Honors Thesis

students researching

The Senior Honors Thesis is an optional, intensive original research and writing project students may choose to undertake to complete the History major. Students work on the thesis throughout their senior year, under the close guidance of a faculty advisor in the History department. The completed thesis is usually around 100 pages long; in most cases, it should be based on extensive research with primary sources, contextualized in the historical literature (historiography). Students interested in writing a thesis are responsible for coming up with a topic and asking a faculty member with expertise in that topic to serve as their advisor.

The Senior Honors Thesis is intended for those students who have a record of high performance in History courses and who have demonstrated adequate preparation in historical research and writing. It is preferable to have successfully completed a History Department research seminar before you begin the thesis; if not, you should have completed a significant research paper for a different course. In cases where a student has not been able to take a research seminar, the Senior Honors Thesis will serve as the capstone for the History major.

Students interested in writing a Senior Honors Thesis should read the relevant section of the Tufts Bulletin dealing with the Liberal Arts Thesis Honors Program. You may wish to discuss the possibility of writing the thesis with your History advisor when you declare the major, and begin to plan your history course work accordingly. The deadline for declaring an intent to do a thesis in 2024-25 is April 29, 2024. Please see further information about the application process below.

It is required that all students who choose to write a thesis in the History department enroll in HIST 198 (in the fall) and 199 (in the spring). HIST 198, the Senior Thesis Colloquium, focuses on research skills and methodology, and offers support for the thesis writing process, including peer review. It provides a community for thesis writers. In the fall of 2024, the colloquium will be taught by Professor Mass. In the spring of their senior year, thesis students will  register for HIST 199, and work independently to complete their thesis (under the guidance of their advisors). Upon successful completion of their thesis, students will receive a grade from their advisor for HIST 198 and 199. Each of these courses is worth 4 SHUs.

Applying to do an Honors Thesis 

There are four steps you are required to take to apply to write an honors thesis:

  1. Develop an idea for a general topic. 
  2. Set up a meeting with Professor Applebaum (who taught HIST 198 in fall 2023) to go over the thesis process one on one, discuss your initial idea for a topic, and brainstorm about potential advisors (e-mail Professor Applebaum to set up a time: Rachel.Applebaum@tufts.edu). 
  3. Find a faculty member in the department who is willing to advise your thesis (in most cases, advisors prefer to take on students who have taken a class with them and done well in that class; in any case, they will expect you to have sufficient background in the broader subject you wish to write about). Please note that not all proposals, even those by highly qualified students, can be accepted due to the limited number of theses a faculty member can be expected to direct and to the possibility that a faculty member with the appropriate expertise may unavailable. Therefore it is important to initiate your planning as early as possible.
  4. Fill out the Senior Honors Thesis Intent Form (the deadline for 2024-25 is April 29, 2024).

Additional Information about the Senior Honors Thesis

Honors Thesis Assistance

The Student Accessibility and Academic Resources (StAAR) Center provides supports for thesis writers.


The History Department is instituting a program of small grants to help fund research for the senior thesis. These grants will normally be for $200 or less, to help defray cost of archival and library research for the senior thesis, such as photocopying or scanning of documents. The money may be used in the U.S. or abroad. Grant applications will be reviewed by a department committee. Students should apply for such grants through their thesis advisors; applications require a brief thesis prospectus, an explanation of how the grant will be used, a supporting letter from the thesis advisor, and an up-to-date academic transcript.

Additional funding sources can be found at: https://students.tufts.edu/academic-advising-and-undergraduate-studies/scholarship-research/internal-research-opportunities.