Info Packet

Policies for SYE Senior Thesis Registration and Approval of the Formal Proposal

1. Eligibility: All Junior Majors with a Dept. GPA of 3.5+ and at least a 3.0 in their research seminar (GOVT 290, 291, 292, or 293) are eligible to apply to write a Senior Thesis in Government. This is a two semester project. The Department strongly encourages all students who meet the above requirements to consider a Senior Thesis.

2. Senior Theses Registration: Once a preliminary proposal has been approved by the Department, senior thesis students should register for GOVT 489 SYE: Independent Projects through their thesis advisor.

3. The Proposal Submission Process: Approval of the thesis proposal is a two-step process.

a) Preliminary Proposal Submission. When the student does decide to pursue a thesis, he/she receives two sets of proposal approval guidelines, which appear at the end of this document. These are also available electronically on the Government Department website and in hard copy from the Government department administrative secretary. The first set outlines a preliminary proposal, which must be submitted to the Government Department Chair no later than the first Friday of April during your junior year.

b) Formal Proposal Submission. The second set of guidelines is much more detailed, and requires that the student develop a fairly extensive outline of her project, including 1) a clearly focused research question, 2) a proposed thesis statement, 3) a bibliography and/or literature review, and 4) a suggested research methodology. This advanced thesis proposal must be submitted to, and receive formal approval from the student’s thesis committee no later than the deadline for the submission of mid-semester grades during the fall semester of your senior thesis project.

The thesis committee is set up and chosen by the student. It consists of the student’s thesis advisor, and two other instructors with whom the student requests to work. The advanced thesis proposal must be submitted to and receive formal approval from this committee by the above deadline. Once the student’s formal proposal has been approved by her committee, the Department will change the course registration to Senior Thesis status (GOVT 497 SYE: Senior Thesis). The student will then receive an X grade for the fall semester.

Approval of the formal proposal, so that the student may be advanced to senior thesis status, is not automatic. If the student has not prepared a satisfactory proposal by the mid-term deadline date, or decides, for whatever reason, not to pursue the senior thesis, the paper retains its status as an Independent Project. Its completion is then expected by the start of the spring semester.

The next contact the student has with her full committee is during the closing weeks of the spring term. The finished thesis should be submitted to the members of this committee no later than the final week of classes. Then, sometime during exam week, the student meets with the three members of the committee to present, explain, and support orally the central argument of her paper. After this presentation, the committee deliberates and makes the decision whether to award the completed thesis Honors.

4. Honors, and Final Submission and Approval: The awarding of Honors is not automatic. That is why the Department insists on referring to this project as a Senior Thesis. Only after the student has met with the committee at the end of the spring term to present and support her arguments orally is the determination made as to what grade to award the paper. If it is decided to award the paper Honors, the thesis formally receives that designation only upon actual completion of the project. 'Actual completion' means that any revisions students are asked to make at their end-of-term meeting with the thesis review committee must be submitted to and approved by the committee in time for the submission of senior grades.

It should also be noted that formal University Honors can be awarded only to students who have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in all courses in the major.

5. Senior Thesis Forum Finally, every year the Government Department sponsors a Senior Thesis Forum, at which all students who have written a thesis present their research and findings to Government majors and faculty. At this event, which takes place on the University’s Festival Day, our faculty and students come together to recognize the excellence in scholarship which it is the goal of the Department to promote.