Spring Semester, Junior year
In the spring of your junior year, you have three tasks:
- Choose a Topic.
At this point your topic can be quite general. For example, your question at this point could be simply, "What is the nature of friendship?" or "How is it possible to know what another person thinks?"
- Find an Advisor.
You can ask any member of the department to advise you on your thesis. However, the professor you choose may believe that another member of the department is more qualified to direct your thesis, and may direct you to that person.
- Write a Two to Three Page Prospectus.
The prospectus should:
- Set forth the question you wish to address in your thesis.
- Describe how you hope to answer this question.
- Include a reading list.
- Be submitted to the department by April 25th.
Summer After Junior Year
In the summer of your junior year (i.e., the summer before you begin your senior year), you have one task: read the books and articles on your reading list.
A note on strategy: Write a short summary or response paper for each article or book you read while you are working toward your thesis - this information becomes very useful as the thesis progresses. When undertaking a project like this, it is best to start writing as soon as possible. If you put off writing and only read, one of two things might happen. Either you will have too much to say and you won't know where to begin, or you will have nothing to say and you will begin to doubt your ability to write a thesis. Both of these attitudes can lead to panic, and panic is seldom good. So, write early and often.
Fall Semester, Senior Year
In the fall of your senior year you should:
- Begin meeting with your advisor once per week.
- Narrow the focus of your thesis. Now that you know the field better, you must be more specific in the problem you are addressing - the odds are that the question or topic you began with in the spring of your junior year was too broad.
- Write the preliminary chapters. Typically, these chapters will include:
- Presentation of the problem you will be addressing in your thesis.
- Motivation for your problem - why is it important?
- Survey the canonical answers to your question.
- Critique these answers.
- Submit this and a cover letter to the department by the Monday after Thanksgiving break.
Spring Semester, Senior Year
In the spring of your senior year, you should:
- Rewrite the preliminary chapters.
- Write the chapters in which you advance the dialogue.
- Choose the second and third members of your committee.
- Prepare your final draft, due on May 1st.
- Give an oral presentation and defense of your thesis.
Further information on all of these steps will be given in conversation with your advisor and committee members.