The senior thesis or project is the culmination of the student’s independent major. It may take the form of a written thesis or, with proper justification, it may have some other form (e.g., a film) deemed appropriate both by the project supervisors and by the program director. In the paragraphs that follow, “thesis” is intended to apply both to theses and to projects.

The thesis may be taken for a grade or as ungraded work, and may be elected for the first semester, the second semester, or the entire year. Students often find it helpful to do thesis preparation as independent study work during the semester prior to the writing of the thesis.

The Thesis Proposal

Each independent major is required to submit to the committee an essay containing the following elements:

  • a clear and concise statement about the proposed content of the thesis
  • a statement clarifying the relationship of the thesis to the major and indicating the degree to which the thesis will require a multidisciplinary approach
  • a bibliography of works expected to be central to the preparation of the thesis
  • signatures of both thesis supervisors, indicating that they approve of the student’s plans

Thesis Supervision

The independent student should have thesis supervisors from at least two departments. The thesis supervisors may be different from the program advisors. It is the student’s responsibility to get the supervisors’ approval of the essay and to confer with them while preparing the thesis. Usually, one of the supervisors will be the principle advisor and reader for the thesis, but the other supervisor should be apprised of progress on the thesis and of substantive changes, since both supervisors will evaluate it upon completion.

Thesis Submission

The student submits one copy of the final version of the thesis to each of the thesis supervisors and one copy (bound) to the Independent Program office. The copy submitted to the IP office will be archived.

Penalties for Late Submission of the Thesis:

If a student does not meet the deadlines for thesis or project submission, penalties may be assessed. If a student has a good reason for lateness, an extension of one week may be granted, following consultation prior to the deadline, between the student, the supervisors and the director of the program. If an extension is granted, all deadlines will be moved back one week. If no extension has been granted, the student submitting a late thesis will not be eligible for departmental honors. If the thesis is turned in more than one week past the deadline, it fails. Exceptions will be made only under extraordinary circumstances.


The senior project will be evaluated by the supervisors either for a letter grade or as Distinctive, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory in the case of ungraded work. The supervisors must consult with each other to reach an agreement on their final evaluation of the thesis or project.

Students and their supervisors should set up intermediate deadlines appropriate to the particular thesis. Both the student and the supervisors should contact the director of the Independent Program regarding any major problems that arise during the preparation of the thesis.