every senior has some sort of senior requirement, but thesis projects vary by department. Some departments require students to do a semester-long project, where you write a longer paper (25-35 pages) or expand, through writing, the research you’ve been working on (mostly applies to STEM majors). In some departments you can take two senior seminars and complete a longer project at the end of the semester. And other departments have an option to complete a year-long thesis: you spend your senior year (and in some cases your junior year), intensely researching and writing about a topic you choose or create yourself.

Both my departments––English and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration––offer all three of these options, and each student decides what they think is best for them. As a double major, I had the additional option to write an even longer thesis combining both my majors, but that seemed like way too much work––especially since I would have to take two senior thesis classes at the same time. Instead, I chose a year-long thesis for ER&M that combined my literary interests with various theoretical frameworks and the two senior seminars for English. This spring I’m taking my second seminar. Really, I chose the option to torture myself for a whole year, the end result being a minimum of 50 pages of innovative thinking and writing. I wanted to rise to the challenge, proving to myself I could do it. But there also seemed to be the pressure of “this is what everyone in the major does,” and a “thesis is proof that you actually learned.” Although these sentiments influenced my decision to complete a thesis, I know a long research paper does not validate my education or work as a scholar the last four years. It is not the end all be all.

My senior thesis focuses on Caribbean literature - specifically, two novels written by Caribbean women that really look at what it means to come from an immigrant family, to move, and to find yourself in completely new spaces. These experiences are all too relatable to my own life as a second-generation woman of color with immigrant parents enrolled at Yale. In my writing, I focus on how these women make sense of “home” (a very broad and complicated topic, I know), and what their stories tell us about the diasporic experience in general. The project is very personal to me, and I chose it because I wanted to understand my family’s history and their task in making “home” in the U.S., whatever that means. But because it’s so personal, it’s also been really difficult. I’ve experienced a lot of writer’s block or often felt unmotivated and judgmental towards my work. I’ve realized how difficult it is to devote your time and energy to such a long process––not only is it research heavy, but you have to write and rewrite drafts, constantly adjusting to make sure you’re being as clear as possible. Really, writing a thesis is like writing a portion of a book. And that’s crazy! You’re writing two or three whole chapters of academic work as an undergraduate student.

The process is definitely not for everyone, and I’ve certainly thought “Why did I want to do this again?” But what’s really kept me going is the support from my advisors and friends. The ER&M department faculty does an amazing job of providing us mentorship, revisions, and support throughout the process; my advisor has served as my editor but also the person who reminds me most that this work is important, as I often forget that. It also helps to have many friends and people in the major also writing their theses. I’ve found different spaces to just have a thesis study hall or working time, with other people also struggling through. Recently, I submitted my first full draft (note: it was kind of unfinished but it’s okay because it’s a draft!), and it was crazy to think that I wrote 50+ pages, most of which are just my own original thoughts and analysis on two books that have almost no scholarship written about them. It was a relief for sure. This week I will be taking a full break from it, but it reminded me of why I began this journey. It reminded me of all the people who’ve supported me along the way, and how I really couldn’t have done it without them. And now, I’m really looking forward to how good it will feel to turn in my fully written thesis mid-April. I’ve realized that this project shouldn’t be about making it good for Yale’s standard, but for myself, for my family, and for the people who believe in this work as much as I do.

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Senior Project/Thesis

All students majoring in Computer Science are required to complete a semester-long Senior Project or a Senior Thesis in their senior year. A Senior Project/Thesis represents a student’s capstone experience in the discipline. Students are required to submit a Project or a Thesis proposal by Nov. 15 in the fall semester of their senior year and register for the course CS 399 (Senior Conference) for the spring semester that follows. More details regarding a Senior Project/Thesis are presented below.

Selecting a Senior Project/Thesis Topic

A Senior Project/Thesis represents the culmination of a student’s pursuit of a degree in Computer Science. A Senior Project is typically a well-defined project whose end result is a specific deliverable. An application, an empirical study, a survey, or replicating an existing result are example categories of projects. A Senior Thesis has an expectation of producing new knowledge or advancement in a specific area. Theses are typically carried out in the research areas of department faculty. Both, a project or a thesis, culminate in a written report.

Identifying a project is typically done in the spring semester of the Junior year. Students are required to submit a (one-page) Thesis/Project proposal by Nov. 15 in the fall semester of their senior year, and register for CS 399 (Senior Conference) in the spring semester of their Senior Year. Students are required to submit a formal Project Report (or a Thesis) to their advisor by the end of the twelfth week of the spring semester. Students are also required to give a formal presentation which is scheduled in the final two weeks of the classes in spring.

Students completing a double major or a minor in another field are encouraged to propose interdisciplinary projects/thesis in the subjects of their major(s)/minor(s). Double Majors can also propose a single interdisciplinary Senior Project/Thesis that will fulfill the requirements of both majors.

Several students can also form a group and propose a collaborative Senior Project.

Honors in Computer Science

Students electing to complete Senior Thesis are eligible for graduating with Honors in Computer Science. Students doing a Senior Project that results in original contributions can apply to turn their Senior Project into a Senior Thesis (see Requesting Consideration for Honors). The thesis is reviewed by a committee of three professors who will decide whether to award the Honors. As per college rules, students with a GPA of 3.8 in the Major will be automatically considered for Honors upon successful completion of a thesis. Students below the 3.8 GPA threshold should consult with their advisor and Senior Conference coordinator for Honors consideration.

Choosing an Adviser

To help develop their ideas for a project or thesis, students should engage their professor(s) in the process sometime in the spring semester of their Junior year. The advisor can help student with outlining the scope of the project, selecting background reading, computing materials, software, and other logistics of the project. Occasionally, there may even be external funding that may be available for carrying out the project (see below). The advisor can help students identify possible funding sources. Students should make sure that they set a weekly meeting time to meet with their advisors about the project.

Formulating a Senior Project/Thesis Proposal

With a professor’s assistance, a student can arrive at a specific proposal (a one-page abstract) that describes the project. The abstract should be submitted to the department by Nov. 15 in the fall semester of their senior year. A more definite and detailed proposal will be required by the end of Week 1 of the CS 399 course in the spring.

Spring Semester of Junior Year: Typically, planning for a Senior Project/Thesis should begin in the spring semester of the Junior year. Students can then spend the summer doing some background research on the topic before finalizing a specific project. Excellent Summer Research opportunities are available at Bryn Mawr and at other national and international venues. Consult with your advisor about these.

Fall Semester of Senior Year: Students can spend this semester doing initial feasibility studies and further honing their projects. Try and meet with your thesis advisor(s) at least once every two weeks, if you have one. Generally, most good projects begin their work in earnest by the end of the fall semester. You are also required to submit a thesis proposal to the department by Nov. 15.

Spring Semester of Senior Year: Prepare an updated 2-page abstract in Week 1 and submit it to the advisor. Enroll in CS 399 (Senior Conference). Submit a Senior Project Report (or a Thesis) by the end of Week 12. Give a presentation in the final two weeks of the semester.

Requesting Consideration for Honors

For consideration for Honors in Computer Science (See above), students should request their Project/Thesis be reviewed by a faculty committee of three at the time of submitting a final report/thesis. Students’ advisors can help in making the decision of whether or not a project/thesis might qualify for Honors.

A Sampling of Previous Senior Projects/Theses

Below is a list of some Senior Projects/Theses past years:

Cara Takemoto '12 Title: Using Authorship Attribution Techniques to Classify Texts by Native and Non-native Speakers Advisor: Deepak Kumar

Bethany Azuma '11 Title: Comparison of Constructions of Smooth Surfaces Advisor: Dianna Xu

Marissa Mocenigo '11 Title: Analyzing Data Visualization Methods for Academic Social Networks Advisor: Dianna Xu

Mansi Gupta '10 Title: Visualizing Dance Formations: Dance Studio Version II Advisor: Dianna Xu

Ashley Gavin '10 Title: Portal; Merging the Real and Virtual Gaming Worlds Advisor: Dianna Xu

Marwa Nur Muhammad '09 Title: Visualizing Dance Formations: The Choreographer’s Tool Advisor: Dianna Xu

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The senior thesis is typically the most challenging writing project undertaken by undergraduate students. The writing guides below aim to introduce students both to the specific methods and conventions of writing original research in their area of concentration and to effective writing process.

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Barnard College Columbia University

The Senior Thesis

Barnard College has a long-standing commitment to preparing students in the major so that they may undertake a capstone project. All Barnard seniors are required to complete a senior project or thesis, an opportunity the Theatre/Drama & Theatre Arts major extends to all majors, whether from Barnard, Columbia College, or Columbia General Studies. The senior thesis project allows students to develop records of individual research that include theoretical engagement in the major discipline, the development of creative projects or research, and original empirical and interpretive analysis. The form of the senior requirement may vary across majors, but the most common forms are the senior thesis (one or two semesters), supervised original research in a lab, a final creative project, and/or research that has been completed within a dedicated senior seminar. The thesis review will be conducted by the full-time faculty of the department (Cardenas, Goldmark, Mitra, Reagan, H. Worthen, W.B. Worthen), in consultation with faculty in specific thesis fields.

Senior Thesis Application

Senior Thesis Application   Application for senior thesis fields (acting, design, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, solo performance, research) is due in January of the junior year (after 5th semester; 3 semesters remaining); students must be declared majors, and have taken formal coursework in the department in the potential field(s) of the senior thesis.  Applications in the Spring of 2024 are due by NOON on Friday, January 26. 

Thesis Options

In the Theatre/Drama & Theatre Arts major, the thesis can be undertaken in one of the following fields:

  • Playwriting
  • Solo Performance
  • Stage and Production Management

Thesis Casebook Format

All Research theses and Performance thesis Casebooks should be typed, double spaced, and use either Chicago Manual of Style or MLA Handbook citation format. Casebooks should have a heading page between each section of the Casebook.

All photos must be identified by source and credited. Sketches, illustrations, elevations, plots, etc. should all be included in the PDF and hard copies: photographs of the production itself may also be included, and must be properly credited.

All theses must have a title page. The title page should take the following format:

Title of Senior Thesis 

Your Name 

Thesis Adviser: Name 

Second Reader: Name 

Department of Theatre, Barnard College, Columbia University 

Drama and Theatre Arts, Columbia College, Columbia University 

Drama and Theatre Arts, School of General Studies, Columbia University 

Submitted on DATE

Please do not use titles for the faculty (Professor, Dr., etc.). Please center your title about 3 inches down from the top of the page; put the names of your adviser and reader, the list of the sponsoring institutions, and the date, aligned right about 2 inches up from the bottom of the page.

Copies of senior theses from previous years can be examined in the Theatre Department office, Milbank 336.

Thesis Deadlines

The Casebook is to be submitted in PDF form to the Theatre Adviser, the Chair, and to the Theatre Administrator by the due date; there are no exceptions to this policy. A hard copy is to be submitted to the Department office, Milbank 333C.

Submission deadlines for Senior Thesis in Performance Casebooks/Research Theses:

  • Research Theses: one week before the final class Monday, noon.
  • Dramaturgy, Directing, Design, Acting Theses: Friday following the final performance, noon.
  • Solo Performance, Playwriting Theses: Tuesday following final performance, noon.

Thesis Grading

All theses will be graded by two readers: the thesis adviser and the second reader. The second reader—who will receive the written thesis/Casebook and will see the performance of performance theses—is not involved in the process of the thesis: s/he does not read or respond to drafts, only the final thesis as submitted.

Senior theses are graded holistically on the overall ambition, clarity, success, tenacity, and representation of the project; although the performance in performance theses is weighted more heavily than the Casebook, both play a critical role in the final grade.

All written documents should be presented professionally: essays develop a clear, original, and well-substantiated argument, carefully documented, using appropriate citation mechanics correctly. Casebook materials are not simply gathered, but receive commentary that explains and briefly analyzes their use in the artistic process.

Since the thesis is a 4-unit course, it's appropriate to consider the written materials as comparable in quality and rigor to written work submitted as final essays in an upper-level class.

After the submission of the written thesis, adviser and second reader confer and come to an agreement on the final grade; they share a final comment with each other, and the comments and final grade are communicated to the student when the final grade is submitted by the adviser.

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Search the site, search suggestions, preparing for a senior thesis.

Fall foliage in Harvard Yard.

Every year, a little over half of Harvard’s senior class chooses to pursue a senior thesis. While the senior thesis looks a little different from field to field, one thing remains the same: completion of a senior thesis is a serious and challenging endeavor that requires the student to make a genuine intellectual contribution to their field of interest.

The senior thesis is a significant task for students to undertake, but there is a variety of support resources available here at Harvard to ensure that seniors can make the best of their senior thesis experience.

A woman walks through a library at Harvard.

Wandering the library stacks at Widener.

I do most of my research in Widener Library. Hannah Martinez

As a rising senior in the History department, I am planning on pursuing a senior thesis on the history and use of the SAT in college admissions, and I am using the following support systems and resources to research and write my thesis:

  • Staff at the History department. Every student within the department is assigned an academic advisor, who is a graduate student studying History at Harvard and knows the support available within the department. My academic advisor has helped me throughout the thesis process by connecting me with potential faculty members to advise my thesis and pick classes with a lighter course load so I can focus on completing my thesis. The Director of Undergraduate Studies in History (the History DUS) has also been pivotal in making sure that I attended a lot of information sessions about what the thesis looks like and how much of a commitment it is.
  • History faculty at Harvard! All of my professors in History have been incredibly helpful in teaching me how to write like a historian, how to use primary sources in my essays, and how to undertake a serious research project over the course of a semester. Of course, while the thesis will require me to go far beyond what I’ve ever done before, I feel prepared to take on such a task because of the unwavering support from the History faculty. My mentor, Emma Rothschild, is one of the members of the faculty who has been invaluable in encouraging me to go as far as I am able.
  • And last but certainly not least: funding. Funding, whether in term-time of the summer before senior year, is crucial towards making the senior thesis possible. Harvard’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships is dedicated to connecting Harvard students to funding sources across the university so they can pursue their research and get paid for it. This summer, I received a grant from the university of almost $2,000 so I am able to travel to libraries, buy books, and potentially take time off of work and do my research. Without such a grant, it would be incredibly difficult for me to do enough research so I can write a thesis this upcoming fall.

As you can see, there are multiple avenues for support and resources here at Harvard so your senior thesis is as easy as possible. While the senior thesis is still a challenging project that will take up a lot of time, Harvard’s resources make it possible for senior students to do their very best in all of their theses. I’m excited to start writing this fall!

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  • Senior Theses

Doing a senior thesis is an exciting enterprise. It’s often the first time students are engaging in truly original research and trying to develop a significant contribution to a field of inquiry. But as joyful as an independent research process can be, you don’t have to go it alone. It’s important to have support as you navigate such a large endeavor, and the ARC is here to offer one of those layers of support.

Whether or not to write a senior thesis is just the first in a long line of questions thesis writers need to consider. In addition to questions about the topic and scope of your thesis, there are questions about timing, schedule, and support. For example, if you are collecting data, when should data collection start and when should it be completed? What kind of schedule will you write on? How will you work with your adviser? Do you want to meet with your adviser about your progress once a month? Once a week? What other resources can you turn to for information, feedback, and support?

Even though there is a lot to think about and a lot to do, doing a thesis really can be an enjoyable experience! Keep reminding yourself why you chose this topic and why you care about it.

Tips for Tackling Big Projects:

Break the process down into manageable chunks.

  • When you’re approaching a big project, it can seem overwhelming to look at the whole thing at once, so it’s essential to identify the smaller steps that will move you towards the completed project.
  • Your adviser is best suited to help you break down the thesis process with field-specific advice.
  • If you need to refine the breakdown further so it makes sense for you, schedule an appointment with an  Academic Coach . An academic coach can help you think through the steps in a way that works for you.

Schedule brief writing sessions at regular times.

  • Pre-determine the time, place, and duration.
  • Keep it short (15 to 60 minutes).
  • Have a clear and reasonable goal for each writing session.
  • Make it a regular event (every day, every other day, MWF).
  • time is not wasted deciding to write if it’s already in your calendar;
  • keeping sessions short reduces the competition from other tasks that are not getting done;
  • having an achievable goal for each session provides a sense of accomplishment (a reward for your work);
  • writing regularly can turn into a productive habit.

Create accountability structures.

  • In addition to having a clear goal for each writing session, it's important to have clear goals for each week and to find someone to communicate these goals to, such as your adviser, a “thesis buddy,” your roommate, etc. Communicating your goals and progress to someone else creates a useful sense of accountability.
  • If your adviser is not the person you are communicating your progress to on a weekly basis, then request to set up a structure with your adviser that requires you to check in at less frequent but regular intervals.
  • Commit to attending Accountability Hours  at the ARC on the same day every week. Making that commitment will add both social support and structure to your week. Use the ARC Scheduler to register for Accountability Hours.
  • Set up an accountability group in your department or with thesis writers from different departments.

Create feedback structures.

  • It’s important to have a means for getting consistent feedback on your work and to get that feedback early. Work on large projects often lacks the feeling of completeness, so don’t wait for a whole section (and certainly not the whole thesis) to feel “done” before you get feedback on it!
  • Your thesis adviser is typically the person best positioned to give you feedback on your research and writing, so communicate with your adviser about how and how often you would like to get feedback.
  • If your adviser isn’t able to give you feedback with the frequency you’d like, then fill in the gaps by creating a thesis writing group or exploring if there is already a writing group in your department or lab.
  • The Harvard College Writing Center is a great resource for thesis feedback. Writing Center Senior Thesis Tutors can provide feedback on the structure, argument, and clarity of your writing and help with mapping out your writing plan. Visit the Writing Center website to schedule an appointment with a thesis tutor .

Accept that there will be some anxious moments.

  • To reduce this source of anxiety, try keeping a separate document where you jot down ideas on how your research questions or central argument might be clarifying or changing as you research and write. Doing this will enable you to stay focused on the section you are working on and to stop worrying about forgetting the new ideas that are emerging.
  • You might feel anxious when you realize that you need to update your argument in response to the evidence you have gathered or the new thinking your writing has unleashed. Know that that is OK. Research and writing are iterative processes – new ideas and new ways of thinking are what makes progress possible.
  • Breaking down big projects into manageable chunks and mapping out a schedule for working through each chunk is one way to reduce this source of anxiety. It’s reassuring to know you are working towards the end even if you cannot quite see how it will turn out.
  • It may be that your thesis or dissertation never truly feels “done” to you, but that’s okay. Academic inquiry is an ongoing endeavor.

Focus on what works for you.

  • Just because your roommate wrote 10 pages in a day doesn’t mean that’s the right pace or strategy for you.
  • If you are having trouble figuring out what works for you, use the  ARC Scheduler  to make an appointment with an  Academic Coach , who can help you come up with daily, weekly, and semester-long plans.

Use your resources.

  • There’s a lot of the thesis writing process that has to be done independently, but there are also a lot of free resources at Harvard to help you do the work.
  • If you’re having trouble finding a source, email your question or set up a research consult via Ask a Librarian .
  • If you’re looking for additional feedback or help with any aspect of writing, contact the Harvard College Writing Center . The Writing Center has Senior Thesis Tutors who will read drafts of your thesis (more typically, parts of your thesis) in advance and meet with you individually to talk about structure, argument, clear writing, and mapping out your writing plan.
  • If you need help with breaking down your project or setting up a schedule for the week, the semester, or until the deadline, use the  ARC Scheduler  to make an appointment with an  Academic Coach .
  • If you would like an accountability structure for social support and to keep yourself on track, come to Accountability Hours at the ARC.

Accordion style

  • Assessing Your Understanding
  • Building Your Academic Support System
  • Common Class Norms
  • Effective Learning Practices
  • First-Year Students
  • How to Prepare for Class
  • Interacting with Instructors
  • Know and Honor Your Priorities
  • Memory and Attention
  • Minimizing Zoom Fatigue
  • Note-taking
  • Office Hours
  • Perfectionism
  • Scheduling Time
  • Study Groups
  • Tackling STEM Courses
  • Test Anxiety

senior project vs thesis

The Senior Thesis

From the outset of their time at Princeton, students are encouraged and challenged to develop their scholarly interests and to evolve as independent thinkers.

The culmination of this process is the senior thesis, which provides a unique opportunity for students to pursue original research and scholarship in a field of their choosing. At Princeton, every senior writes a thesis or, in the case of some engineering departments, undertakes a substantial independent project.

Integral to the senior thesis process is the opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty member who guides the development of the project. Thesis writers and advisers agree that the most valuable outcome of the senior thesis is the chance for students to enhance skills that are the foundation of future success, including creativity, intellectual engagement, mental discipline and the ability to meet new challenges.

Many students develop projects from ideas sparked in the classes they’ve taken; others fashion their topics on the basis of long-standing personal passions. Most thesis writers encounter the intellectual twists and turns of any good research project, where the questions emerge as they proceed, often taking them in unexpected directions.

Planning for the senior thesis starts in earnest in the junior year, when students complete a significant research project known as the junior paper. Students who plan ahead can make good use of the University's considerable resources, such as receiving University funds to do research in the United States or abroad. Other students use summer internships as a launching pad for their thesis. For some science and engineering projects, students stay on campus the summer before their senior year to get a head start on lab work.

Writing a thesis encourages the self-confidence and high ambitions that come from mastering a difficult challenge. It fosters the development of specific skills and habits of mind that augur well for future success. No wonder generations of graduates look back on the senior thesis as the most valuable academic component of their Princeton experience.

Navigating Colombia’s Magdalena River, One Story At A Time

For his senior thesis, Jordan Salama, a Spanish and Portuguese major, produced a nonfiction book of travel writing about the people and places along Colombia’s main river, the Magdalena.

senior project vs thesis

Embracing the Classics to Inform Policymaking for Public Education

For her senior thesis, Emma Treadway, a member of the Class of 2022, considers how the basic tenets of Stoicism — a school of philosophy that dates from 300 BCE — can teach students to engage empathetically with the world and address inequities in the classroom.

senior project vs thesis

Creating A Faster, Cheaper and Greener Chemical Reaction

One way to make drugs more affordable is to make them cheaper to produce. For her senior thesis research, Cassidy Humphreys, a chemistry concentrator with a passion for medicine, took on the challenge of taking a century-old formula at the core of many modern medications — and improving it.

senior project vs thesis

The Humanity of Improvisational Dance

Esin Yunusoglu investigated how humans move together and exist in a space — both on the dance floor and in real life — for the choreography she created as her senior thesis in dance, advised by Professor of Dance Susan Marshall.

senior project vs thesis

From the Blog

The infamous senior thesis, revisiting wwii: my senior thesis, independent work in its full glory, advisers, independent work and beyond.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Honors Theses

What this handout is about.

Writing a senior honors thesis, or any major research essay, can seem daunting at first. A thesis requires a reflective, multi-stage writing process. This handout will walk you through those stages. It is targeted at students in the humanities and social sciences, since their theses tend to involve more writing than projects in the hard sciences. Yet all thesis writers may find the organizational strategies helpful.


What is an honors thesis.

That depends quite a bit on your field of study. However, all honors theses have at least two things in common:

  • They are based on students’ original research.
  • They take the form of a written manuscript, which presents the findings of that research. In the humanities, theses average 50-75 pages in length and consist of two or more chapters. In the social sciences, the manuscript may be shorter, depending on whether the project involves more quantitative than qualitative research. In the hard sciences, the manuscript may be shorter still, often taking the form of a sophisticated laboratory report.

Who can write an honors thesis?

In general, students who are at the end of their junior year, have an overall 3.2 GPA, and meet their departmental requirements can write a senior thesis. For information about your eligibility, contact:

  • UNC Honors Program
  • Your departmental administrators of undergraduate studies/honors

Why write an honors thesis?

Satisfy your intellectual curiosity This is the most compelling reason to write a thesis. Whether it’s the short stories of Flannery O’Connor or the challenges of urban poverty, you’ve studied topics in college that really piqued your interest. Now’s your chance to follow your passions, explore further, and contribute some original ideas and research in your field.

Develop transferable skills Whether you choose to stay in your field of study or not, the process of developing and crafting a feasible research project will hone skills that will serve you well in almost any future job. After all, most jobs require some form of problem solving and oral and written communication. Writing an honors thesis requires that you:

  • ask smart questions
  • acquire the investigative instincts needed to find answers
  • navigate libraries, laboratories, archives, databases, and other research venues
  • develop the flexibility to redirect your research if your initial plan flops
  • master the art of time management
  • hone your argumentation skills
  • organize a lengthy piece of writing
  • polish your oral communication skills by presenting and defending your project to faculty and peers

Work closely with faculty mentors At large research universities like Carolina, you’ve likely taken classes where you barely got to know your instructor. Writing a thesis offers the opportunity to work one-on-one with a with faculty adviser. Such mentors can enrich your intellectual development and later serve as invaluable references for graduate school and employment.

Open windows into future professions An honors thesis will give you a taste of what it’s like to do research in your field. Even if you’re a sociology major, you may not really know what it’s like to be a sociologist. Writing a sociology thesis would open a window into that world. It also might help you decide whether to pursue that field in graduate school or in your future career.

How do you write an honors thesis?

Get an idea of what’s expected.

It’s a good idea to review some of the honors theses other students have submitted to get a sense of what an honors thesis might look like and what kinds of things might be appropriate topics. Look for examples from the previous year in the Carolina Digital Repository. You may also be able to find past theses collected in your major department or at the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library. Pay special attention to theses written by students who share your major.

Choose a topic

Ideally, you should start thinking about topics early in your junior year, so you can begin your research and writing quickly during your senior year. (Many departments require that you submit a proposal for an honors thesis project during the spring of your junior year.)

How should you choose a topic?

  • Read widely in the fields that interest you. Make a habit of browsing professional journals to survey the “hot” areas of research and to familiarize yourself with your field’s stylistic conventions. (You’ll find the most recent issues of the major professional journals in the periodicals reading room on the first floor of Davis Library).
  • Set up appointments to talk with faculty in your field. This is a good idea, since you’ll eventually need to select an advisor and a second reader. Faculty also can help you start narrowing down potential topics.
  • Look at honors theses from the past. The North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library holds UNC honors theses. To get a sense of the typical scope of a thesis, take a look at a sampling from your field.

What makes a good topic?

  • It’s fascinating. Above all, choose something that grips your imagination. If you don’t, the chances are good that you’ll struggle to finish.
  • It’s doable. Even if a topic interests you, it won’t work out unless you have access to the materials you need to research it. Also be sure that your topic is narrow enough. Let’s take an example: Say you’re interested in the efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and early 1980s. That’s a big topic that probably can’t be adequately covered in a single thesis. You need to find a case study within that larger topic. For example, maybe you’re particularly interested in the states that did not ratify the ERA. Of those states, perhaps you’ll select North Carolina, since you’ll have ready access to local research materials. And maybe you want to focus primarily on the ERA’s opponents. Beyond that, maybe you’re particularly interested in female opponents of the ERA. Now you’ve got a much more manageable topic: Women in North Carolina Who Opposed the ERA in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • It contains a question. There’s a big difference between having a topic and having a guiding research question. Taking the above topic, perhaps your main question is: Why did some women in North Carolina oppose the ERA? You will, of course, generate other questions: Who were the most outspoken opponents? White women? Middle-class women? How did they oppose the ERA? Public protests? Legislative petitions? etc. etc. Yet it’s good to start with a guiding question that will focus your research.

Goal-setting and time management

The senior year is an exceptionally busy time for college students. In addition to the usual load of courses and jobs, seniors have the daunting task of applying for jobs and/or graduate school. These demands are angst producing and time consuming If that scenario sounds familiar, don’t panic! Do start strategizing about how to make a time for your thesis. You may need to take a lighter course load or eliminate extracurricular activities. Even if the thesis is the only thing on your plate, you still need to make a systematic schedule for yourself. Most departments require that you take a class that guides you through the honors project, so deadlines likely will be set for you. Still, you should set your own goals for meeting those deadlines. Here are a few suggestions for goal setting and time management:

Start early. Keep in mind that many departments will require that you turn in your thesis sometime in early April, so don’t count on having the entire spring semester to finish your work. Ideally, you’ll start the research process the semester or summer before your senior year so that the writing process can begin early in the fall. Some goal-setting will be done for you if you are taking a required class that guides you through the honors project. But any substantive research project requires a clear timetable.

Set clear goals in making a timetable. Find out the final deadline for turning in your project to your department. Working backwards from that deadline, figure out how much time you can allow for the various stages of production.

Here is a sample timetable. Use it, however, with two caveats in mind:

  • The timetable for your thesis might look very different depending on your departmental requirements.
  • You may not wish to proceed through these stages in a linear fashion. You may want to revise chapter one before you write chapter two. Or you might want to write your introduction last, not first. This sample is designed simply to help you start thinking about how to customize your own schedule.

Sample timetable

Avoid falling into the trap of procrastination. Once you’ve set goals for yourself, stick to them! For some tips on how to do this, see our handout on procrastination .

Consistent production

It’s a good idea to try to squeeze in a bit of thesis work every day—even if it’s just fifteen minutes of journaling or brainstorming about your topic. Or maybe you’ll spend that fifteen minutes taking notes on a book. The important thing is to accomplish a bit of active production (i.e., putting words on paper) for your thesis every day. That way, you develop good writing habits that will help you keep your project moving forward.

Make yourself accountable to someone other than yourself

Since most of you will be taking a required thesis seminar, you will have deadlines. Yet you might want to form a writing group or enlist a peer reader, some person or people who can help you stick to your goals. Moreover, if your advisor encourages you to work mostly independently, don’t be afraid to ask him or her to set up periodic meetings at which you’ll turn in installments of your project.

Brainstorming and freewriting

One of the biggest challenges of a lengthy writing project is keeping the creative juices flowing. Here’s where freewriting can help. Try keeping a small notebook handy where you jot down stray ideas that pop into your head. Or schedule time to freewrite. You may find that such exercises “free” you up to articulate your argument and generate new ideas. Here are some questions to stimulate freewriting.

Questions for basic brainstorming at the beginning of your project:

  • What do I already know about this topic?
  • Why do I care about this topic?
  • Why is this topic important to people other than myself
  • What more do I want to learn about this topic?
  • What is the main question that I am trying to answer?
  • Where can I look for additional information?
  • Who is my audience and how can I reach them?
  • How will my work inform my larger field of study?
  • What’s the main goal of my research project?

Questions for reflection throughout your project:

  • What’s my main argument? How has it changed since I began the project?
  • What’s the most important evidence that I have in support of my “big point”?
  • What questions do my sources not answer?
  • How does my case study inform or challenge my field writ large?
  • Does my project reinforce or contradict noted scholars in my field? How?
  • What is the most surprising finding of my research?
  • What is the most frustrating part of this project?
  • What is the most rewarding part of this project?
  • What will be my work’s most important contribution?

Research and note-taking

In conducting research, you will need to find both primary sources (“firsthand” sources that come directly from the period/events/people you are studying) and secondary sources (“secondhand” sources that are filtered through the interpretations of experts in your field.) The nature of your research will vary tremendously, depending on what field you’re in. For some general suggestions on finding sources, consult the UNC Libraries tutorials . Whatever the exact nature of the research you’re conducting, you’ll be taking lots of notes and should reflect critically on how you do that. Too often it’s assumed that the research phase of a project involves very little substantive writing (i.e., writing that involves thinking). We sit down with our research materials and plunder them for basic facts and useful quotations. That mechanical type of information-recording is important. But a more thoughtful type of writing and analytical thinking is also essential at this stage. Some general guidelines for note-taking:

First of all, develop a research system. There are lots of ways to take and organize your notes. Whether you choose to use note cards, computer databases, or notebooks, follow two cardinal rules:

  • Make careful distinctions between direct quotations and your paraphrasing! This is critical if you want to be sure to avoid accidentally plagiarizing someone else’s work. For more on this, see our handout on plagiarism .
  • Record full citations for each source. Don’t get lazy here! It will be far more difficult to find the proper citation later than to write it down now.

Keeping those rules in mind, here’s a template for the types of information that your note cards/legal pad sheets/computer files should include for each of your sources:

Abbreviated subject heading: Include two or three words to remind you of what this sources is about (this shorthand categorization is essential for the later sorting of your sources).

Complete bibliographic citation:

  • author, title, publisher, copyright date, and page numbers for published works
  • box and folder numbers and document descriptions for archival sources
  • complete web page title, author, address, and date accessed for online sources

Notes on facts, quotations, and arguments: Depending on the type of source you’re using, the content of your notes will vary. If, for example, you’re using US Census data, then you’ll mainly be writing down statistics and numbers. If you’re looking at someone else’s diary, you might jot down a number of quotations that illustrate the subject’s feelings and perspectives. If you’re looking at a secondary source, you’ll want to make note not just of factual information provided by the author but also of his or her key arguments.

Interpreting the context of a source:

  • Who wrote/created the source?
  • When, and under what circumstances, was it written/created?
  • Why was it written/created? What was the agenda behind the source?
  • How was it written/created?
  • If using a secondary source: How does it speak to other scholarship in the field?

Interpreting the significance of a source:

  • How does this source answer (or complicate) my guiding research questions?
  • Does it pose new questions for my project? What are they?
  • Does it challenge my fundamental argument? If so, how?
  • Given the source’s context, how reliable is it?

You don’t need to answer all of these questions for each source, but you should set a goal of engaging in at least one or two sentences of thoughtful, interpretative writing for each source. If you do so, you’ll make much easier the next task that awaits you: drafting.

The dread of drafting

Why do we often dread drafting? We dread drafting because it requires synthesis, one of the more difficult forms of thinking and interpretation. If you’ve been free-writing and taking thoughtful notes during the research phase of your project, then the drafting should be far less painful. Here are some tips on how to get started:

Sort your “evidence” or research into analytical categories:

  • Some people file note cards into categories.
  • The technologically-oriented among us take notes using computer database programs that have built-in sorting mechanisms.
  • Others cut and paste evidence into detailed outlines on their computer.
  • Still others stack books, notes, and photocopies into topically-arranged piles.There is not a single right way, but this step—in some form or fashion—is essential!

If you’ve been forcing yourself to put subject headings on your notes as you go along, you’ll have generated a number of important analytical categories. Now, you need to refine those categories and sort your evidence. Everyone has a different “sorting style.”

Formulate working arguments for your entire thesis and individual chapters. Once you’ve sorted your evidence, you need to spend some time thinking about your project’s “big picture.” You need to be able to answer two questions in specific terms:

  • What is the overall argument of my thesis?
  • What are the sub-arguments of each chapter and how do they relate to my main argument?

Keep in mind that “working arguments” may change after you start writing. But a senior thesis is big and potentially unwieldy. If you leave this business of argument to chance, you may end up with a tangle of ideas. See our handout on arguments and handout on thesis statements for some general advice on formulating arguments.

Divide your thesis into manageable chunks. The surest road to frustration at this stage is getting obsessed with the big picture. What? Didn’t we just say that you needed to focus on the big picture? Yes, by all means, yes. You do need to focus on the big picture in order to get a conceptual handle on your project, but you also need to break your thesis down into manageable chunks of writing. For example, take a small stack of note cards and flesh them out on paper. Or write through one point on a chapter outline. Those small bits of prose will add up quickly.

Just start! Even if it’s not at the beginning. Are you having trouble writing those first few pages of your chapter? Sometimes the introduction is the toughest place to start. You should have a rough idea of your overall argument before you begin writing one of the main chapters, but you might find it easier to start writing in the middle of a chapter of somewhere other than word one. Grab hold where you evidence is strongest and your ideas are clearest.

Keep up the momentum! Assuming the first draft won’t be your last draft, try to get your thoughts on paper without spending too much time fussing over minor stylistic concerns. At the drafting stage, it’s all about getting those ideas on paper. Once that task is done, you can turn your attention to revising.

Peter Elbow, in Writing With Power, suggests that writing is difficult because it requires two conflicting tasks: creating and criticizing. While these two tasks are intimately intertwined, the drafting stage focuses on creating, while revising requires criticizing. If you leave your revising to the last minute, then you’ve left out a crucial stage of the writing process. See our handout for some general tips on revising . The challenges of revising an honors thesis may include:

Juggling feedback from multiple readers

A senior thesis may mark the first time that you have had to juggle feedback from a wide range of readers:

  • your adviser
  • a second (and sometimes third) faculty reader
  • the professor and students in your honors thesis seminar

You may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of incorporating all this advice. Keep in mind that some advice is better than others. You will probably want to take most seriously the advice of your adviser since he/she carries the most weight in giving your project a stamp of approval. But sometimes your adviser may give you more advice than you can digest. If so, don’t be afraid to approach him/her—in a polite and cooperative spirit, of course—and ask for some help in prioritizing that advice. See our handout for some tips on getting and receiving feedback .

Refining your argument

It’s especially easy in writing a lengthy work to lose sight of your main ideas. So spend some time after you’ve drafted to go back and clarify your overall argument and the individual chapter arguments and make sure they match the evidence you present.

Organizing and reorganizing

Again, in writing a 50-75 page thesis, things can get jumbled. You may find it particularly helpful to make a “reverse outline” of each of your chapters. That will help you to see the big sections in your work and move things around so there’s a logical flow of ideas. See our handout on  organization  for more organizational suggestions and tips on making a reverse outline

Plugging in holes in your evidence

It’s unlikely that you anticipated everything you needed to look up before you drafted your thesis. Save some time at the revising stage to plug in the holes in your research. Make sure that you have both primary and secondary evidence to support and contextualize your main ideas.

Saving time for the small stuff

Even though your argument, evidence, and organization are most important, leave plenty of time to polish your prose. At this point, you’ve spent a very long time on your thesis. Don’t let minor blemishes (misspellings and incorrect grammar) distract your readers!

Formatting and final touches

You’re almost done! You’ve researched, drafted, and revised your thesis; now you need to take care of those pesky little formatting matters. An honors thesis should replicate—on a smaller scale—the appearance of a dissertation or master’s thesis. So, you need to include the “trappings” of a formal piece of academic work. For specific questions on formatting matters, check with your department to see if it has a style guide that you should use. For general formatting guidelines, consult the Graduate School’s Guide to Dissertations and Theses . Keeping in mind the caveat that you should always check with your department first about its stylistic guidelines, here’s a brief overview of the final “finishing touches” that you’ll need to put on your honors thesis:

  • Honors Thesis
  • Name of Department
  • University of North Carolina
  • These parts of the thesis will vary in format depending on whether your discipline uses MLA, APA, CBE, or Chicago (also known in its shortened version as Turabian) style. Whichever style you’re using, stick to the rules and be consistent. It might be helpful to buy an appropriate style guide. Or consult the UNC LibrariesYear Citations/footnotes and works cited/reference pages  citation tutorial
  • In addition, in the bottom left corner, you need to leave space for your adviser and faculty readers to sign their names. For example:

Approved by: _____________________

Adviser: Prof. Jane Doe

  • This is not a required component of an honors thesis. However, if you want to thank particular librarians, archivists, interviewees, and advisers, here’s the place to do it. You should include an acknowledgments page if you received a grant from the university or an outside agency that supported your research. It’s a good idea to acknowledge folks who helped you with a major project, but do not feel the need to go overboard with copious and flowery expressions of gratitude. You can—and should—always write additional thank-you notes to people who gave you assistance.
  • Formatted much like the table of contents.
  • You’ll need to save this until the end, because it needs to reflect your final pagination. Once you’ve made all changes to the body of the thesis, then type up your table of contents with the titles of each section aligned on the left and the page numbers on which those sections begin flush right.
  • Each page of your thesis needs a number, although not all page numbers are displayed. All pages that precede the first page of the main text (i.e., your introduction or chapter one) are numbered with small roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, etc.). All pages thereafter use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.).
  • Your text should be double spaced (except, in some cases, long excerpts of quoted material), in a 12 point font and a standard font style (e.g., Times New Roman). An honors thesis isn’t the place to experiment with funky fonts—they won’t enhance your work, they’ll only distract your readers.
  • In general, leave a one-inch inch margin on all sides. However, for the copy of your thesis that will be bound by the library, you need to leave a 1.25-inch margin on the left.

How do I defend my honors thesis?

Graciously, enthusiastically, and confidently. The term defense is scary and misleading—it conjures up images of a military exercise or an athletic maneuver. An academic defense ideally shouldn’t be a combative scene but a congenial conversation about the work’s merits and weaknesses. That said, the defense probably won’t be like the average conversation that you have with your friends. You’ll be the center of attention. And you may get some challenging questions. Thus, it’s a good idea to spend some time preparing yourself. First of all, you’ll want to prepare 5-10 minutes of opening comments. Here’s a good time to preempt some criticisms by frankly acknowledging what you think your work’s greatest strengths and weaknesses are. Then you may be asked some typical questions:

  • What is the main argument of your thesis?
  • How does it fit in with the work of Ms. Famous Scholar?
  • Have you read the work of Mr. Important Author?

NOTE: Don’t get too flustered if you haven’t! Most scholars have their favorite authors and books and may bring one or more of them up, even if the person or book is only tangentially related to the topic at hand. Should you get this question, answer honestly and simply jot down the title or the author’s name for future reference. No one expects you to have read everything that’s out there.

  • Why did you choose this particular case study to explore your topic?
  • If you were to expand this project in graduate school, how would you do so?

Should you get some biting criticism of your work, try not to get defensive. Yes, this is a defense, but you’ll probably only fan the flames if you lose your cool. Keep in mind that all academic work has flaws or weaknesses, and you can be sure that your professors have received criticisms of their own work. It’s part of the academic enterprise. Accept criticism graciously and learn from it. If you receive criticism that is unfair, stand up for yourself confidently, but in a good spirit. Above all, try to have fun! A defense is a rare opportunity to have eminent scholars in your field focus on YOU and your ideas and work. And the defense marks the end of a long and arduous journey. You have every right to be proud of your accomplishments!

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Atchity, Kenneth. 1986. A Writer’s Time: A Guide to the Creative Process from Vision Through Revision . New York: W.W. Norton.

Barzun, Jacques, and Henry F. Graff. 2012. The Modern Researcher , 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Elbow, Peter. 1998. Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process . New York: Oxford University Press.

Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. 2014. “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing , 3rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

Lamott, Anne. 1994. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life . New York: Pantheon.

Lasch, Christopher. 2002. Plain Style: A Guide to Written English. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Turabian, Kate. 2018. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, Dissertations , 9th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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What Is a Senior Thesis?

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  • Writing Research Papers
  • Writing Essays
  • English Grammar
  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

A senior thesis is a large, independent research project that students take on during their senior year of high school or college to fulfill their graduation requirement. It is the culminating work of their studies at a particular institution, and it represents their ability to conduct research and write effectively. For some students, a senior thesis is a requirement for graduating with honors.

Students typically work closely with an advisor and choose a question or topic to explore before carrying out an extensive research plan.

Style Manuals and the Paper's Organization

The structure of your research paper will depend, in part, on the style manual that is required by your instructor. Different disciplines, such as history, science, or education, have different rules to abide by when it comes to research paper construction, organization, and modes of citation. The styles for different types of assignment include:

Modern Language Association (MLA): The disciplines that tend to prefer the MLA style guide include literature, arts, and the humanities, such as linguistics, religion, and philosophy. To follow this style, you will use parenthetical citations to indicate your sources and a works cited page to show the list of books and articles you consulted.

American Psychological Association (APA): The APA style manual tends to be used in psychology, education, and some of the social sciences. This type of report may require the following:

  • Introduction

Chicago style: "The Chicago Manual of Style" is used in most college-level history courses as well as professional publications that contain scholarly articles. Chicago style may call for endnotes or footnotes corresponding to a bibliography page at the back or the author-date style of in-text citation, which uses parenthetical citations and a references page at the end.

Turabian style: Turabian is a student version of Chicago style. It requires some of the same formatting techniques as Chicago, but it includes special rules for writing college-level papers, such as book reports. A Turabian research paper may call for endnotes or footnotes and a bibliography.

Science style: Science instructors may require students to use a format that is similar to the structure used in publishing papers in scientific journals. The elements you would include in this sort of paper include:

  • List of materials and methods used
  • Results of your methods and experiments
  • Acknowledgments

American Medical Association (AMA): The AMA style book might be required for students in medical or premedical degree programs in college. Parts of an AMA research paper might include:

  • Proper headings and lists
  • Tables and figures
  • In-text citations
  • Reference list

Choose Your Topic Carefully

Starting off with a bad, difficult, or narrow topic likely won't lead to a positive result. Don't choose a question or statement that's so broad that it's overwhelming and could comprise a lifetime of research or a topic that's so narrow you'll struggle to compose 10 pages. Consider a topic that has a lot of recent research so you won't struggle to put your hands on current or adequate sources.

Select a topic that interests you. Putting in long hours on a subject that bores you will be arduous—and ripe for procrastination. If a professor recommends an area of interest, make sure it excites you.

Also, consider expanding a paper you've already written; you'll hit the ground running because you've already done some research and know the topic. Last, consult with your advisor before finalizing your topic. You don't want to put in a lot of hours on a subject that is rejected by your instructor.

Organize Your Time

Plan to spend half of your time researching and the other half writing. Often, students spend too much time researching and then find themselves in a crunch, madly writing in the final hours. Give yourself goals to reach along certain "signposts," such as the number of hours you want to have invested each week or by a certain date or how much you want to have completed in those same timeframes.

Organize Your Research

Compose your works cited or bibliography entries as you work on your paper. This is especially important if your style manual requires you to use access dates for any online sources that you review or requires page numbers be included in the citations. You don't want to end up at the very end of the project and not know what day you looked at a particular website or have to search through a hard-copy book looking for a quote that you included in the paper. Save PDFs of online sites, too, as you wouldn't want to need to look back at something and not be able to get online or find that the article has been removed since you read it.

Choose an Advisor You Trust

This may be your first opportunity to work with direct supervision. Choose an advisor who's familiar with the field, and ideally select someone you like and whose classes you've already taken. That way you'll have a rapport from the start. 

Consult Your Instructor

Remember that your instructor is the final authority on the details and requirements of your paper. Read through all instructions, and have a conversation with your instructor at the start of the project to determine his or her preferences and requirements. Have a cheat sheet or checklist of this information; don't expect yourself to remember all year every question you asked or instruction you were given. 

  • What Is a Bibliography?
  • What Is a Citation?
  • Turabian Style Guide With Examples
  • Formatting Papers in Chicago Style
  • Bibliography: Definition and Examples
  • Definition of Appendix in a Book or Written Work
  • Tips for Typing an Academic Paper on a Computer
  • What Are Endnotes, Why Are They Needed, and How Are They Used?
  • How to Organize Research Notes
  • MLA Style Parenthetical Citations
  • Formatting APA Headings and Subheadings
  • Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition
  • What's the Preferred Way to Write the Abbreviation for United States?
  • Margin (Composition Format) Definition
  • MLA Bibliography or Works Cited
  • APA In-Text Citations

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West Liberty University

Honors College

Apply to the Honors College

Senior Research Project

Honors college senior research project.

In order to graduate with honors from West Liberty University, a student must complete an Honors College Senior Research Project. The project consists of original, independent research undertaken with a faculty advisor. This work is designed to be a defining accomplishment of an honors undergraduate education, serving as an example of one’s finest academic work. It provides a showcase for one’s past endeavors, while in many cases also serving as a transition to post-graduate education or other career goals.

Thesis vs. Project

All senior honors work requires research in a subject area pertaining to the student’s coursework and the use of scholarly sources. It can involve significant primary research or can produce an applied product or creative work. Accordingly, one may opt to complete senior honors work in the form of a thesis or a project. The product of the Honors Thesis is a substantial paper, written in the model of a professional paper in that field. A thesis is often around 12-15 pages, but varying by project and discipline. The Honors Project culminates in an applied endeavor. However, it also includes a written component that documents 1) the context and impact of the work, 2) the procedures used by the student, and 3) scholarly sources that informed the project. Some examples of suitable projects include:

  • a mathematical proof
  • a public performance
  • a work of art
  • a computer program
  • a marketing campaign
  • an instructional / pedagogical design

For examples of previous Honors Research Projects, refer to the Honors College website.

Project Guidelines

The Senior Research Project is designed with great flexibility. The student will decide what to investigate and how to best present it. Whatever form the research project takes, it must meet certain criteria. The research need not be in the student’s major field of study, but it must be related to the student’s academic coursework. It must be original research, although it can build off of work done for a class or capstone project. A student cannot receive both honors credit and other course/project credit (e.g. a capstone) for the same work. An honors project that overlaps with capstone work must clearly delineate the components done solely for honors credit.

While some honors project work may be completed prior to one’s senior year, the student must register for HON 498 during one semester of senior year. 2

  Planning the Senior Honors Project

Students are responsible for finding and developing a topic for the project. The senior work should build upon questions and areas of interest that have been identified during undergraduate study. Consider keeping a journal of interests and questions throughout major and minor coursework. Despite the name, the project is not limited to senior year, and many students begin research prior to their senior year. Keep in mind that projects are time consuming and often have unanticipated delays and complications. Planning ahead is essential to a successful, fulfilling project.

Be advised that research involving human subjects must receive approval from the Human Subjects Committee. Information about the committee and its submission protocol can be found here: https://westliberty.edu/college-of-sciences/human-subjects-committee/

Senior Honors Research Project Timeline

Once an honors research project topic has been identified, students will take the following steps to carry out the research:

Step 1 – Determine the best time to carry out the work. Honors College students must enroll in HON 498 in either fall or spring of their senior year. Although work can be done outside this semester, the course will represent the primary time of work on the research project. HON 498 is a workshop that guides the completion of the project, and it may be taken for 1–3 honors credit hours. The course is offered by arrangement and by permission of the Honors College. Students must contact the Honors College Research Coordinator in order to be enrolled in the course.

Step 2 – Find a faculty advisor. Once a topic area is identified, find a faculty member in that field of study to discuss the idea with. This contact should take place no later than the semester prior to primary research semester. The Honors College Research Coordinator is also available for discussion and consultation. The Coordinator can provide feedback and assistance in finding a faculty advisor who is knowledgeable in the subject area.

Step 3 – Write a research project proposal. The deadline for the research proposal will occur, at the latest, in the beginning of the HON 498 semester. The proposal will be a 1-2 page single-spaced document that provides the following types of information:

a) The aims of the project and the thesis/hypothesis to be investigated b) The nature of the existing research on this topic, or a preliminary bibliography c) The proposed means for carrying out the research, including materials and research methods d) Whether it will take the form of a thesis or a project e) A timeline for the completion of the work f) A working title for the project

Step 4 – The proposal must be approved by both the faculty advisor and the Honors College Research Coordinator. The faculty advisor will provide feedback and approval prior 3 to assessment and approval by the Honors College. Upon approval, an Honors Research Project Agreement will be signed by the student, faculty advisor, and Coordinator.

Step 5 – During the course of completing the project, the student should have occasional meetings with the faculty advisor to review drafts and discuss the status of the project. Keep in mind that projects often encounter unforeseen delays, and regular meetings help to keep the project on track. In HON 498, additional deadlines and meetings will be set to encourage timely completion of the project.

Step 6 – Research projects must be deemed satisfactory to meet the research project requirements by both the faculty advisor and Honors College Research Coordinator. Approval will be documented on the Honors Research Project Agreement form. Make sure to leave enough time at the end of the semester for the project to be approved and proper signatures gathered.

Step 7 – After receiving approval in Step 6, research projects must be officially submitted to the Honors College by email. Submission must occur prior to the end of finals week in the semester of graduation.

Research Project Presentation and Awards

In addition to submission of the research project, students are expected to present their work in a format to be designated by the Honors College. Typically this will include an Honors College Research Project presentation event, scheduled near the end of the academic year, and it will include poster or brief oral presentations. Select research projects may also be asked to present their work at a meeting of the Honors College.

The Honors College will present a Senior Research Project award to recognize outstanding work on the research project. The recipient of the award(s) will be decided by the Honors Council. To be eligible for the award, research projects must be submitted for award consideration by April 1 of the student’s final year. The winner of the award may be asked to provide an additional presentation of the research project at a forum to be determined by the Dean of the Honors College.

Students are allowed (and encouraged!) to submit work from the Senior Research Projects to other organizations, such as academic conferences, Alpha Chi, or graduate school applications.

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The Senior Essay or Senior Thesis

Every student who completes the major in Comparative Studies writes a senior essay or a thesis.  The essay or the thesis is completed in CS 4990, “Senior Seminar,” a writing workshop offered every Spring in which students share drafts, present their work orally, and receive detailed feedback from their peers. 

You may choose between two options:

  • The Senior Essay , usually between 12 to 15 pages, written largely during the semester you take CS 4990, though often building on earlier class work.
  • The Senior Thesis , which requires a semester of CS 4999 or 4999H (usually taken autumn of senior year; that is, ideally before the spring term you plan to graduate), “Undergraduate Thesis” or “Honors Thesis,” working closely with a professor who you select to serve as advisor to your thesis. This option is usually between 25 to 40 pages. Students who choose to write a Senior Thesis may plan to fulfill the requirements for either “Research Distinction” or “Honors Research Distinction" . Details on these options are offered below.

Whichever is chosen, the senior research project serves as a capstone experience for students in the major, and results in a piece of original work that can be shared with the Comparative Studies community.  The essay or thesis may also be valuable as a writing sample if students apply to graduate or professional schools, or pursue a wide range of careers that value individual initiative and effective communication.

The Process: What You Need to Know to Get Started

Both the senior essay and the thesis require some advance planning, though the timeline for the thesis is typically longer.  If you choose to write the senior essay, you should have selected a paper to revise and expand, or else identified a topic for a new research paper, no later than the semester  before  you enroll in COMPSTD 4990.  You will need to submit your draft or proposal for a first round of peer review early in Spring semester. 

If you choose to write the thesis, you should have identified a topic and an advisor by the start of Autumn term of your senior year (some students choose a topic in the Spring of junior year and begin work in the summer) so you can enroll in COMPSTD 4999/4999H and begin your research.

In either case, take note that prior to enrolling in COMPSTD 4990, you'll have already taken the required 4000-level course (all of which require the completion of a research paper). The research paper written for that course often provides / may provide the paper that you choose to use for the senior essay or the senior thesis option.

Whether you write the senior essay or the thesis, nothing is more important than the choice of a topic.  It should be something that engages you, that sparks your curiosity or imagination, and that has stakes that matter to you.   But it should also be a topic of manageable scale, one that can adequately be explored in the time available to you.  Your faculty advisor can help you to shape your project at the outset, and to make any necessary adjustments along the way.

No formal advisor is required for the senior essay.  If you choose to revise and expand an earlier paper (such as the one you would have written for your 4000-level research course), you may want to reconnect with the instructor for whom you wrote the original.  They may be willing to serve as an informal advisor as you undertake your revisions.  If choosing a new topic, you may wish to speak with a professor in the department or on our affiliated faculty with expertise in the subject matter.  Each of you also has your own faculty advisor with whom you can confer, as well as the professor who will be teaching COMPSTD 4990.

If you write a thesis you must have a formal thesis advisor; you may also elect to have a co-advisor. They will supervise any thesis research courses you take (COMPSTD 4999), the writing of the thesis itself, and the oral exam at the end of the process. This might be the same person as your faculty advisor but it need not be. You should choose someone with whom you are comfortable (usually because you have been in a class together before) and who has enough knowledge of the subject matter to guide your work. You may wish to speak informally with more than one professor before making a final decision.

Senior Essay or Thesis?

If you choose to write the senior essay you will complete most of the work of research and writing during the Spring semester of your senior year, while enrolled in CS 4990, “Senior Seminar.”  You may either revise and expand a paper you wrote for another course (usually, but not always, a course in Comparative Studies), or begin and complete a research paper on a new topic.  Senior essays vary in length, but are typically around 12–15 pages (and sometimes longer if they are expanded versions of earlier essays).

If you who choose to write a thesis you will typically begin working on it during the Autumn semester of senior year (and sometimes during the preceding summer) by enrolling in CS 4999 or 4999H (“Undergraduate Thesis” or “Honors Thesis”).  You will then complete the writing while enrolled in CS 4990, “Senior Seminar.”  Theses vary considerably in length, but are typically between 25 and 40 pages.  The thesis process also includes an oral "defense" (really more like a conversation about the completed work with your advisor and one or more other faculty members).  If you choose the thesis option you may be eligible to graduate with “Research Distinction” or “Honors Research Distinction.”

To graduate with Research Distinction in Comparative Studies or with Research Distinction (if the thesis is completed in another discipline), you must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete a minimum of 60 graded credit hours at Ohio State
  • Graduate with minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Students intending to graduate at the end of Autumn term: Application due no later than the first Friday of the previous February
  • Students intending to graduate at the end of the Spring term: Application due no later than the first Friday of the previous October
  • Students intending to graduate at the end of the Summer term: Application due by the first Friday of December
  • Complete at least 4 credit hours of COMPSTD 4999 (these may be spread over more than one term)
  • Complete and successfully defend the thesis during an oral examination

For a more detailed list of instructions, see:  https://artsandsciences.osu.edu/academics/current-students/advising-academics/graduation

If you are in the Honors Program you may graduate with Honors Research Distinction in Comparative Studies or with Honors Research Distinction (if the thesis is completed in another discipline) by meeting the following requirements:

  • Be enrolled in the ASC Honors Program and complete an approved Honors Contract
  • Graduate with minimum GPA of 3.4
  • Submit “Undergraduate Thesis Application” to the ASC Honors Office upon enrolling in COMPSTD 4999H, or no later than the 3rd Friday of the semester you intend to graduate
  • Complete at least 4 credit hours of COMPSTD 4999H (may be spread over more than one term)

For a more detailed list of instructions, see:  https://aschonors.osu.edu/honors/research-thesis

Other Useful Information

There are several sources of funding for undergraduate research.  Arts and Sciences awards two kinds of scholarships on a competitive basis each academic year; each requires a letter of support from an academic advisor, and preference is given to students planning to write a thesis. Undergraduate Research Scholarships range from $500 to $12,000.  Applications for a given academic year are due in early February of the preceding year.  International Research Grants provide up to $4,000 for research-related travel abroad for students in Arts and Sciences.  There are two application cycles per academic year.  For more information, see:  http://aschonors.osu.edu/opportunities/scholarships/undergrad .

The Division of Arts and Humanities provides Undergraduate Research Small Grants (up to $500) to help fund travel to things like conferences, research collections, and exhibitions and to purchase materials for research or creative activity.  The Aida Cannarsa Endowment Fund offers grants of $500 to $3,000 to students in arts and humanities, with priority given to those with demonstrated financial need.  Applications for both are reviewed twice a year.

See:  https://artsandsciences.osu.edu/academics/current-students/scholarships-grants/research .

There may be additional sources of funding, on and off campus, for particular kinds of projects.  You should consult with your advisor and the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Please note that research funding involving human subjects may require prior IRB approval .

Every Spring, there are opportunities for Comparative Studies students to present the results of their research, whether they choose to write the senior essay or the thesis.  The Richard J. and Martha D. Denman Undergraduate Research Forum is a university-wide showcase of undergraduate work that awards prizes by areas of interest (for example, Humanities).  There is a competitive abstract submission process in January, and a day devoted to presentations in late March.  Though most of the forum involves poster presentations, Humanities majors give brief oral presentations (8-10 minutes) on their work to faculty judges.

In April, the Department of Comparative Studies hosts its own Undergraduate Research Colloquium.  Working closely with their advisor, students prepare and submit paper abstracts in February—300 words or fewer that describe the project’s central questions, methodologies, theoretical framework, and (tentative) conclusions.  Students may choose to give a 10-minute presentation on work in progress or a 20-minute presentation on completed work (by April everyone enrolled in 4990 should be ready to give a presentation).  This is a more relaxed atmosphere, with an audience of your peers and friends, as well as faculty and graduate students in the department.

Autumn of senior year

  • Choose a topic

Spring of senior year

  • Enroll in COMPSTD 4990, “Senior Seminar”

Spring of junior year

  • Identify an advisor

Summer between junior and senior years (optional)

  • Enroll in COMPSTD 4998 or 4998H, “Undergraduate Research in Comparative Studies” (2 credits)
  • Submit “Application for Graduation with Research Distinction” or “Undergraduate Thesis Application”
  • Enroll in COMPSTD 4999, “Undergraduate Thesis” or 4999H, “Honors Thesis” (2 credits)
  • Enroll in Enroll in COMPSTD 4999, “Undergraduate Thesis” or 4999H, “Honors Thesis” (2 credits)

Additional Information

  • You can find copies of undergraduate theses online at the OSU Knowledge Bank:  https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/handle/1811/134 .
  • Further information on undergraduate research opportunities is available at:  http://www.undergraduateresearch.osu.edu/ .

Independent Work & Thesis

The Department offers a remarkable opportunity for students to engage in an independent program in invention, development, and/or research on a topic of their choice. All students are required to complete at least one semester of Independent Work .   ( Independent Work Guidelines ).  Independent Work, Senior Thesis or Senior Project must be taken at the senior level in order to fulfill the department's Independent Work requirement.  All projects must include engineering design.  Design is defined as devising a system, component, or process to meet desired needs.   MAE 439, 440, 442 or 444 may also partially satisfy a Design requirement. Independent projects enable one to utilize, and to transcend, classroom learning by applying creativity, coupled with the scientific background acquired from classes, toward a challenging project. Year-long senior independent projects may constitute a Senior Thesis , and students are strongly encouraged to consider this option. The result of such self-motivated activity has frequently led to publications and design patents.

Students have the opportunity to to work on a topic which a Faculty advisor is pursuing and this close collaboration will frequently also involve interaction with graduate students studying the same problem. An aspect of the program is to facilitate bringing together as many scientific and nonscientific elements as necessary to pursue a topic; consequently, faculty advisors are not limited to just those within the MAE department. Advisors can be from any relevant engineering or science department and can also co-advise on the problem. This opportunity is often cited by students as the highlight of their four year experience at Princeton. In the words of Joseph Campbell "You can follow your own bliss."

The topics include:

  • Applied Physics and Lasers
  • Computational Engineering
  • Energy and the Environment
  • Fluid Mechanics and Combustion
  • Ground, Air, and Space Vehicles and Transportation
  • Humans and Machines, Components and Controls

Materials and Biomaterials

Juniors are invited to participate in the program although it will not satisfy their departmental requirement. Their efforts culminate in an in- depth exploration of topical challenges in society, using technology to address the needs of the world.

A high number of independent work students collect nationally recognized awards and honors, including fellowships and scholarships such as Marshall Scholarships , Rhodes Scholarships , and Churchill Scholarships as well as winning competitions with their independent work.

The independent project provides the opportunity to address real-world issues beyond academia through the development of a solution or improvement to society. Furthermore, this opportunity encourages learning how to present ideas to the public. This is an essential element of a technical education and is central to taking concepts further than the academic laboratory and having them recognized as useful.

The following are some examples of recent student projects:

Aero/Astro Engineering

The Guardian: Unmanned Seaplane for Coastal Search and Rescue - S. Bonar, E. Carlson, E. Jung, P. Na, K Skinner (Advisor - Martinelli)

Analysis and Development of a Low-Order Wavefront Sensor for Exoplanet Detection Applications - K. Cavanagh (Advisor - Kasdin)

The Ferrofluid Deformable Mirror Concept - D. Chen (Advisor - Kasdin)

Conceptual Design of a Mobile Platform for Venus Atmospheric Study - J. Davis (Advisor - Martinelli)

Design of a Shape Memory Alloy Actuated Morphing Wing - T. DeVoe (Advisor - Martinelli)

Stability Augmentation of an Oblique Wing RC Aircraft - R. Johnson, D. Santillan (Advisor - Rowley)

Fluid Mechanics and Computational Fluid Dynamics

Harnessing Tidal Energy: Experimental Analysis of Optimal Contraction Ratios for Velocity Augmentation Through a Vertical Axis Tidal Turbine in a Stratford Constriction - S. Gupta, E. Materniak, R. Waguespack (Advisor - Smits)

Towards Turbulent Drag Reduction on a Superhydrophobic Aluminum SLIPS Surface - K. Wang (Advisor Hultmark/Smits)

Energy and Environment

Soot Evolution in Turbulent Reacting Flows: Refining the Mesh for Bluff Body Ethylene Flames - L. Baldwin (Advisor - Mueller)

Acoustic Tuning of the Intake and Exhaust Systems of a 4-Stroke Motorcycle Engine - N. Brauser (Advisor - Littman)

The Design and Development of Three Low Cost Devices to Analyze the Characteristics of Batteries - D.Davies (Advisor - Steingart)

Design of a Low-Cost Frequency Response Analyzer for Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy - G. Grossman (Advisor - Steingart)

Measurement of the Thrust-Specific Fuel Consumption of a Small-Scale Jet Engine - K. Jones (Advisor - Martinelli)

Overcoming Barriers for International Development and Poverty Reduction: Engineering an Environmentally-Sustainable, Economic-Development Project in Sub-Saharan Africa - K. Oneil (Advisor - Van der Vink-Geosciences)

Weakly Buoyant Spherical Diffusion Flames: Properties of Hydrogen-CO/Ethylene Flames - L. Paxton (Advisor - Law)

Ultrasonic Transducers for Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Studies - S. Alberti (Advisor - McAlpine)

Mechanical Properties of Lithium-Ion Battery Separators - C. Leng (Advisor - Arnold)

3D Printed Biocapacitors for Sensing and Actuation - I. Trase (Advisor - McAlpine)

Humans, Machines, Components, and Controls

The Magic of Motion Simulation: The Design and Fabrication of a Model Stewart Platform Capable of Replicating Real-World Accelerations - J. Adelson (Advisor - Kasdin)

Workplace Design for the Disabled: Modifying an Assembly Sequence - B. Aktas (Advisor - Stone)

Asteroid Exploratory Robot (AER) - A. Boohene, D. Newill-Smith, T. Trieu (Advisor - Stengel)

Active Control for a Riderless Bicycle - D. Chin (Advisor - Rowley)

Design of a Jigsaw-Puzzle-Solving Robot - B. Fisher (Advisor - Stengel)

The Hyperloop: A Top-Down Systems Engineering Evaluation of the Technical and Economic Feasibility - B. Hallin (Advisor - D. Nosenchuck)

L'Arrivee D'un Train en gare de Princeton Junction: Multiple Sweet Spot Binaural 3D Audio for Active Stereoscopic 3D Video - K. Hochgraf (Advisor - Choueiri)

Surpassing the Age of the Pitcher: Design for a Higher-Precision Baseball Pitching Machine - M Kelley (Advisor - Nosenchuck)

No Force Necessary: Turning on the Targeting Computer with Polynomial Trajectory Estimation and Quadcopter Control - T. Matchen (Advisor - Holmes)

An Introduction to Electronics for Advanced High School Students - S. Modi (Advisor - Littman)

Moving an Immovable Limb: Prototyping a Low-Cost Simplified Robotic Exoskeletal Arm Mobility Aid - C. Odabashian (Advisor - Littman)

The Effect of a Flywheel on the Stability of a Riderless Bicycle - K. O'Neil (Advisor - Arnold)

Growing Closer Aeroponic System - W. Tinsman (Advisor - Nosenchuck)

Bicycle Shimmy: An Analytical and Experimental Inquiry - N. Tyrell (Advisor - Rowley)

Applied Physics/Plasma Physics

Characterization of Thermal Desorption from Hydrogen-Carbon Co-Deposition Layers for Fusion Applications via Crystal Microbalance Measurements with Gallium Orthophosphate Crystals - A. Creely (Advisor Jaworski-PPPL)

Generation of the Magnetic Null Field Topography in a Novel Electric Propulsion Proof-of-Concept - C. Kelly (Advisor - Choueiri)

Computational Investigation of the Magentic Nozzle - A. Macdonagh (Advisor - Choueiri)

An Approach to Cell Characterization for Filtered Rayleigh Scattering Used in High Speed Flow Diagnostics - J. Shim (Advisor - Miles)  

Do you need technical help for your Thesis or Independent Work?

The following Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering staff are available to provide any technical assistance you my require with Independent Work Projects. Do not hesitate to utilize their help.

Manufacturing, Machine Shop Fabrication of Parts

Glenn Northey [email protected] Office: Machine Shop Phone: 8-4758  

Electronic and Technical Support Laboratories

Mike Vocaturo [email protected] Office: J209 Phone: 8-5236 Jonathan Prevost [email protected] Office: C131 Phone: 8-2726   

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  • Dissertation vs Thesis: Your 2023 Guide

Chriselle Sy

If you’ve been thinking about going to graduate school, you may be familiar with the application requirements, rigorous academic schedule, and thesis or dissertation you’ll be expected to complete. So, what exactly is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation? While there are similarities, there’s a clear difference between the two. In our guide, we compare dissertation vs thesis. Discover more about both – and what you can expect during your graduate program. Let’s get started!

  • Table of Contents

What Is a Thesis?

A thesis is an academic paper or project that’s completed towards the end of a master’s degree program . It is typically completed as the capstone project , meaning it’s the final project required for a student to graduate.

Students need to select a narrow, specific topic within – or relating to – their field of study. Once they’ve selected a topic, students must conduct an in-depth review of existing research on their chosen subjects. The next step is to formulate an academic argument, an assertion they’ll need to support or prove with said research.

Therefore, a thesis is akin to an in-depth research paper. It’s comprised of research that essentially proves what a student has learned during their program.

What Is a Typical Thesis Structure?

A thesis generally follows a rigid structure that’s decided by the program, department, or university. Here is an example of a thesis structure:

  • The Title Page
  • Summary of Thesis Abstract
  • Table of Maps and Figures
  • The Thesis Body (Sometimes divided into chapters)
  • The Results or Conclusion

Who Needs to Complete a Thesis?

Most master’s degree programs require students to complete a thesis. While some undergraduate programs may also require a thesis, these are generally shorter and narrower in scope.

Some programs will also require a master’s student to defend their thesis in front of a panel or committee.

What Is a Dissertation?

What is “the PhD paper” called? Some people refer to it as a PhD thesis, but it’s most commonly known as a dissertation in the US. Dissertations are the capstone project required at the tail end of a PhD program . It is almost always required, except for a select few one-year PhD programs .

Much like a thesis, dissertations are also academic papers that aim to prove a student’s expertise – while adding to the current body of knowledge – in their field. Thus, a student must look at existing research and conduct their own research .

senior project vs thesis

Basically, it’s the magnum opus of a doctoral journey in the United States. A dissertation isn’t just a long research paper; it’s a beast of a project. It demands extensive research, originality, and the ability to make a meaningful contribution to your chosen field. Think of it as a research odyssey guided by a seasoned mentor. Once you’ve conquered this scholarly quest and defended your findings, you’ll proudly emerge with your hard-earned doctoral degree, a testament to your dedication and scholarly prowess.

A dissertation typically comes after a PhD student completes their required courses and passes their qualifying exams. In some programs, the dissertation process is embedded into the coursework. In such cases, students receive a jump start on their work, allowing them to potentially finish their program earlier.

What Does a Dissertation Do?

PhD candidates must present a new theory or hypothesis. Alternatively, they must present their research to question (or disprove) the existing accepted theory on their chosen subject. Students may choose to tackle their topic from a new angle or take their research in a different direction.

Most programs will require students to defend their dissertations. During the defense, candidates must be able to justify the methodology of their research and the results and interpretation of their findings. Defenses are typically oral presentations in front of a dissertation committee , where the students are asked questions or presented with challenges.

Although the defense may seem daunting, PhD students work closely with their advisors to prepare for their dissertations. Students receive feedback and advice to guide their dissertations in their chosen direction.

What Is the Typical Dissertation Structure? 

Dissertations follow a rigid structure typically set by the program, department, or university. Here is an example format:

  • The Acknowledgments Page
  • The Abstract
  • Introduction
  • The Literature Review & Theoretical Framework
  • The Methodology
  • Findings/Results
  • Discussions of the Findings, including analysis, interpretation, and applications
  • The Conclusion
  • List of References
  • Any Appendices

What Is a Doctoral Thesis?

A doctoral thesis is a substantial piece of scholarly work that marks the pinnacle of a doctoral degree program, such as a PhD. Think of it as the academic grand finale. Its primary mission? To showcase the candidate’s mastery in their chosen field and their knack for delving deep into research.

senior project vs thesis

In a nutshell, a doctoral thesis is a mammoth project that calls for originality. You’ve got to dig, investigate, gather data, crunch numbers, and present real data-supported findings. All this hard work usually happens under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable mentor. Once you’ve conquered this scholarly mountain and defended your thesis successfully, you’ll be proudly awarded your well-deserved doctoral degree. It’s the hallmark of your expertise and contribution to your field.

And how does a doctoral thesis differ from a dissertation? That’s mainly a geographic explanation. While they’re largely similar in scope and purpose, when comparing a doctoral thesis vs. a dissertation:

  • A dissertation is the PhD capstone requirement in the US .
  • A doctoral thesis is the PhD capstone requirement in Europe .

Related Reading: The Easiest PhDs

Dissertation vs. Thesis: The Similarities

In the master’s thesis vs dissertation discussion, there are plenty of similarities. Both are lengthy academic papers that require intense research and original writing. They’re also capstone projects which are completed at the tail end of their respective programs.

Students must work closely with their respective committees (e.g., faculty members, advisors, professionals) who provide feedback and guidance on their research, writing, and academic arguments. Both thesis and dissertation committees have a committee chair with whom the students work closely.

In some ways, the requirements for theses and dissertations are quite similar. They require a skillful defense of a student’s academic arguments. What’s more, both papers require critical thinking and good analytical reasoning, as well as in-depth expertise in the chosen field of study.

Students must also invest a significant amount of time into both projects while also being able to accept and action feedback on their work.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: The Differences

What are the differences between a PhD dissertation vs. thesis? The first and most distinct difference is the degree program requiring a PhD dissertation or thesis. A dissertation is typically the capstone project for a doctorate, while a thesis is the capstone project for a master’s degree program (or undergraduate program).

Candidates will have to defend their dissertation during an oral presentation in front of their committee. Only some master’s theses require this.

During a thesis, students typically conduct research by reviewing existing literature and knowledge on their chosen subject. During a dissertation, students must do their own research and prove their theory, concept, or hypothesis. They should also expect to develop a unique concept and defend it based on the practical and theoretical results achieved from their rigorous research.

Theses are also typically shorter (around 40 to 80 pages). Dissertations, however, are much longer (between 100 and 300 pages). Of course, the actual length of the paper may depend on the topic, program, department, or university.

Related Reading : PhD Candidate vs Student: What’s the Difference? 

Dissertations and Theses: US vs. Europe

Whether you’re in the US or Europe, dissertations and theses are similar. However, European requirements and conventions differ slightly:

Doctoral Thesis

To ensure your PhD graduation, a dissertation is generally required. Doctoral theses in Europe are much like a PhD dissertation in the US : You must complete your own research and add to the existing body of knowledge in your field.

Master’s Dissertation

It may seem odd to require a dissertation for master’s degree programs, but in Europe, this is exactly what you’ll need. A master’s dissertation is a broader post-graduate program research project , though it’s most typically required for master’s programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few of the most common questions we hear about the meaning of thesis vs. dissertation.

Is a Thesis and a Dissertation the Same?

Yes and no. In some ways, a dissertation and a thesis are the same. For example, both require original writing, critical skills, analytical thinking, plenty of research, and lots of academic effort. However, a thesis is more commonly reserved for master’s – and some undergraduate – programs. Dissertations are generally required by PhD programs in the United States.

Additionally, a thesis typically calls for heavy research and compilation of existing knowledge and literature on a subject. A dissertation requires candidates to conduct their own research to prove their own theory, concept, or hypothesis – adding to the existing body of knowledge in their chosen field of study.

How Long Is a Thesis vs. a Dissertation?

One of the primary differences between thesis and dissertation papers is their length. While a thesis might be anywhere from 40 to 80 pages long, a dissertation can easily run from 100 to 300. It’s important to note that these numbers depend on the specific program and university.

Does a PhD Require a Thesis or a Dissertation?

It all depends on where you are! While a US-based PhD requires you to complete a dissertation, a thesis (or “doctoral thesis”) is more commonly required for PhD candidates in Europe. In the US, a thesis is more commonly reserved for master’s degree programs and occasionally undergraduate programs. In Europe, a “master’s dissertation” is typically required for the completion of a master’s degree.

So, there you have it: an in-depth comparison of the dissertation vs. thesis academic requirements. Now that you know the primary similarities and differences between the two, it might become easier to decide your academic path. Just remember, you may be able to find a master’s program without a thesis or a doctorate without a dissertation requirement if you prefer. Good luck!

Are you ready to jump into your doctorate? Find out if you need a master’s degree to get a PhD .

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What Is A Senior Thesis And How To Write It?

senior thesis

First, what is senior thesis? A senior thesis is a written project where you use different hypotheses, theory, argument, or creative thinking. It is usual practice for most students to take this project work in the senior year of college or high school.

A senior thesis tends to be more demanding than a research paper in terms of the amount of work and the length of the write-up. However, it is less than the work required for any Master’s thesis.

Is a Senior Thesis Required?

It is understandable to want to know if a senior thesis is required. I mean, anyone would want to know just how important it is before choosing to dedicate much time to it.

Well, a senior thesis is not compulsory in every college/university, and neither is it compulsory for every course of study.

In general, you can write a senior thesis if you have an overall GPA of 3.2, are ending your junior year, and meet your departmental requirements. If a senior thesis is not a requirement for completing your degree, you may decide to write one for several reasons. Some benefits are:

  • It will look good on your resume
  • It will give you an opportunity for some independent research
  • You get some experience managing your project, etc.

If you cannot commit to finishing a senior thesis, then you shouldn’t start it. But if you would like to write one, then we’ve got lots of senior thesis topics and ideas for you! You will also get to learn how to write a senior thesis in this article!

How To Write a Senior Thesis

Writing a senior thesis can be a lot easier if you know what to do. First, you need to choose the right adviser, select a topic you would like to work on, write a proposal, and get approved. Here are some things you need to know about writing your senior thesis.

A thesis proposal is a short overview of what your senior thesis papers will look like. This document carries detailed descriptions of your senior thesis topic. Your thesis proposal can be between 1 to 5 pages long and should carry any relevant information. The proposal will also carry a list of books you’ve used or that you intend to use during the writing of your senior thesis.

The length of a senior thesis may vary depending on several reasons. The senior thesis length can be dependent on strict specifications by the college. Your senior thesis may be between 10,000 to 20,000 words long.

The senior honors thesis is a 6-credit final thesis that you must present as a written formal document. The senior thesis title page, also known as the cover page, is the page that carries, at first glance, details of the project. The information on this page includes the thesis title, name of the student, name of college, name of supervisor, etc.

The senior thesis defense is an avenue created for faculty and examiners to ask you about your research work. You are to tell them the outcome of the research to the point when you’re asked. The questions center around what you have in your senior thesis paper, so ensure you have remarkable up-to-date information at every point.

Senior Thesis Topic

It is essential that you find excellent senior thesis topics. Finding these excellent topics is the pain point for many students. Well, we are here to help you with some senior thesis topics.

Checking out past senior thesis topics can also set you on the right path earlier in your research. For example, if you are a student writing a CMC senior thesis, senior thesis UF, senior thesis Princeton, or yale senior thesis, you can search for award-winning senior thesis topics. These topics can give you an idea of topics that may best suit your purposes. Never forget that you should always choose topics that you find interesting. Here are some history senior thesis topics that you can choose from:

  • Yankees of the East: 20th Century America
  • History of the German Ford Motor Company
  • How women saw themselves in the Jazz Age
  • The Emergence of Great Societies
  • The roles of women post WWII

Get A Senior Thesis Example

Looking through some senior thesis examples can help you easily get the hang of what a senior thesis looks like. You can also request past projects from senior friends and colleagues, as this can significantly reduce the stress on you.

Senior Thesis Format

Now, I’ll give you a working senior thesis format. If you want an excellent and well-written thesis, you can follow the senior thesis outline given below. Here is an outline according to the guidelines for writing UF senior thesis or Princeton senior thesis.

In this chapter, you have to discuss the significance and purpose of the thesis. Also, you should state what you hope to achieve by the work.

Here, you will discuss the theory behind your research work. This chapter discusses past theoretical works that are related to your research.

This chapter explains how you intend to gather your data. Here, you state the method and experiments you followed to arrive at your results. It would help if you also described the analysis of your data. This must be done conscientiously.

This chapter addresses the findings from your experiments and data analysis only. You begin by listing out the types of tests taken and the outcome. You can use tables and charts to illustrate numeric results as the case may be.

Here you don’t just restate your findings, but you expatiate on the deductions you made from your findings. This chapter answers the “so what?” question. This is not a section to mince words when you explain what the results mean to the theory.

Include all references at the end of work.

Senior Thesis Ideas

There are many fields and sources to get senior thesis topic ideas from. These fields include health, technology, social media, education, religion, music, environment, etc. If you want to do a UF psychology senior thesis research, for example, these are some senior thesis psychology topics you can explore.

  • The deep-seated reasons for discrimination and prejudice
  • Personal perception and social cognition
  • Marketing, propaganda, and persuasion
  • Eating behaviors and outlook about life
  • Phobias and antisocial behaviors
  • Group therapy profile
  • False memories and dreams.

Graphic Design Senior Thesis

When you become a senior in the Graphic Design Program at your institution, you can choose a social or personal problem to address through a design problem-solving technique or process. It may take you a semester or session to complete this work, so you have to start early enough. After completing the thesis, you can showcase your work and experience an exhibition. Don’t forget to put in your best effort.

High School Senior Thesis

The high school senior thesis is a document of at least 2,000 words written by high school seniors. This exercise usually strengthens research capabilities. Some high school senior thesis topics may include:

  • A documentary on a place
  • Learning about programming
  • Research about the nature of colors and lots more.

In conclusion, when you’ve decided to write a senior thesis, the best thing to do is segment your work into small doable bits. Also, you need to schedule your time so that you can complete the thesis in due time or contact professional thesis writers . We wish you good luck!

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Best Senior Thesis Topics

31 May 2023

Senior thesis topics are research projects students undertake in their final year of undergraduate studies or graduate programs. These senior thesis topics allow students to demonstrate their expertise in academic writing.

School senior thesis topics can cover a wide range of disciplines. This spans science and humanities to social sciences and engineering. All of these allow students to explore their academic interests in depth and make valuable contributions to their respective fields against any grade stereotypes or even gender stereotypes.

With a thousand ideas, it may be hard to nail a good topic. This article covers a series of college and high school senior thesis topics for different subjects.

Key Points:

  • School senior thesis topics allow students to dig deep into a specific study area within their chosen field. 
  • A strong senior thesis topic can potentially make a valuable impact on the academic community and shape future research in the field.

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The Importance Of A Good Senior Thesis Topics

Well-selected senior thesis topics capture the interest of the student and hold significance in their field of study. This is important for the following reasons.

Firstly, well-chosen school senior thesis topics provide students with an opportunity to explore a specific area of study. This fosters a sense of ownership and engagement with the research process. These personal investment projects enhance motivation and dedication, resulting in a higher quality of work. However, not every student had the luxury of time. In case you have a question like, who can write my thesis , there are professional platforms that can render such a service. With 24/7 customer support and experienced writers, for you to write a thesis becomes so easy.

Secondly, good high school senior thesis topics enable students to make original contributions to their field by conducting research, analyzing data, and generating new insights. This can lead to advancements in knowledge and potential solutions to existing problems.

Lastly, a strong senior thesis topic demonstrates students' ability to think critically and develop analytical skills. It requires formulating search questions, designing methods, and interpreting complex data. These processes cultivate intellectual maturity, problem-solving abilities, and effective communication skills.

Tips On How To Select The Best Senior Thesis Topic?

Selecting the best high school senior thesis topic requires a thoughtful and systematic approach. With numerous options available, it is important to consider the topic selection process carefully. Nonetheless, you can buy thesis paper pieces online if you cannot spare that much time for the steps involved, with professors available to help. Listed below are some tips to help you choose the best senior thesis topics.

1. Identify your interests and passions

Choose topics in the subjects that excite you and the areas of study that keep you on your toes. This will keep you energetic throughout the search process and increase the worth of your work.

2. Consider the scope and feasibility of the topic

Ensure that the topic is manageable within the given timeframe and aligns with the resources and expertise available to you. It is essential to strike a balance between a topic that is challenging enough to showcase your abilities and one that is realistic and achievable.

3. Seek guidance from your professors and advisors

They possess valuable expertise and can provide insights into potential research areas or suggest topics based on your academic strengths. They can also provide ideas on how to write a thesis for research paper pieces - a crucial aspect of research writing. Engage in discussions with them to receive feedback and better understand the viability and relevance of your topic ideas.

Good Senior Thesis Topics

The right thesis topic showcases a student's expertise and passion and sets the stage for a quality research experience. 

However, the steps of choosing a senior thesis topic can be overwhelming. Below is a curated list of topic ideas for your next project.

  • The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Job Automation: Analyzing the Effect on Employment Trends.
  • Accessing the Effects of Plastics in the Evolution of Marine Ecology
  • A Closer Look at the Relationship Between Social Media Usage and Mental Health Outcomes.
  • Exploring the Thin Line Between Genetic Engineering and Moral Ethics
  • A Case Study on the Impact of Climate Change on Ecological Biodiversity 
  • Analyzing the Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives on Consumer Behavior and Brand Perception.
  • Exploring the Intersection of Gender and Leadership: A Comparative Study of Leadership Styles and Organizational Performance.
  • Investigating the Psychological Effects of Virtual Reality: Examining its Potential in Therapy and Mental Health Treatment.
  • Assessing the Impacts of Global Warming Policies on Energy Transition: Case Studies from Different Countries.
  • Exploring the Representation of Race and Identity in Contemporary Literature: Comparative Analysis of Works by Diverse Authors.

Senior Thesis Topics For High School And College Students

When it comes to selecting senior thesis topics, both high school and college students are faced with a challenge. This challenge is finding a subject that aligns with academic interests and demonstrates their research abilities. 

An important point to remember is to seek help from your professors. They provide valuable advice on questions like - how to finish my thesis and strategic planning to craft a good one if you feel unsure. Listed are some popular topics for both college and high school senior thesis.

  • The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health: An Analysis of the Relationship between Social Media Usage and Psychological Well-being in Society.
  • Renewable Energy Solutions: Assessing the Feasibility and Environmental Benefits of Implementing Solar Energy Systems in a Local Community.
  • Cultural Differences in Perception of Beauty: Examining how cultural norms shape the perception of beauty and body image ideals.
  • The Effects of Climate Change on Biodiversity: Investigating the Relationship between Global Warming and Species Extinction Rates.
  • Gender Equality in the Workplace: Analyzing the Factors Affecting the Gender Pay Gap 
  • Cybersecurity and Data Privacy: Assessing the Best Practices for Protecting Personal and Organizational Data in the Digital Age.
  • The Influence of Music on Emotion and Memory: Investigating the Cognitive and Psychological Effects of Music and Its Potential Therapeutic Applications.
  • Evaluating the Effectiveness of Sports Injuries Prevention Programs among Professional Athletes
  • Sustainable Agriculture Practices: Analyzing the Environmental, Economic, and Social Benefits of Organic Farming
  • Urbanization and Urban Planning: Evaluating the Impacts of Rapid Urban Growth on Infrastructure, Transportation, and Quality of Life in Urban Society.

Psychology Senior Thesis Ideas

When selecting  psychology senior thesis topics and how to write them, the choices can be vast and exciting. This list explores some topics to help most students generate compelling senior thesis best topics.

  • The Impact of Childhood Trauma on Adult Mental Health: Physiological Responses Study
  • Examining the Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Social Anxiety Disorder and Stress in College Students
  • The Relationship Between Social Media Use and Romantic Relationships in Adolescents
  • Investigating the Role of Parenting Styles in the Development of Emotional Intelligence in Children
  • Exploring the Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Cognitive Functioning and Executive Functioning
  • The Influence of Personality Traits on Career Choice and Self Esteem
  • Understanding the Psychology of Eating Disorders and Self-Esteem in Young Adults
  • Investigating the Impact of Social Support Therapy on Depression Treatment and Anxiety Reduction
  • The Relationship Between Sleep Quality and Cardiovascular Dysfunction in Children
  • Examining the Effects of Exercise on Eating Disorders and Anxiety Symptoms in Individuals with Major Depression

English Literature Senior Thesis Topics

With a vast landscape of works in literature and critical theories to explore, finding the perfect English literature senior thesis topics can be exciting and challenging. Students can draw inspiration for writing from the following listed English literature senior thesis topics:

  • Exploring gender roles in Shakespeare's Tragedies: The Differences of Women like Ophelia, Lady Macbeth, and Desdemona.
  • The Influence of Colonialism in Postcolonial Literature: A Study of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
  • Shakespearean Tragedy in Modern Context: A Comparative Study of Hamlet and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman
  • An Analysis of Gothic Elements in the Books of Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe.
  • The Illustration of Mother Nature in Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth's Poetry.
  • Politics and Religion in Literature Periods
  • The Portrayal of Social Class, Civil Rights and Inequality in Women from Jane Austen's Novels.
  • Social Critique and Satire in the Novels of Charles Dickens
  • A Comparative Study of Gender and Sexuality in the Works of Virginia Woolf
  • The Influence of Colonialism and Imperialism on Heart of Darkness and Wide Sargasso Sea.

Graphic Design Senior Thesis Ideas

Writing a senior thesis in graphic design can be interesting as it offers students an opportunity to showcase their creative prowess. Some topics to refine for creative folks in this field are:

  • Designing Dynamic Interactions in the Digital World for the Human Mind.
  • Visual Storytelling: Examining the Role of Graphic Design in Narrative Communication
  • The Intersection of Graphic Design and Social Justice: Using Design as a Catalyst for Promoting Positive Social Impact.
  • Sustainable Design Practices in Graphic Design: Exploring Eco-Friendly Approaches and Materials.
  • The Evolution of Branding in the Digital Age: Analyzing the Shift from Traditional to Digital Branding Strategies.
  • Graphic Design for User Experience: Investigating the Creation and Impact of Visual Design on User Engagement and Satisfaction.
  • Visualizing Data: Exploring Innovative Techniques for Information Design and Data Visualization.
  • Exploring Cultural Identity through Graphic Design: Examining the Representation of Identity and Diversity in Visual Communication.
  • The Power of Color in Graphic Design: Investigating the Psychological and Emotional Effects of Color in Visual Communication.
  • Designing for Accessibility: Examining Inclusive Design Principles and Practices in Graphic Design.

Political Science Senior Thesis Topics

Science senior thesis topics offer a chance to demonstrate your research writing skills and critical thinking abilities. The thesis topics you choose will shape your writing and research journey and ultimately determine the success of your thesis. 

Therefore, getting all the help you need can help you generate interesting political science senior thesis topics. So, some interesting political science senior thesis topics to look into include:

  • Analysis of European Union Protests and the Use of Social Media in Political Mobilization.
  • Investigating how Gender Quotas Affect the Political Representation of Women in Parliamentary Systems.
  • The Influence of Political Campaigns on Voter Behavior: A Case Study of a Recent National Election.
  • Assessing the connection between governance stability and disparities in wealth in modern society.
  • Analysis of Right- and Left-Wing Populist Leaders' Political Rhetoric Use in Populist Movements.
  • Evaluating how well international human rights treaties work to encourage adherence to human rights.
  • An analysis of non-governmental organizations' (NGOs) influence on environmental policy in modern society.
  • Public Trust in Politics and National Scandals: A Comparative Analysis of Previous Cases.
  • Exploring the Rise of Authoritarianism in Democracies: Factors and Challenges.
  • Investigating the Influence of Media Ownership and Control on Media Bias in Political Reporting.

History Senior Thesis Ideas

History is a vast field with countless potential topics to explore for writing. This makes the selection process both exciting and daunting. 

However, with careful consideration and planning process, researchers can write and find the perfect history senior thesis topics. Some history senior thesis topics that showcase history students’ analytical skills and intellectual prowess are:

  • The Impact of the Industrial Revolution on Modern Society and Culture in the Renaissance Era
  • Breaking Gender Limitations: The Contribution of Women to the Equal Rights Campaign
  • The Causes and Consequences of the Cold War: A Comparison of the USA and the USSR
  • Evaluating the Causes and Effects of the French Revolution
  • The African-American Experience during the Reconstruction Era: Progress and Challenges 
  • The Role of Propaganda in World War II Development: Analysis of Nazi and Allied Strategies
  • The Rise and Fall of Colonialism: Examining the Impact of European Powers on Africa
  • The Origins and Development of Ancient Greece Culture
  • The Great Depression: A Case Study on its Effects on the Society.
  • The Impact of Rational Concepts on the American Revolution and the Rise of the US.

Criminal Justice Senior Thesis Ideas

Criminal justice senior thesis topics should address significant issues within the field. This gives students the chance to contribute to understanding the challenges and improvement of the criminal justice system. Listed are some senior thesis topics to consider:

  • The Impact of Body-Worn Cameras on Police Accountability and Public Trust
  • The Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Practices in Reducing Recidivism Rates
  • A Look at the Correlation between Mental Health and Criminal Behavior
  • Exploring the Impact of Race and Ethnicity in the Law Enforcement System's Sentencing Inequalities
  • Analyzing the Effectiveness of Drug Courts in Keeping Substance Abuse Offenders Out of the Regular Law Enforcement System
  • The Use of Risk Assessment Tools in Sentencing and Parole Decision-Making
  • Investigating the Factors Influencing False Confessions and Their Implications for the Criminal Justice System
  • Evaluation of the Impact of Capital Punishment on Criminal Activity Suppression and Community Response.
  • Investigating the Links Between Halt and Search and Racism in Policing
  • Rates of Juvenile Delinquency and Relapse and the Effectiveness of Rehab Initiatives

Senior thesis topics chosen with careful deliberation allow students to demonstrate their prowess in academic research. It is an opportunity for students to make original contributions to their fields, advance knowledge, and potentially impact the broader academic community.

The selection of good senior thesis topics for writing should be based on personal interest, feasibility, and relevance. This ensures a meaningful and successful research project. Good luck!

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Dr. Caroline Phd

I have always been a bit of a polymath – I loved going through encyclopedias, learning interesting facts about the world around us. Even when it was time to choose my major, I struggled a lot, as I wanted to learn everything about everything.

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Student Project Submission Workshops

Need help with submitting a project (senior project, senior capstone, or masters thesis) to the Student Project Portal? The Library is here to help!

Senior projects, senior capstones, and masters theses are submitted to the Library repository via the Student Project Portal . The deadline to submit for Fall 2023 graduates  is Friday, Dec. 15 th, 2023 .

Librarians are here to help and will walk you through the process of submitting your student projects ! 

Please join us for any of the following workshops:

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We also have step-by-step instructions, including screenshots, for both students and faculty readers, for navigating the submission process on our   Student Project Guide ! T he guide walks you through setting up your Portal space, adding your second reader, and submitting your project title, abstract, and PDF.

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  1. Thesis vs. Dissertation vs. Research Paper

    senior project vs thesis

  2. How-To Senior Thesis Tips & Tricks

    senior project vs thesis

  3. Thesis vs. Dissertation vs. Research Paper

    senior project vs thesis

  4. Dissertation vs. Thesis: What’s the Difference?

    senior project vs thesis

  5. Thesis vs Dissertation

    senior project vs thesis

  6. Thesis vs Dissertation

    senior project vs thesis


  1. Thesis and Senior Project Guidelines

    The thesis is ordinarily a two-semester project, but a Senior Project can be a one-semester undertaking. Joint concentrators whose primary concentration is not AFVS will enroll in AFVS 91R, and in the 99 of their primary concentration. They may have an adviser in both concentrations. Academic Requirements

  2. What is the difference between project and thesis?

    It differs by school. Technically, a thesis is a claim that can be proven or disproven, but, in practice, the term "thesis" is often used for a project (for undergraduate or Master's degrees).

  3. Capstone Project vs. Thesis: What's the Difference?

    The thesis, also called a "dissertation," is a super-sized form of a research paper that serves as the final project before you complete your master's degree or doctoral degree.

  4. Writing a Senior Thesis: Is it Worth it?

    Before coming to Yale, I thought a thesis was the main argument of a paper. I quickly learned that an undergraduate thesis is about fifty times harder and fifty pages longer than any thesis arguments I wrote in high school. At Yale, every senior has some sort of senior requirement, but thesis projects vary by department. Some departments require students to do a semester-long

  5. Senior Project/Thesis

    A Senior Project/Thesis represents the culmination of a student's pursuit of a degree in Computer Science. A Senior Project is typically a well-defined project whose end result is a specific deliverable. An application, an empirical study, a survey, or replicating an existing result are example categories of projects.

  6. Senior Thesis Writing Guides

    The senior thesis is typically the most challenging writing project undertaken by undergraduate students. The writing guides below aim to introduce students both to the specific methods and conventions of writing original research in their area of concentration and to effective writing process. Departmental Writing Fellows, who offer one-on-one ...

  7. The Senior Thesis

    The senior thesis project allows students to develop records of individual research that include theoretical engagement in the major discipline, the development of creative projects or research, and original empirical and interpretive analysis. The form of the senior requirement may vary across majors, but the most common forms are the senior ...

  8. Preparing for a Senior Thesis

    The senior thesis is a significant task for students to undertake, but there is a variety of support resources available here at Harvard to ensure that seniors can make the best of their senior thesis experience. ... While the senior thesis is still a challenging project that will take up a lot of time, Harvard's resources make it possible ...

  9. Senior Theses

    Once a week? What other resources can you turn to for information, feedback, and support? Even though there is a lot to think about and a lot to do, doing a thesis really can be an enjoyable experience! Keep reminding yourself why you chose this topic and why you care about it. Tips for Tackling Big Projects:

  10. The Senior Thesis

    Integral to the senior thesis process is the opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty member who guides the development of the project. Thesis writers and advisers agree that the most valuable outcome of the senior thesis is the chance for students to enhance skills that are the foundation of future success, including creativity, intellectual engagement, mental discipline and the ability ...

  11. Honors Theses

    Writing a senior honors thesis, or any major research essay, can seem daunting at first. A thesis requires a reflective, multi-stage writing process. This handout will walk you through those stages. It is targeted at students in the humanities and social sciences, since their theses tend to involve more writing than projects in the hard sciences.

  12. PDF Senior Thesis Guide

    A: A "thesis" is a proposition or assertion that is supported by logical arguments and factual evidence, or data. A Senior Thesis should represent an analysis of some phenomenon, typically supported by original data. What makes your essay a "thesis" is that you go beyond narrative and description to include original data, analysis, and argument.

  13. What Is a Senior Thesis?

    Updated on January 24, 2019 A senior thesis is a large, independent research project that students take on during their senior year of high school or college to fulfill their graduation requirement. It is the culminating work of their studies at a particular institution, and it represents their ability to conduct research and write effectively.

  14. Senior Research Project

    Thesis vs. Project . All senior honors work requires research in a subject area pertaining to the student's coursework and the use of scholarly sources. It can involve significant primary research or can produce an applied product or creative work. Accordingly, one may opt to complete senior honors work in the form of a thesis or a project.

  15. The Senior Essay or Senior Thesis

    Both the senior essay and the thesis require some advance planning, though the timeline for the thesis is typically longer. If you choose to write the senior essay, you should have selected a paper to revise and expand, or else identified a topic for a new research paper, no later than the semester before you enroll in COMPSTD 4990. You will need to submit your draft or proposal for a first ...

  16. Senior Design Process and Exceptions

    Overview. All CCI undergraduate programs include a senior design sequence as a capstone to the degree. Most majors include a three-course college-wide sequence CI491, CI492, CI493. Project teams can be from a single major, or from various majors including outside of CCI. Students are always registered for the course in their home college, so ...

  17. Independent Work & Thesis

    Independent Work, Senior Thesis or Senior Project must be taken at the senior level in order to fulfill the department's Independent Work requirement. All projects must include engineering design. Design is defined as devising a system, component, or process to meet desired needs. MAE 439, 440, 442 or 444 may also partially satisfy a Design ...

  18. Senior Design

    The Senior Design course sequence (MATE 491, 492, and 493) is the most important challenge of the senior year. This three-term capstone sequence is intended to simulate a professional research and learning environment. Students benefit from the sequence in two ways: it provides a forum to communicate their ideas and results to the faculty and ...

  19. Senior vs. Junior vs. Graduate Thesis: What's the Difference?

    (Updated on August 21, 2023) A senior thesis is a lengthy, usually investigation-based text completed in the final year or semester of an undergraduate's study. Senior theses are typically completed in the area of a student's major and are intended to demonstrate the student's expertise in his/her field of study.

  20. Dissertation vs Thesis: Your 2023 Guide

    A thesis is an academic paper or project that's completed towards the end of a master's degree program. It is typically completed as the capstone project, meaning it's the final project required for a student to graduate. Students need to select a narrow, specific topic within - or relating to - their field of study.

  21. How to Write a Senior Thesis

    Your senior thesis may be between 10,000 to 20,000 words long. Senior thesis cover page The senior honors thesis is a 6-credit final thesis that you must present as a written formal document. The senior thesis title page, also known as the cover page, is the page that carries, at first glance, details of the project.

  22. ECE Senior Project vs Thesis : r/UIUC

    5 jkthe • EE alum • 7 yr. ago Senior thesis. From what I've heard about Senior Design is that because the time period is so small you can't really make something revolutionary. Also, towards the end of the semester 445 takes up all your time, even more than any of the hard classes (391/374/411 etc.). Thesis is year long.

  23. 80 Actual Senior Thesis Topics [2022]

    Senior thesis topics are research projects students undertake in their final year of undergraduate studies or graduate programs. These senior thesis topics allow students to demonstrate their expertise in academic writing. School senior thesis topics can cover a wide range of disciplines. This spans science and humanities to social sciences and ...

  24. Student Project Submission Workshops • Library • Purchase College

    Senior projects, senior capstones, and masters theses are submitted to the Library repository via the Student Project Portal. The deadline to submit for Fall 2023 graduates is Friday, Dec. 15 th, 2023.. Librarians are here to help and will walk you through the process of submitting your student projects!. Please join us for any of the following workshops: