Timeline for Senior Thesis

First Year 

  • Take courses that help you explore your interests in a wide range of subjects. Remember that a lot of students change their major after they start college, so keep an open mind!
  • Consider participating in Undergraduate Research Scholars or apply for a Summer Sophomore Research Apprenticeship Grant (the summer after your freshman or sophomore year) to gain research experience.

Second Year

  • If you find something you are interested in, take more courses in that subject. Don’t hesitate to visit major advisors, even if you are not yet ready to declare a major. They can tell you more about doing research in that specific discipline.
  • Start thinking about taking methods courses, such as statistics, that will help you when designing and conducting independent research.
  • If you are really interested in a subject, consider taking a directed study course (299 or 699) to help you explore a particular research topic in depth.

Third Year

  • Start focusing in on a topic.
  • Start looking for a faculty member in your area of interest (see “Choosing a Topic and Mentor”). Think about doing a directed study with that professor in preparation for your thesis.
  • Consider applying for a Summer Honors Thesis Research Grant if you think you will need to do research over the summer.
  • Register for 681 for the fall. Some departments also require you to enroll in a seminar alongside the senior thesis; check with your major advisor.

Summer Before your Fourth Year

  • Do preparatory research or research you can’t do once the semester starts (i.e., fieldwork or archival research). You might want to tell professors and graduate students about your thesis to see if they have any suggested readings.
  • Write a proposal for your research. Not only can this be helpful when you apply for grants, but writing down what you plan to do will give you a better sense of focus.

Fall Semester, Fourth Year

  • By the start of the fall semester, you should have established an agreement with your advisor and have a clear idea for your research topic.
  • If you have not yet applied for funding, apply for a Trewartha award through the Honors Program
  • At the beginning of the year, meet with your thesis advisor to set deadlines and expectations as well as to decide how often you will consult with him or her.
  • Consider setting up regular meetings with the Writing Center, which can help you stay on track and give you advice on research and writing.
  • Work on compiling a bibliography. This can help you get a sense of what is out there and what kinds of research you will need to do.
  • Plan to finish a draft of your thesis early enough so that you can give it to a number of different readers and still have time to take their suggestions into consideration.

Spring Semester, Fourth Year

  • You should have completed the bulk of your research by the early part of spring semester, and you should start writing! Plan tentative dates for completing chapters and reviewing them with your advisor.
  • Try to finish a draft of your thesis at least a month before it is due, so that you have sufficient time to edit.
  • The University Bookstore offers an award for outstanding independent projects, including senior theses. Consider applying for one; the deadline is in mid-March.