The Undergraduate Program

Writing a Senior Thesis

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. A thesis is required (but not sufficient) for a student to receive departmental honors. For details about the thesis, see pages 15-16 of the  Undergraduate Handbook.

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. 

Senior Thesis Seminars/Independent Thesis Writing

It is strongly recommended that the thesis be written in one of the Senior Thesis Seminars (HIST UN3838/UN3839). Students must 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 UN3840/1 Independent Senior Thesis in History for one or two terms (though only independent thesis writers who complete the thesis in two consecutive terms may compete for departmental honors and prizes in the spring). Independent thesis writers should identify an appropriate advisor in the term before they begin the thesis and should submit a proposal to the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Undergraduate Administrator before the thesis term (August 1st for the fall and December 1st for the spring).

2018-2019 Thesis Seminar Application (Due: March 27th, 2018 at 5:00 PM)

2018-2019 Independent Senior Thesis Application (Due: August 1st for fall, or December 1st for spring)

Role of the Second Reader Info Sheet (second readers can be reached out to and chosen before the thesis term begins but must reported to the department early in the first term)

Senior Thesis Funding Opportunities

  • Fellowships for Senior Thesis Research in Europe

The History Department is delighted to announce the receipt of a major three-year grant ($75,000 per year) from the President’s Global Innovation Fund, which will be used to provide expanded research opportunities for undergraduate History majors doing senior theses on European history topics or on topics in other fields using sources from European archives.   This program, which is being led by Professors Susan Pedersen and Charly Coleman, will allow eight to ten rising seniors to conduct four to six weeks of research in European archives.

The grant will also support supplemental workshop and mentoring activities throughout the year (culminating in a three-day workshop in July), two graduate student mentors, and two Columbia faculty members at the Columbia Global Center Europe (CGE) in Paris.  Paul LeClerc, Director of the Global Center Europe, and Barbara Rockenbach and John Tofanelli, respectively director of the Humanities and History libraries, and research librarian for the Anglo-American collections at Columbia, have generously agreed to partner with us in developing this pilot program.  The program will also draw on the resources of Global Center Istanbul as well as an extensive network of contacts and collaborations throughout Europe. The grants will be approximately $4,500 and proposals are due March 23, 2018.

The librarians of the Columbia University Libraries are happy to help you identify sources and plan your research.  A list of librarians available for consultation in different fields can be found hereIn addition, you may find the Guide to British Archives and the Guide to European Archives useful for research purposes.

Fellowships for Senior Thesis Research in Europe (February 7th, 23rd and 26th)

Senior Thesis Research in Europe Fund Application (Due: March 23rd)

  • 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. Only CC Junior majors intending to write a thesis are eligible.

Edwin Robbins Summer Research Fellowship Application (Due: April 4th at 5:00 PM)

  • CC/GS Senior Thesis Funding

Columbia College and the School of General Studies both offer 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 the applications are generally filed during the fall thesis term. The process is explained in detail once students are registered for a senior thesis course.

Columbia College Senior Thesis Grant Application

General Studies Senior Thesis Grant Application