Rice University

Department of English

Guidelines for Senior Thesis (Effective Fall 2012)

The senior thesis allows students the opportunity to pursue a substantive research or creating writing project with a faculty advisor. Students who successfully complete the thesis with an A grade will be eligible to apply for Distinction in Research and Creative Works. Senior thesis students will be invited to present their work at an end-of-the-year departmental forum. Department application, and instructor permission are required for registration. Senior thesis application forms are available in the English department or may be downloaded from this website.

Typical Timeline

The Department encourages students to identify a research or creative topic late in their junior year, seek advice from a sponsoring faculty member, and then register for ENGL 494 (Senior Thesis Preparation) in the Fall and ENGL 495 (Senior Thesis) in the Spring. Students will be evaluated by the supervising faculty at the end of the Fall semester and must receive approval to advance to ENGL 495 in the Spring. Students who do not choose, or are not approved, to advance to the second semester will receive a letter grade for ENGL 494 and terminate further work on the senior thesis.

Note: Those students wanting to pursue a Spring-Fall option of their junior-senior year will need to complete the thesis application process, and register for 494 (Senior Thesis Preparation) in the spring semester of their junior year. Please see the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) for deadlines if pursuing an alternative thesis timeline. In exceptional cases, where a student has already completed a directed reading to satisfy research requirements, s/he may write a thesis in one semester with permission from the faculty advisor and the DUS.

Students admitted to Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program (RUSP) who wish to concurrently pursue a senior thesis in English may distribute some of their RUSP course credits in each semester toward English 493 (Directed Reading), English 494 (Senior Thesis Preparation), and English 495 (Senior Thesis). (Usually 1 credit for 493 or 494 and 3 credits for 495)


Eligible undergraduates must have a GPA of 3.8 in prior English classes at time of application. Students must have completed five courses required for the Major, including English 200 and 300 or be enrolled in the latter at the time of application. Majors are encouraged to enroll in a English 400 level capstone non-creative writing course a semester before writing their thesis.

Application Requirements

  1. Department thesis application form signed by the faculty member who will supervise the project.
  2. Unofficial transcript.
  3. A sample critical essay from another English course.
  4. A 500 word abstract of your proposed project.

Deadlines: Complete applications are due on or before the first day of pre-registration for the term in which thesis research will begin:  Monday April 13, 2015 for year-long thesis projects planned for AY 2015/16.

Registration Process

The DUS will review completed applications and students will be notified of approval within 3 days of submission.  At this point, students will be cleared to register for ENGL 494 (Senior Thesis Prep).  Please note that registration for English 493, 494 and 495 requires a special registration form, signed by the sponsoring faculty advisor.  The special registration form can be turned in to the registrar any time during the registration period. 

Thesis Length

While no specific page length governs thesis requirements, research projects will typically not be less than fifty pages excluding bibliography. The length of creative projects will be determined by the directing faculty on a case by case basis.

Final Submission and Presentations

Two copies of the final thesis must be submitted by the last day of final examinations for degree candidates. Samples are available for review in the English department. Presentations will take place on the last day of classes during the Spring semester. Check website for location and times. If you are applying for Distinction in Research and Creative Works check website for deadline.

Additional Research Support

Students are encouraged to use the Minter Summer Scholar Program to further research toward a senior thesis.