Writing Resources

Senior Thesis Timeline

Fall Semester

Over the summer, you should:

  • Submit your Proposal (if required in your major department).
  • Conduct background research to determine viability of topic.
  • Decide on a topic or approach.
  • Contact possible faculty advisors and readers.
  • Seek funding for your research; note funding deadlines.
  • Determine whether your research methods will require IRB approval.

By the end of September, you should:

  • Finalize your decision to write an honors thesis.
  • Finalize your topic and research approach.
  • Confirm thesis director and secondary reader(s).
  • Think about length, breadth, and size of finished Thesis; consider chapter breakdowns or other forms of presenting the finished product.
  • Attend informational meetings and understand all requirements.
  • Create your own project timeline and goals.

October and November:

  • Conduct research in library and online; conduct lab research and/or field research (some may have already conducted field research over summer).
  • Meet with librarians for guidance on conducting advanced library or electronic research.
  • Gather, record, and categorize information as you find it; keep accurate bibliographic notes and organized files.
  • Keep a journal to record your ideas related to thesis topic and research discoveries.
  • Begin writing! You should be able to draft some introductory sections of your thesis, including your hypothesis, governing question, or thesis statement, as well as your literature review, methodology, and definitions of terms.
  • Establish a regular meeting time with primary advisor and committee members.
  • Email weekly progress reports to advisors.
  • OCTOBER 1 DEADLINE: Submit signed "Thesis Honors Candidate" Form to Dowling Hall Student Services Desk. The chairperson of your major department must sign this form. The form can be downloaded from the Registrar's website at: http://uss.tufts.edu/registrar/SS_StudentForms.asp


  • Reassess chapter breakdowns; work on outline of Thesis as whole. Begin to draft a chapter (not necessarily the first chapter.)
  • Mid-year assessment: You and your advisor should assess your progress so far to determine if you should continue to pursue the Honors Thesis in the spring or switch to a senior project or independent study. If you decide to continue with the Honors Thesis, you will receive a Y (for year-long) instead of a grade on your report card in January.
  • Plan detailed research and writing agenda for Winter Break. If you are doing a traditional research-based thesis, you should plan to write a substantial amount over Break!

Spring Semester


  • Submit draft of first chapter or section of thesis to advisor when you return from Break.
  • Remember to include a bibliography with any draft you submit to your committee!
  • Schedule a meeting with thesis director or thesis committee to discuss your work over Break.
  • Plan a new timeline for Spring. Plan to have the Thesis substantially written BEFORE Spring Break.
  • Continue to send regular email progress reports to your committee.

February and March:

  • Write thesis section by section and submit drafts to primary advisor for revision comments.
  • Be very careful to cite sources correctly and incorporate them into your writing so as to avoid accidental plagiarism.
  • Spring Break: Use this time for major writing and rewriting. You should have a substantially-complete draft done by end of spring break.
  • Set a date and time for your defense (in late April); all three committee members must be present at the defense. Remember to book a room that has everything you need (for example, internet hook-up or a movie-screen).


  • You should begin rewriting and revising by April. Now is the time to pay attention to clarity of expression and prose style; you may need to work on major structural changes to your outline or clarify your logic.
  • Schedule a meeting with entire committee so there will be no unpleasant surprises during the Defense.
  • Rewrite and revise according to your advisors' recommendations. Be sure the committee is in agreement on what they expect from you during the revision process.
  • Submit completed thesis with complete and accurate bibliography to your committee at least two weeks before your defense date.
  • Late April: DEFENSE must be scheduled by this time in order to graduate in May.


  • Early May: DEADLINE for "Recommendation for Thesis Honors" form to be submitted by Honors Thesis advisor to the Degree Audit Coordinator in Dowling Hall.
  • Your committee may ask you to correct or rewrite portions of your thesis after the defense but before you submit it to archives.
  • Prepare final document for archives. See online guide for instructions and specifications.
  • Enjoy Senior Week! You've earned it!

Back to Senior Thesis Support main page.





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