Senior Thesis

You can write a senior thesis — a substantial piece of writing built on deep analysis of a topic you choose — by exploring fascinating topics in Russian literature, film, history, society, politics, or culture.


 The most valuable memories graduates say they have from college are:

  • a semester or year of study abroad
  • a meaningful class where a professor showed great interest in them as individuals
  • writing of a senior thesis under the guidance of a faculty member.

The experience of completing a senior thesis will:

  • challenge and deepen you intellectually
  • cultivate independence
  • enhance your research, organizational, and writing skills
  • allow you to work closely with a faculty member
  • become a defining capstone experience in your undergraduate education

Eligibility and application process

By March 1, the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Russian informs all junior majors with a GPA of 3.5 or better in the major that they are eligible to apply for department honors.

To apply

  • A student must enlist the support of a professor on the Russian faculty and must ensure the professor's willingness to act as his/her thesis advisor on a topic of the student's own devising. 
  • By April 15 of junior year, the student should submit a 250- to 300-word thesis proposal to the prospective faculty advisor. The proposal will then be shared with the full Russian faculty. The proposal should define the topic of the thesis and outline what the student hopes to accomplish. In addition, the student should explain how the topic relates to his/her intellectual interests more generally (why is this topic an appropriate culmination to his/her undergraduate studies?) and, where appropriate, how the topic figures into the student's future intellectual and academic plans.
  • Students submitting a proposal will be notified by May 1 of their junior year whether their proposal has been accepted.

Parameters for writing the honors thesis

  • Complete all requirements for the full major in Russian;
  • maintain a GPA of 3.5 in the major;
  • enroll in a three-credit 40000-level literature/journalism/culture course each semester of your senior year;
  • complete two three-credit directed readings courses—one in fall, the other in the spring—under the direction of your advisor;
  • present an oral defense of your thesis before the Russian faculty in late April/early May of your senior year;
  • and receive a grade of B+ or higher.

Honors thesis criteria

  • Length: 25-35 pages (including notes and bibliography)
  • Language: English
  • Primary Sources: Russian
  • Secondary Sources: primarily in English; some in Russian
  • Format: journal article submission with bibliography and footnotes
  • Advisor: from Russian faculty of the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures


The grade will be determined in accordance with the following criteria: 

  • The originality of the argument; 
  • The effective use of supporting evidence; 
  • And the extent to which the thesis is well-structured, well-edited, and uses a clear, cogent writing style.
  • The thesis should also adhere to accepted conventions for quoting and citing sources. 
  • The student's advisor is the primary grader of the thesis, but he/she will also consult other members of the Russian faculty and, if appropriate, faculty from other departments.

Recent senior thesis projects