Majors: Senior Honors Thesis
English majors may apply to write an honors thesis in their senior
year. An honors thesis, as opposed to an independent study, is a
two-semester project involving an advanced level of work in an area
that students have already studied as part of their major.
Because this is an honors program, application to write a thesis is
limited to students whose names have appeared on the Dean’s List at
least twice before their senior year. Transfer students should have
appeared on the Dean’s List at least once at Tufts. See below for
other prerequisites and details about the application process.
- Critical Writing: The critical writing thesis is 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 critical argument. Students are expected to have
done prior course work or other research in the proposed field, to
demonstrate their ability to sustain an extended independent
project, and to present a detailed and seriously thought-out
proposal. Questions of organization, format, and length are
determined in consultation with the thesis director.
- Creative Writing: The creative writing thesis can be either
a unified set of works (poems or short stories) or a single novella
or novel (minimum 80 pages). Students must have taken at least two
courses in the relevant genre, one of them at the advanced level,
which means fiction writers must have taken Advanced Fiction-ENG0013
(and received a grade of A or A-) and poets must have taken Forms of
Poetry-ENG0016 (and received a grade of A or A-). All potential
creative thesis writers must submit a substantial sample of prose or
poetry (as appropriate) in order to secure the support of a
full-time member of the Department to serve as thesis director.
Students are expected to confer with potential thesis directors
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 usually
professors with whom the student has already completed coursework in
the area to be covered in the honors thesis.
See the current list of full-time
Once a faculty member has agreed to serve as
thesis director, the student consults with them in developing a
proposal to be submitted for approval to the Department early in the
Fall term; once the proposal is approved by the Department, the
student will determine a writing schedule and identify a second
reader for the thesis 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 to submit for final approval by the English
Department at the beginning of the Fall term.
- Critical Thesis Proposal: The proposal for a critical
writing thesis should be two to three pages. It should present an
overview of the topic, outline the specific questions to be
explored, discuss the method of investigation or analysis, and
describe the organization of the thesis by section or chapter. It
should also include a short preliminary bibliography of works (both
primary and secondary) that the thesis will engage.
- Creative Thesis Proposal: Though it is understood that
creative projects will evolve during the writing process, the
proposal for a creative thesis should be one or two paragraphs
setting out the main ideas or situations the student wants to
address and what themes (or kinds of characters or narrative style
or poetic forms) they want to explore in their thesis. It should act
as a point of entry for the writing work to be done.
Proposal Submission Guidelines
- The written proposal should be produced in consultation
with the thesis director and submitted to the director before 15
September for circulation to the Department, along with a
confirmation that the student’s name has appeared on the Dean’s List
at least two times before their senior year (or at least once for
- The thesis director will submit the proposal by 15 September for
review and a vote by the full-time members of the English
Department. Only those theses whose proposals are approved by vote
of the English Department faculty will be permitted to go forward.
Once the Department approves the proposal, students will be notified
to go forward with registration for the thesis course.
Required Thesis Workshop
All students doing senior honors theses are required to attend the
Senior Thesis Workshop that accompanies registration for the Senior
Honors Thesis. There will be 3-4 meetings of the Workshop
facilitated by the Senior Honors Thesis Coordinator each term,
including a Thesis Presentation event that will be held in April
before the annual English Major Celebration.
Senior Honors Thesis Registration
The senior honors thesis is a year-long course. Approved students
will receive an email with the following instructions:
- Complete and submit a signed "Senior
Honors Thesis Form" to the English Department Administration
within a week of receiving notification of project approval.
Students are encouraged to keep a copy of this form.
- Complete the online
Senior Honors Thesis Candidate Declaration Form.
- Lastly, we will register you for the fall semester for ENG 0199
Senior Honors Thesis A. For the spring semester, you must register
online via SIS for ENG 0199 Senior Honors Thesis B, and select the
faculty directing your thesis. Please be sure to verify your
registration on SIS and that there is no course overload for either
- A Senior Honors Thesis counts for a total of two courses, one for
each semester registered.
- One course of a Senior Honors Thesis may count as one of the five
elective courses required for the English Major. The second course
of a Senior Honors Thesis is additional to the ten courses required
for the English Major.
An approved honors thesis culminates in a Thesis Defense, which is
an hour-long discussion and critique of the thesis work with the
thesis director and second reader. After the defense, the two
faculty readers determine a letter grade and the level of honors to
Students are expected to hand in final versions of their theses at
least two weeks before their defense date. The defense usually takes
place at the end of the Spring term, during reading period, or, at
latest, in the early part of finals week. The defense must take
place before senior grades are due.
After the defense, students should submit a final, corrected copy of
their completed senior honors thesis to the Digital Collection and
Archives (DCA) either in digital form or as a hard copy.
Deposit Form for the Tufts Digital Library.
Students who have their thesis printed often make several extra
copies for themselves and their family; in this case, they should
also provide a copy to the English Department.
Fulfilling Major Requirements
One course of the Senior Honors Thesis counts as one among the five
elective courses required for the ten course English Major. The
second course of the Senior Honors Thesis is additional to the ten
course English Major, making a total of eleven courses for those
students doing the Senior Honors Thesis. Students can complete the
other requirements for the English Major while working on their
Senior Honors Thesis.
Further Information and Writing Support
Students are highly encouraged to visit the following websites for
extensive support in planning and writing their senior honors