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.
Each student will be issued an exam that consists of the two fields they have selected in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Each of the two fields will contain three questions. The student will need to answer two questions in each field for a total of 4 answers. The student is allowed a total of three hours to answer the four questions.
The oral defense is 30-minutes long. The student will begin the exam with a presentation of the thesis that lasts roughly five minutes in the language in which he/she specializes, i.e., Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. The examiners will respond with questions in the same language for an additional five to ten minutes. After this the remainder of the defense, roughly 15 minutes, will be conducted in English.