Senior Thesis

Students are encouraged to conduct research with professors in the program and to have conversations with prospective faculty advisers about their research ideas. A senior thesis is normally a two-semester project, often involving work during the summer after your junior year (or before). To do a thesis, students register for Senior Thesis (ENVS 4951 and ENVS 4952) during the senior year, and work with their faculty thesis adviser to submit a course contract by the drop/add date each semester. Students with a GPA of 3.4 in major and 3.3 overall, at the beginning of their senior year, qualify for the Senior Honors Thesis (ENVS 4961 and 4962). To do an honors thesis students provide a course contract and a thesis proposal (1-3 pages) to the Environmental Studies Associate Director, Tara Pisani Gareau, between the end of your junior year and the drop-add date in the fall semester. In the spring of senior year the completed honors thesis, signed by the faculty research adviser, is due to the Environmental Studies faculty committee by April 20. Theses that meet these requirements would normally meet the Program Honors requirements. Honors will be awarded upon successful completion of a thesis based on the proposed research project as evaluated by the faculty thesis adviser, approval of the thesis. and the candidate’s academic record by the Environmental Studies faculty committee.

Students can also write a senior thesis under the Arts and Sciences Honors and Scholar of the College programs.

The timeline for completing a senior thesis varies among students and depends on the nature of the research, opportunities to conduct the research, and expectations of the thesis advisor. Ideally the process begins in the student's junior year. Here is a general timeline for guidance.

General Timeline for Completing a Senior Thesis

Junior year:

  1. Take ENVS3600 Research Methods in Environmental Studies (counts as a foundation course, requirement C)
  2. Identify a thesis advisor through conversations with BC faculty about your ideas for a senior thesis.
  3. If your thesis research would benefit from financial support, submit a proposal for an Advanced Study Grant for Thesis Research. (Visit the website for Advanced Study Grants for more information.)
  4. Some students work on a senior thesis through the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). Students apply directly to REU sites. (Visit the NSF REUwebsite for more information.)
  5. Spring registration period: In order to register for ENVS 4951/ENVS 4952 Senior Thesis or ENVS 4961/ENVS4962 Senior Honors Thesis in the fall, submit for approval a course contract to the Director of Environmental Studies.
  6. For research on human subjects (e.g. research involving interviews and surveys), submit an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application. (Visit the BC CyberIRB website for guidelines.)

Summer before senior year:

  1. Collect data.
  2. Read research articles that inform your research topic, questions, and methods.

Fall of senior year:

  1. Collect data
  2. Summarize and analyze data.
  3. Create figures and tables.
  4. Conduct a thorough literature review.
  5. Write some sections of the thesis (e.g. Introduction, Methods).

Spring of senior year:

  1. Write the remaining sections of thesis (e.g. Result, Discussion, Abstract).
  2. Submit and revise several drafts to your advisor (deadlines should be worked out with the advisor and included in the course contract).
  3. April 20: Submit final thesis to the Director of Environmental Studies.
  4. Discuss with your thesis advisor the possibility of depositing the thesis in eScholarship@BC, a searchable database of undergraduate, graduate, and faculty scholarship.