Writing Resources: Senior Thesis Timeline


October 8, 2014: Senior Honors Thesis Candidate Form (look on the Student Services website under "Student Forms") must be returned to Dowling Hall.  

April 30, 2015: Defenses MUST be completed by the last day of Reading Period.

May 1, 2015: Advisors must submit the "Recommendation for Senior Thesis Honors" form by the first day of exams. This form is only available from the Degree Audit Coordinator and is sent out to advisors in mid-April.)

 After your defense but before graduation, you should submit the final version of your Senior Honors Thesis in digital form to Tufts Digital Collections and Archives.

Senior Thesis Timeline

Over the summer between junior and senior year (or earlier!)

  • 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.
  • Begin drafting a thesis proposal
  • If required in your major department, submit your Thesis Proposal

Fall Semester

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 8 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
  • Conduct library, lab, or field research.
  • 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 provide regular (weekly) progress reports and/or written drafts to advisors.
  • Meet with an ARC writing consultant or join a writing group to help you stay on track!

November/ early December:

  • 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


  • Schedule a meeting with thesis director or thesis committee to discuss your work over winter break.Submit draft of first chapter or section of thesis to advisor.
  • Remember to include a bibliography with any draft you submit to your committee!
  • Plan a new timeline for Spring. Plan to have the Thesis substantially written BEFORE Spring Break.
  • Continue to send regular 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.
  • Set a date and time for your defense (in 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 be rewriting and revising by early 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.
  • 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.
  • Schedule a meeting with entire committee so there will be no unpleasant surprises during the defense.
  • Submit completed thesis with complete and accurate bibliography to your committee at least two weeks before your defense date.
  • DEFENSE must take place before finals begin in order to graduate in May.


  • First day of finals: 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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