English Senior Thesis Project: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a senior thesis?

EN 4930 Senior Thesis is an independent project designed by the student under the guidance of a faculty thesis advisor. As a culminating experience for our majors, the thesis demonstrates students’ mastery of the skills of reading, writing and research. The thesis topic often grows out of a student's work in a course, but it is bounded only by the powers of the individual student’s creativity and the guidance and discretion of the thesis advisor. Literature track students frequently write an extended literary research paper – often focusing on a particular genre, author, or theme. Writing track students often engage in a longer writing project: a collection of poems, set of short stories, a novel or screenplay, or a work of creative non- fiction. Students may undertake thesis projects that cross tracks (e.g., a writing track student could write a literary analysis paper or a literature track student could write a work of fiction).

How do I get enrolled in senior thesis hours?

Instead of registering for the course on Rockweb, the thesis requires that you complete a thesis application form. The form asks you to describe the proposed project in some detail, including specifying the project objective(s), proposing an estimated length for the final product, and explaining the reason for undertaking this project. To get enrolled in EN 4930 Senior Thesis, complete this application form, obtain signatures of approval from the thesis advisor and the department chair, and then submit the approved application to the Registrar’s Office.

How can I obtain a thesis application form?

You can request a blank thesis form (in electronic or paper copy) from the department chair or from any other English professor. A copy of the form is also available via a link on the English Department web page

How do I find a thesis advisor?

The best place to start is by talking to a professor in the department -- likely your advisor or a professor whom you know from class. Feel free to speak to multiple faculty members about your ideas! Once you have a clear sense of the project you'd like to pursue, you should ask a faculty member whose specialties and research interests match the project to advise your thesis. This professor will offer guidance as you complete the thesis application form, gain the necessary signatures, and submit it to the Dean's office.

In which semester should I complete my senior thesis?

Most students complete the thesis during the fall or spring of the senior year. In deciding when to complete the thesis, a student should consider what other courses and work the student expects in each semester. Some students may elect to complete the thesis during the second semester of their junior year.

When and how should I get started on it?

It is best to fill out paperwork for the thesis during the semester prior to its completion. Students should begin thinking about their thesis topic around the time of preregistration for the upcoming semester (April for the Fall semester, October for the Spring semester) and should ideally submit the completed, approved thesis form to the Registrar’s office by the end of that semester (by May for Fall, by December for Spring). The thesis application can, however, be turned in as late as the first week of classes (August for the Fall semester, January for the Spring semester).

Can the senior thesis be completed in the summer?

It's possible to complete the thesis in the summer, but students must have the approval of the department chair and thesis advisor.

The catalog states, “Credit [for the thesis] varies according to the topic chosen.” The number of credit hours a student enrolls in, however, does not necessarily translate neatly into a certain size of project.

Completed theses are typically 15-30 pages or longer, regardless of the number of thesis hours. The number of thesis hours is typically determined by the number of hours available in a student’s semester schedule (i.e., if the student is only enrolled in 9 or 10 credit hours, then the student may wish to enroll in 3 hours to ensure full-time status; if the student is enrolled in 16 or 17 credit hours, then she or he may wish to enroll in 1 or 2 hours for the thesis, so as not to exceed the 18 hour maximum.