First Steps

Since LALS is an interdisciplinary program, there will be a fair amount of variation in form and length among student theses. Be aware that over the course of each semester the thesis will probably take more time than you usually spend attending and preparing for another class.

At the beginning of the fall semester, you should meet with your advisor to map out a schedule for completing the necessary work. Continuation on the thesis in the second semester of senior year is based on successful progress during the fall term. This will be determined by your thesis advisor and you. If you or your advisor determine not to continue with the thesis in the spring term, you must inform the Registrar that you are withdrawing from LALS 99d. You will then receive a letter grade for the fall term rather than the "satisfactory" grade that is usually reported at mid year.

Establishing a Committee

One of your primary thesis advisors must be a LALS faculty member. You should choose your advisor carefully, as you will work very closely with this person throughout the whole year. Together you will come up with a plan for completing the thesis, and ideally you will meet frequently to discuss and get feedback on your progress.

The best advisors tend to be those who are already familiar with your work and whose regional or subject expertise matches your topic. You should remember that faculty sometimes go on leave or are otherwise not available, so it is best to talk to faculty as early as possible about their ability to supervise a thesis. If you need assistance with finding an advisor, contact the LALS program chair.

In addition to your primary advisor, the examining committee for the thesis must include at least two other faculty members, at least one of whom teaches a LALS or LALS cross-listed course. While the composition of the committee is primarily up to you, it would be wise to consult with your advisor about the other members. You may decide to put your full committee together early in the thesis process or wait until you are close to completion. These additional committee members can be helpful resources for consultation purposes during various stages of the thesis process. Typically, they will not read your thesis work until the final draft, but individual cases will vary.

Information about LALS faculty expertise can be found on the Faculty page.

Thesis Proposal

By late September, you should submit one copy of a thesis proposal to your thesis advisor. In all likelihood, some aspects of the plan that you develop in the proposal will change as you actually work on the thesis. But you will probably find the process of putting the proposal together useful for getting you started on the thesis. You should discuss the specifics of the proposal with your advisor, but it normally is a 3-5 page document that includes a provisional title for the thesis, a statement of the question or problem that will be your focus, a short literature review, a description of your research methods and form of analysis, and a preliminary bibliography of sources you intend to consult. A copy of the thesis prospectus can either be emailed to the academic administrator or send a physical copy to Mailstop 095.

Research on Human Subjects

If the research for your thesis is based on interviews, participant observation, testimonials, or other forms of data collected from human subjects, you first need the approval from the Human Research Protection Program (HRPP). For further information on whether this is necessary, visit the Office of Research Administration website. You can also consult with your thesis advisor. Please be aware that approval is a time-consuming process; if your project requires such approval you will need to apply before you begin your research.

Resources for Thesis Writers

You can apply for funds to conduct field research for your thesis through the Jane's Travel Grant. Limited financial assistance may also be available to thesis writers through the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences (DAS). There is no deadline for this funding, but applications are considered on a 'first come, first served' basis. For further information, visit the DAS website.