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Majors: Senior Honors Thesis
In their senior year, English majors may apply to write an honors thesis. An honors thesis, as opposed to an independent study, represents an advanced level of work in an area that students have already studied as part of their major.
Because this is an honors program, admission is restricted to students whose names have appeared on the Dean's List at least two times before their senior year. Transfer students should have appeared on the Dean's List at least once at Tufts.
Critical writing: The critical writing thesis should be a substantial piece of work (generally between 35 and 60 pages) that demonstrates the student's ability to develop and sustain a coherent and comprehensive argument. Questions of format, length, and chapter division are determined by the student in consultation with her or his director and committee. Students are expected to have done prior course work or other research in the proposed field, to have demonstrated an ability to sustain an extended independent project, and to present a detailed and seriously thought-out proposal.
Creative writing: The creative writing thesis should either be a unified set of works (poetry or short stories) or a single novel. Students must have taken at least two courses in the relevant genre, one of them above the beginning level, and must have the support of two full-time members of the department, having submitted for their consideration a substantial body of creative work.
Students are expected to confer with a potential thesis director about their projects well in advance, normally no later than the spring of their junior year. Directors must be full-time members of the English Department and are normally professors with whom the student has already completed coursework in the area to be covered by the honors thesis. Once the proposal in approved, students will work out a schedule and assemble a committee in consultation with their director.
After consulting with the potential director, students who intend to undertake
an honors thesis are expected to produce a written proposal over the summer between
their junior and senior years.
Proposal Submission Guidelines
Senior Honors Thesis Registration
The senior honors thesis is a year-long course. Approved students will receive an email with the following instructions:
All students doing senior honors theses are expected to participate in the workshops being arranged by the Director of Senior Theses (for the academic year 2017-2018, this will be Professor Michael Ullman).
Thesis DefenseApproved honors theses culminate in a thesis defense, which is an hour-long meeting discussing and critiquing the student's work, at the end of which a letter grade is issued and the level of honors awarded.
The defense is attended by the student and the two readers on their committee: the thesis director and a second reader (who must also be a full-time English Department faculty member.)
Students are expected to hand in final versions of their thesis at least two weeks before their defense date. The defense usually takes place during the spring semester reading period and finals and must be completed before grades are due.
After the defense, students should submit a final copy of their completed senior
honors thesis to the Digital Collection and Archives (DCA) either in
or as a hard copy.
Fulfilling Major Requirements
The senior honors thesis counts as part of the required courses for the major. It is not necessary for a student to take ten courses in the major plus the two credits that the senior thesis confers; the two credits received for the thesis count towards the ten courses in the major. Additionally, students can complete the other requirements for the major while working on their senior thesis.
Further Information and Writing Support
Students are highly encouraged to visit the following links for extensive support in planning and writing their senior honors thesis:
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