Senior Thesis

The Senior Thesis is the culmination of the training students receive in the department. It is researched and written under the close supervision of a faculty adviser, evaluated with detailed reports by the adviser and a second reader, and defended orally in a 30-minute session that is conducted in part in the student’s language of specialization. Most often, the thesis is a classical scholarly research essay, though it may also take the form of substantial and annotated literary translation, documentary film, or other creative genre.

A senior thesis should accomplish the following goals:

  • Define a research question, and formulate and advance a clear claim (hypothesis) or set of claims.
  • Gather, present, and analyze evidence in support of its claim(s).
  • Review and engage the scholarship of others on the subject.
  • Assess critically the strengths and weaknesses of its own logic, evidence, and findings.
  • Relate its conclusions to a larger context.
  • Make an original contribution to knowledge. 
The thesis is read by two faculty members, the advisor being one. Each determines a grade independently, and the final grade is the average of the two.
Only theses that cite a number of East Asian language sources will be considered for the annual EAS Department Thesis Prize. Such theses will also be considered for the annual EAS Program Thesis Prize. No student can win both prizes.

Senior Departmental Examination and Senior Thesis Defense

Senior departmental examination and senior thesis defense are designed to provide a retrospective of the student's academic work in the department. This discussion will take the form of a conversation between the student and a faculty committee, and it will center on the senior independent work, as well as larger questions in the field of East Asian Studies that inform it. The students will be asked to reflect on the process of their research: the original source of interest in their research topic; the process of fleshing out the architecture of their project; and difficulties and creative discoveries of their research and writing. The conversation will begin in the students’ primary research language: Korean, Japanese, or Chinese.