History majors have the option of writing a senior thesis during the two terms of their senior year. In unique circumstances, students may be given permission to write the thesis in one term. Writing a senior thesis involves original research, normally with extensive use of primary materials. Theses ought to be between 13,000 and 17,000 words, with a lower limit of 10,000 words and an upper limit of 20,000 words, for exceptional cases, not including annotation and bibliography. Determinations of honors rest on quality, not length. Verbosity and diffuseness militate against the awarding of honors and prizes. A thesis is required-but not sufficient-for a student to receive departmental honors.
Senior Thesis Seminar Pre-requisite: Students intending to write a senior thesis should take an Undergraduate History Seminar in which they develop a substantial research paper by the conclusion of their Junior year.
Thesis Seminars/Independent Writing: It is strongly recommended that the thesis be written in one of the Senior Thesis Seminars (HIST C4398/C4399). Students submit applications for the year-long Senior Thesis Seminar in the spring semester of their junior year. Students may also write a thesis independently with a faculty advisor. In this case, students register for the faculty member's section of HIST C4997/8 Independent Senior Thesis in History for one or two terms. Independent thesis writers should identify an appropriate advisor in the term before they begin the thesis and should submit an advisor-approved proposal to the Director of Undergraduate Studies before the beginning of the thesis term (August 1st for the fall and December 1st for the spring). Once the project is approved, students should contact the Undergraduate Administrator for assistance with registration.
Thesis Seminar Application: PDF format
Independent Senior Thesis Proposal Guidelines: PDF format
Thesis Funding Opportunities
Edwin Robbins Summer Research Fellowship: The department offers two fellowships of $2,500 each year to support summer research in preparation for writing a senior thesis. Interested students must identify a faculty member willing to supervise the research project and submit a proposal of no more than 1,500 words, with evidence of the faculty supervisor's support (a faculty signature on the proposal itself, or an email by the application deadline from the faculty member to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.) The Robbins fellowships are fully explained at the Prospective Thesis Writers Meeting held every spring.
Edwin Robbins Summer Research Fellowship: DOC format
CC/GS Thesis Funding: Columbia College and the School of General Studies both offer seniors grants towards writing senior theses. Grant amounts normally range from $50 to $500 and cover expenses like photocopying and traveling. The two schools have different deadlines, but these applications are made during the senior year.
Columbia College Thesis Grant Application: DOC format
General Studies Thesis Grant Application: DOC format