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Requirements & Courses
Requirements & Courses
Past Senior Projects:
Students are welcome to read
any past Senior Special Projects
and Senior Honors Theses,
which are kept in the American
Studies office. Contact:
Cynthia Sanders at 617.627.2311.
The Senior Special Project (SSP)
The Senior Special Project (SSP) gives American Studies seniors the opportunity to pursue a semester-long project that integrates or expands upon their course of study, and expresses the culmination of their engagement with themes of Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora. The SSP will result in a research paper of 35 pages (minimum) which may include other media (e.g. a film, play, artwork, photography, musical production). SSPs can only be completed in the Fall semester of a student's senior year. Students who are approved to undertake SSPs register for AMER198, although there is not a course which meets under this rubric. Instead, each SSP-writer works closely and regularly with an advisor who is an American Studies Faculty or affiliate. The due date for the SSP will be determined by the advisor in consultation with the student (typically just prior to or during the final exam period). After submitting the SSP, the student will participate in an SSP "defense" that includes the advisor and a second reader. The defense is a formal presentation of the SSP research and results, followed by a question-and-answer period and some discussion, and then deliberation among the committee members (the advisor and second reader) about the grade for the SSP (AMER198). Students who successfully complete the SSP will earn credit equivalent to one course (3 semester hour units).
The Senior Honors Thesis (HT) gives American Studies seniors the opportunity to pursue a year-long research project that integrates or expands upon their course of study, and expresses the culmination of their studies within the major. The subject and scope of the HT are substantially greater than those of the SSP. Although the exact length and structure of the HT will be determined in consultation with the student's advisor, HTs are typically about 75 pages in length. The Senior Honors Thesis is especially recommended for students who anticipate applying for Graduate Study in American Studies, Ethnic Studies, or RCD-style tracks after graduation. Students who are approved to undertake HTs register for AMER199, although there is not a course which meets under this rubric. Instead, each HT-writer works closely and regularly with an advisor who is an American Studies Faculty or affiliate. Students undertaking a thesis must submit a Thesis Honors Candidate Form to Student Services in Dowling Hall within the first six weeks of the fall semester (deadline is usually mid-October). In December, a student's progress on the HT will be assessed by the advisor and the AMER Track Steering Committee or Director. Students who have made significant progress in both research and writing will be approved to register for AMER199 for the spring semester. The due date for the HT will be determined by the advisor in consultation with the student (typically mid- April). After submitting the HT, the student will participate in a final examination called a "defense" which includes a formal presentation of the HT research and results, a question-and-answer period and some discussion, and then deliberation among the committee members (the advisor and a second reader; an optional third reader may participate) about the grade for the HT (AMER199 – both semesters) and potential for thesis honors. The defense must take place prior to the first day of final examinations (the deadline by which the advisor must submit the HT grade to the degree audit coordinator in Dowling Hall). Students who successfully complete and defend the HT will earn credit equivalent to two courses (six semester hour units).
Students wishing to pursue an HT must be in good academic standing, have a GPA
of 3.4 or above, and have been on the Dean's List at least two times prior to
the senior year. With the support of an advisor, students who have not earned a
3.4 may petition
the American Studies Steering Committee for permission to undertake an HT.
Proposal Stage: In spring semester of junior year, students hoping
to undertake an SSP or HT should consult with their major advisors
about possible topics and research plans. By Friday, May 1, 2020 at
5pm, all prospective SSP and HT writers, including those studying
abroad, must submit a 2-page prospectus that incorporates the
The Proposal should be double-spaced, Times New Roman 12-point
font, in a word attachment. Students should submit their
prospectuses electronically to the
Chair of RCD, the
Track Director and
IRB Approval Process: Students who anticipate conducting interviews of any sort (including ethnographies or oral histories) must submit their prospectus to the IRB office (Institutional Review Board for Social, Behavioral & Educational Research) for guidance on whether IRB approval must be sought by the end of April 2020. If the IRB staff determines clearance is needed, a student must submit a complete IRB application over the summer, and have received approval to proceed with the project from the IRB office no later than the proposal due date of Friday September 11, 2020. Assistance for determining whether a project is likely to require IRB approval is readily available. Students can begin by contacting the IRB office staff (currently Lara Sloboda; Ashley Hicks) via email or drop-in at 20 Professor's Row.
Fall Course Registration: By the first Friday of classes of the senior year (September 11, 2020), all SSP/HT writers must register for one of the following courses: AMER198 for SSP, AMER199 for HT.
Annotated Bibliography: By Friday, September 18, 2020, all students approved for SSP/HT must submit an annotated bibliography that pertains to their project. The annotated bibliography should be signed and approved by the project advisor. The annotated bibliography should use Chicago Manual of Style formatting, and it should include the following:
Students should submit their proposals electronically to the Track Director and the Department administrator. Students will receive comments on their annotated bibliography from the track director, in partnership with the faculty advisor, by Friday October 2, 2020.
Mandatory Research Workshop: During the Fall Semester, 2020, students are required to attend a workshop with library staff, Tufts IRB, and the American Studies Track director. Students who fail to attend this workshop will be denied permission to proceed with their SSP/HT project. The workshop is tentatively scheduled for the week of September 21, 2020.
RCD Chair: Kendra Field
Summary of Important Dates:
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