Senior Thesis for Non-IS Majors

Arts, Science, and Engineering students who wish to write a senior thesis outside their major area of concentration may be eligible to write a Center for Interdisciplinary Studies (CIS) senior thesis. The student must satisfy the CIS Board that the topic falls outside the purview of any department or interdisciplinary program and that significant coursework and/or faculty-directed research relevant to the thesis topic has been accomplished.

The student must assemble a committee of three faculty readers with expertise in the disciplines involved, one of whom is designated as the chair of the committee and who is responsible for submitting a grade and designating the amount of credit for the thesis coursework. One member of the committee must be from a department or program in which the student is majoring. The topic must be approved by the CIS Board by the end of the first week of classes in the first semester of the student's senior year.

Students who would like to be recommended for degrees with honors by departments that require a thesis should be aware that these departments require a thesis within their own department and a CIS thesis will not usually count as a substitute. However, students may apply for a CIS thesis to count as an honors thesis in the Thesis Honors Program like a thesis in any other discipline. For the CIS thesis to qualify as an honors thesis, the chair of the thesis committee must be from a department or program in which the student is majoring.

Registration Procedures

Students interested in pursuing the Senior Thesis (Non-IS Majors) must submit the following information to the CIS program director for consideration:

  1. A one-page thesis prospectus, which briefly summarizes the thesis project design, including: the major research question or questions to be pursued in the thesis, including (if known) a brief summary of existing research; and an indication of the potential resources (library, bibliographic, data collection) that will be consulted for research;
  2. A letter from the faculty member stating an intent to serve as the primary advisor for the thesis and as the chair of the committee;
  3. The CIS Senior Thesis Candidate Application Form submitted to the Dean of the Colleges containing the signatures of the committee of three faculty readers

Course Enrollment

The IS major thesis CIS 94A/B (thesis) or 194A/B (honors thesis) requires Program Consent to be enrolled. The IS Program Administrator or Program Director will enroll non-majors(completing senior thesis but not IS major) in the thesis section each semester. Students will be emailed for the thesis section choice and the name of the thesis advisor. Note: Those students doing an honors thesis may qualify to graduate with honors, high honors or highest honors; this is at the discretion of the thesis advising committee and is different from Latin honors (such as cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude) which is determined on the basis of GPA.

Students doing a thesis are expected to have a one hour defense with their committees, at which time faculty will determine a grade, and if applicable, level of honors for the work.


Students are responsible for submitting the One on One form to the CIS office as soon as their CIS Thesis has been approved. The CIS Thesis Certification form must be submitted by the student's first reader to the CIS office after the thesis defense, and the Honors Form must be submitted by the student’s first reader to the Registrar’s office by the deadline publicized each year.

Research Resources

Students thinking about conducting a research project, such as a senior thesis, should be aware of the numerous support programs and opportunities that the StARR Center (Student Accessibility and Academic Resource) Center provides.

Tisch Library actively supports undergraduate thesis research. Students are encouraged to meet with librarians individually to gain an increased awareness of relevant library resources, and learn how to use them as efficiently and effectively as possible.

For academic consultation regarding the CIS Senior Thesis, contact:
Julie Dobrow, CIS Director
Office: 617-627-4744