The ILVS Senior Project or Thesis
- Do I have to do a senior project or thesis?
Doing a senior project or thesis is required for the class of
2015 and beyond.
- Which should I do, a project or a thesis?
It's up to you. In order to do an honors thesis, you must be on the dean's list twice. Otherwise, your final project could be a
seminar paper or a write up of an important internship, or major
project you've done for another class. Whether you do a
senior project or a thesis, you can point to it as something your wide-ranging study as
an ILVS major allowed you to accomplish. Future employers or
graduate schools will be interested in it.
- Where do I start?
With an idea, question, or project that interests you enough to
pursue it independently for a considerable length of time.
- When do I start?
The process should begin when you're a sophomore, as you
begin to discover your passion. During your junior year, you
should gravitate toward a general topic. By the beginning of
senior year, you should have done some preparation for the
project. Throughout your senior year, you'll be spending a lot
of time developing your idea into something presentable.
Try not to take more than three or four courses a semester if
you're in the midst of a senior project or thesis.
- Do I have to register for anything?
Yes. For the project, you'll be signing up for an independent
study: ILVS 0193 or ILVS0194 depending on the semester. For a
thesis, you'll be signing up for ILVS 198. List your primary
For thesis writers, you also need to fill out an honors thesis
form and turn it in to Dowling Hall by November 15.
- Who should be my advisor?
Ideally, this will be someone who shares your interests, and is
someone you already know from prior coursework. When you
approach someone to be your advisor, have a brief proposal of
your project in mind so you can make the pitch effectively.
- How many readers?
One for a project. Two (or more) for a thesis. You will meet
frequently with your main advisor, less frequently with your
other advisors. If you're doing something that brings disparate
fields together, it's good to have different advisors who know
something about this or that area.
- Should my ILVS major advisor be my thesis advisor?
Ideally, yes. But not necessarily.
- Is it hard to get an advisor?
For some it is a challenge, especially if you declared your
major late and went abroad your junior year. This is why it's
important to try to get to know your professors well, beginning
freshman year if possible.
- Should my project or thesis be comparative?
- Should my project or thesis require me to use a foreign
language or two?
- What is a reasonable length for the project?
Projects are shorter than theses, say 20 pages or so. A thesis
should be about three chapters long (or 45-60 double-spaced
pages). A few have been much longer, and a few have been much
shorter. Quality matters more than quantity, but quantity often
- What does a standard thesis look like?
This varies a great deal. Some write essays, some make movies,
some write stories, some create photo essays, some do
- If I do a translation, should I also write something
Yes. Write something that introduces and analyzes the piece.
- If I do a creative writing, photography, or painting
project, do I also need to write something about what I've done?
Yes. Write something that frames the piece.
- Can I use my CMS project as an ILVS project?
Yes, but you need to add something, such as an essay that
introduces or analyzes what you've done.
- What's a general time line for an honors thesis?
- Begin to develop an idea for your thesis or project
Summer before Senior Year
- Start to narrow your topic
- Take courses
that will help you gain a better understanding of your topic
- Talk with potential advisors. This can be done by email if you
- Begin to formulate a few questions you'd like to pursue
- Consider being a
- Have a principle
advisor by the first week of the fall semester. Have a
secondary reader by the end of September
- Come up with an outline by October
- Continue reading, taking notes, and start writing, fall
- Finish a draft of one chapter by December
- Finish second chapter over winter break
- Finish rough draft of entire thesis by Spring Break
- Revise and submit your draft two weeks before finals
- YOU set up a time for your defense, which usually
happens during reading period spring semester
- Defend your thesis during reading period or finals
period, spring semester
- Rewrite immediately after defense
- Submit final hard copies to advisors and one digital
copy to library.
- Should I apply for a Fulbright, Marshall, Rhodes, or MEXT
Yes. The application process should start
the summer before your senior year.
- If I'm thinking of graduate school, should I do a project or
Depends on the field, but most programs will want to see what
you can do. Many graduate programs ask you to submit a sample of
- How does my work get evaluated?
For projects, your advisor will give you a grade. For a thesis,
you'll get a grade for two semester of course work, plus a
designation for the thesis itself: no honors, honors, high
honors, or highest honors. This all gets decided at your
defense. Highest honors and no honors are rare.
- What happens at a defense?
You'll be asked to give a 10-minute summary of what you've done.
Readers will then ask questions. You'll leave the room, and
they'll deliberate. You'll get called back into the room, and
they'll tell you how you did. Usually, there's a celebration.
- Will my thesis get recorded on my transcript?
Yes, plus your thesis honors designation will be announced at
commencement (along with Latin honors—cum laude, magna cum
laude, summa cum laude—and any other prizes you win).
- Are funds available to support my research?
Yes, the Summer Scholars program will pay you to work on your
thesis. Funds are also available through the
research fund. Contact Dean Carmen Lowe for possible funding.
- Do I have to get permission to do research on human
Yes. There is a workshop you have to attend in order to do this
kind of research. If you're going to be doing interviews,
surveys, testing on human subjects, and so forth, you need to be
trained. It's the law.
- What is the value of doing a project or thesis?
A project or thesis will allow you to bring your wide-ranging
study of different cultures, languages, literatures, films, and
visual arts to a satisfying conclusion. It will also help you
get into the habit of pursuing your own ideas in a creative
fashion—a skill that will help you tremendously in your life
after Tufts. Finally, it will leave you with something you can
point to as a tangible result of your four years of