The Senior Thesis Process

As a part of the General Education requirements here at Scripps, all students are required to complete a senior thesis before they graduate. No matter the major (chemistry, dance, media studies, economics, etc.) students complete a large encompassing research project (or equivalent for non-research based majors) that showcases the practical skills and knowledge acquired during their college career.

The thesis process happens either fall or spring semester of student’s final year, or depending on the department and student needs, some theses can take place over two semesters (fall-spring or summer-fall). Typically towards the end of junior year students will begin to look for thesis advisors, professors or faculty members who has expertise or knowledge about whatever that student is interested in. Alternatively, if a student has no clue what to do their senior thesis on, they can pick an advisor who has a broader range of knowledge and can start helping the student figure out their passions throughout the summer. It is required that there are two advisors per student as they are the ones who read and grade everything in the end. For off-campus majors like myself, students are required to have at least one Scripps advisor and remaining advisor can be hosted at one of the other 5Cs.

In my personal experience senior thesis is a daunting and oftentimes overwhelming process, but truly satisfying in the end. As an Environmental Analysis major on the Policy track at Pomona, I reached out to two Pomona professors that I had taken class with before and asked them to be my thesis readers. One of the professors I did research with over the summer and that helped me determine exactly what I wanted to pursue during the fall semester with my thesis.

Throughout the semester, I took an actual thesis class and we met once a week for three hours. This time was allotted for to meet with our primary advisor/reader and get or help, or to just block out time to write with our peers. Every thesis timeline and requirements are completely different from major to major. Fine arts major will usually do some creative project in conjunction with a short paper, whereas STEM or humanities majors will have the typical long research paper.

Despite its frustrations and time commitment, thesis is a great time to bond with the people in your major and other seniors at Scripps and across the 5Cs! It is also a perfect introduction into the field of research (or fine arts equivalent) for those pursuing graduate school.