In their senior year, all majors will complete one of three options to:
a) senior honors thesis (HT, two semesters);
b) senior special project (SSP, one semester), plus a fourth course in Requirement 4
c) an optional course such as an advanced research course or independent study that advances the area of concentration, plus a fourth course in Requirement 4.
Departmental approval required.
The Senior Special Project (SSP)
The Senior Special Project (SSP) gives RCD 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 RCD 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). Students who successfully complete the SSP will earn credit equivalent to one course (3 semester hour units).
The Senior Honors Thesis (HT)
The Senior Honors Thesis (HT) gives RCD seniors the opportunity to pursue a year-long research or critically engaged writing project that expands on 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.
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 RCD faculty or affiliate. Students undertaking a thesis must submit a Thesis Honors Candidate Form to Student Services within the first six weeks of the fall semester. In December, a student's progress on the HT will be assessed by the advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Students who have made significant progress in both research and writing will be approved to continue their work and register for the thesis for the spring semester.
The due date for the HT will be determined by the advisor in consultation with the student (typically early 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) 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. Students who successfully complete and defend the HT will earn credit equivalent to two courses (eight semester hour units).
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 this possibility with your primary advisor when you declare the major, and begin to plan your course work accordingly. Students intending to apply to write a Senior Honors Thesis are encouraged to complete their advanced research seminar requirement before their senior year.
Research Ethics & IRB Approval Process: The Tufts Institutional Review Board (SBER IRB) is a panel of Tufts' faculty, staff, and community members that reviews all human subject research to ensure the safety and welfare of its participants. Students who anticipate conducting interviews of any sort (including ethnographies or oral histories) should contact the IRB office as soon as possible for guidance on whether IRB approval must be sought for their project. There is plenty of help for the application process if a student project requires review, but thesis writers should inquire early and initiate the submission process early.