The thesis is a year-long, self-designed scholarly project that is the capstone of a student’s work at Simon’s Rock. It’s required of everyone, not just students seeking to graduate with honors. It adds to the world’s storehouse of knowledge and becomes a convenient launching pad to graduate or professional school or a career.
A focus of students’ senior year is the Senior Thesis. A year-long, eight-credit project, it offers seniors the opportunity to complete a significant, extended study that is the culmination of their baccalaureate work at Simon’s Rock. Students are expected to work independently on the thesis projects they have defined and developed themselves while drawing on the resources of a faculty advisor and thesis committee. While projects differ in their modes of analysis and expression (e.g., some include performances or activities), they all result in a substantial written thesis that is bound and placed in the permanent collection of the College library.
In preparation for writing the senior thesis, students submit a preliminary thesis proposal in the spring of their junior year. This proposal, which includes a précis of the proposed subject matter and a list of possible committee members, is reviewed by the Policy and Program Committee, which approves assignments of thesis advisors. Just before the start of the fall semester of their senior year, rising seniors are required to participate in the Senior Thesis Workshop, a two-day orientation to the thesis writing process that presents thesis expectations, research and writing strategies, and an opportunity to work on the thesis proposal. The Senior Workshop concludes with a meeting between students and their respective thesis advisors. Throughout the year, thesis advisors and thesis committees meet regularly with students to evaluate progress and provide guidance.
Recent theses have taken many forms: Critical studies in literature, sociological research, exhibits of paintings or ceramics, musical compositions, novels, plays, translations, groups of poems or short stories, scientific experiments, solutions to significant mathematical problems, choreography, production and performance of dramatic works, economic and environmental impact studies, and combinations of many of these forms.