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Search the site, search suggestions, to thesis or not to thesis.

when do you have to write a thesis in college

For many students at Harvard, whether or not to write a thesis is a question that comes up at least once during our four years.

For some concentrations, thesising is mandatory – you know when you declare that you will write a senior thesis, and this often factors into the decision-making process when it comes to declaring that field. For other concentrations, thesising is pretty rare – sometimes slightly discouraged by the department, depending on how well the subject lends itself to independent undergraduate research. 

In my concentration, Neuroscience on the Neurobiology track, thesising is absolutely optional. If you want to do research and writing a thesis is something that interests you, you can totally go for it, if you like research but just don’t want to write a super long paper detailing it, that’s cool too, and if you decide that neither is for you, there’s no pressure. 

plot graph

Some Thesis Work From My Thesis That Wasn't Meant To Be

This is from back when I thought I was writing a thesis! Yay data! Claire Hoffman

While this is super nice from the perspective that it allows students to create the undergraduate experiences that work best for them, it can be really confusing if you’re someone like me who can struggle a little with the weight of such a (seemingly) huge decision. So for anyone pondering this question, or thinking they might be in the future, here’s Claire’s patented list of advice:

1.    If you really want to thesis, thesis.

If it’s going to be something you’re passionate about, do it! When it comes to spending that much time doing something, if you’re excited about it and feel like it’s something you really want to do, it will be a rewarding experience. Don’t feel discouraged, yes it will be tough, but you can absolutely do this!

2.    If you really don’t want to write one, don’t let anyone tell you you should.  This is more the camp I fell into myself. I had somehow ended up writing a junior thesis proposal, and suddenly found myself on track to thesis, something I hadn’t fully intended to do. I almost stuck with it, but it mostly would have been because I felt guilty leaving my lab after leading them on- and guilt will not write a thesis for you. I decided to drop at the beginning of senior year, and pandemic or no, it was definitely one of the best decisions I made.

3.    This is one of those times where what your friends are doing doesn’t matter. I’m also someone who can (sometimes) be susceptible to peer pressure. Originally, I was worried because so many of my friends were planning to write theses that I would feel left out if I did not also do it. This turned out to be unfounded because one, a bunch of my friends also dropped their theses (senior year in a global pandemic is hard ok?), and two, I realized that even if they were all writing them and loved it, their joy would not mean that I could not be happy NOT writing one. It just wasn’t how I wanted to spend my (limited) time as a senior! On the other hand, if none of your friends are planning to thesis but you really want to, don’t let that stop you. Speaking from experience, they’ll happily hang out with you while you work, and ply you with snacks and fun times during your breaks.

Overall, deciding to write a thesis can be an intensely personal choice. At the end of the day, you just have to do what’s right for you! And as we come up on thesis submission deadlines, good luck to all my amazing senior friends out there who are turning in theses right now.  

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Writing Tutorial Services

How to write a thesis statement, what is a thesis statement.

Almost all of us—even if we don’t do it consciously—look early in an essay for a one- or two-sentence condensation of the argument or analysis that is to follow. We refer to that condensation as a thesis statement.

Why Should Your Essay Contain a Thesis Statement?

  • to test your ideas by distilling them into a sentence or two
  • to better organize and develop your argument
  • to provide your reader with a “guide” to your argument

In general, your thesis statement will accomplish these goals if you think of the thesis as the answer to the question your paper explores.

How Can You Write a Good Thesis Statement?

Here are some helpful hints to get you started. You can either scroll down or select a link to a specific topic.

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is Assigned

Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question. For example, if your assignment is, “Write a report to the local school board explaining the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class,” turn the request into a question like, “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” After you’ve chosen the question your essay will answer, compose one or two complete sentences answering that question.

Q: “What are the potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class?” A: “The potential benefits of using computers in a fourth-grade class are . . .”
A: “Using computers in a fourth-grade class promises to improve . . .”

The answer to the question is the thesis statement for the essay.

[ Back to top ]

How to Generate a Thesis Statement if the Topic is not Assigned

Even if your assignment doesn’t ask a specific question, your thesis statement still needs to answer a question about the issue you’d like to explore. In this situation, your job is to figure out what question you’d like to write about.

A good thesis statement will usually include the following four attributes:

  • take on a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree
  • deal with a subject that can be adequately treated given the nature of the assignment
  • express one main idea
  • assert your conclusions about a subject

Let’s see how to generate a thesis statement for a social policy paper.

Brainstorm the topic . Let’s say that your class focuses upon the problems posed by changes in the dietary habits of Americans. You find that you are interested in the amount of sugar Americans consume.

You start out with a thesis statement like this:

Sugar consumption.

This fragment isn’t a thesis statement. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Furthermore, your reader doesn’t know what you want to say about sugar consumption.

Narrow the topic . Your readings about the topic, however, have led you to the conclusion that elementary school children are consuming far more sugar than is healthy.

You change your thesis to look like this:

Reducing sugar consumption by elementary school children.

This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one segment of the population: elementary school children. Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that children consume more sugar than they used to, not everyone would agree on what should be done or who should do it. You should note that this fragment is not a thesis statement because your reader doesn’t know your conclusions on the topic.

Take a position on the topic. After reflecting on the topic a little while longer, you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that something should be done to reduce the amount of sugar these children consume.

You revise your thesis statement to look like this:

More attention should be paid to the food and beverage choices available to elementary school children.

This statement asserts your position, but the terms more attention and food and beverage choices are vague.

Use specific language . You decide to explain what you mean about food and beverage choices , so you write:

Experts estimate that half of elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar.

This statement is specific, but it isn’t a thesis. It merely reports a statistic instead of making an assertion.

Make an assertion based on clearly stated support. You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this:

Because half of all American elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, schools should be required to replace the beverages in soda machines with healthy alternatives.

Notice how the thesis answers the question, “What should be done to reduce sugar consumption by children, and who should do it?” When you started thinking about the paper, you may not have had a specific question in mind, but as you became more involved in the topic, your ideas became more specific. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights.

How to Tell a Strong Thesis Statement from a Weak One

1. a strong thesis statement takes some sort of stand..

Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements:

There are some negative and positive aspects to the Banana Herb Tea Supplement.

This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand. Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague.

Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers.

This is a strong thesis because it takes a stand, and because it's specific.

2. A strong thesis statement justifies discussion.

Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion. If your assignment is to write a paper on kinship systems, using your own family as an example, you might come up with either of these two thesis statements:

My family is an extended family.

This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. Your reader won’t be able to tell the point of the statement, and will probably stop reading.

While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family.

This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view. A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point.

3. A strong thesis statement expresses one main idea.

Readers need to be able to see that your paper has one main point. If your thesis statement expresses more than one idea, then you might confuse your readers about the subject of your paper. For example:

Companies need to exploit the marketing potential of the Internet, and Web pages can provide both advertising and customer support.

This is a weak thesis statement because the reader can’t decide whether the paper is about marketing on the Internet or Web pages. To revise the thesis, the relationship between the two ideas needs to become more clear. One way to revise the thesis would be to write:

Because the Internet is filled with tremendous marketing potential, companies should exploit this potential by using Web pages that offer both advertising and customer support.

This is a strong thesis because it shows that the two ideas are related. Hint: a great many clear and engaging thesis statements contain words like because , since , so , although , unless , and however .

4. A strong thesis statement is specific.

A thesis statement should show exactly what your paper will be about, and will help you keep your paper to a manageable topic. For example, if you're writing a seven-to-ten page paper on hunger, you might say:

World hunger has many causes and effects.

This is a weak thesis statement for two major reasons. First, world hunger can’t be discussed thoroughly in seven to ten pages. Second, many causes and effects is vague. You should be able to identify specific causes and effects. A revised thesis might look like this:

Hunger persists in Glandelinia because jobs are scarce and farming in the infertile soil is rarely profitable.

This is a strong thesis statement because it narrows the subject to a more specific and manageable topic, and it also identifies the specific causes for the existence of hunger.

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Writing a paper: thesis statements, basics of thesis statements.

The thesis statement is the brief articulation of your paper's central argument and purpose. You might hear it referred to as simply a "thesis." Every scholarly paper should have a thesis statement, and strong thesis statements are concise, specific, and arguable. Concise means the thesis is short: perhaps one or two sentences for a shorter paper. Specific means the thesis deals with a narrow and focused topic, appropriate to the paper's length. Arguable means that a scholar in your field could disagree (or perhaps already has!).

Strong thesis statements address specific intellectual questions, have clear positions, and use a structure that reflects the overall structure of the paper. Read on to learn more about constructing a strong thesis statement.

Being Specific

This thesis statement has no specific argument:

Needs Improvement: In this essay, I will examine two scholarly articles to find similarities and differences.

This statement is concise, but it is neither specific nor arguable—a reader might wonder, "Which scholarly articles? What is the topic of this paper? What field is the author writing in?" Additionally, the purpose of the paper—to "examine…to find similarities and differences" is not of a scholarly level. Identifying similarities and differences is a good first step, but strong academic argument goes further, analyzing what those similarities and differences might mean or imply.

Better: In this essay, I will argue that Bowler's (2003) autocratic management style, when coupled with Smith's (2007) theory of social cognition, can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover.

The new revision here is still concise, as well as specific and arguable.  We can see that it is specific because the writer is mentioning (a) concrete ideas and (b) exact authors.  We can also gather the field (business) and the topic (management and employee turnover). The statement is arguable because the student goes beyond merely comparing; he or she draws conclusions from that comparison ("can reduce the expenses associated with employee turnover").

Making a Unique Argument

This thesis draft repeats the language of the writing prompt without making a unique argument:

Needs Improvement: The purpose of this essay is to monitor, assess, and evaluate an educational program for its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I will provide suggestions for improvement.

You can see here that the student has simply stated the paper's assignment, without articulating specifically how he or she will address it. The student can correct this error simply by phrasing the thesis statement as a specific answer to the assignment prompt.

Better: Through a series of student interviews, I found that Kennedy High School's antibullying program was ineffective. In order to address issues of conflict between students, I argue that Kennedy High School should embrace policies outlined by the California Department of Education (2010).

Words like "ineffective" and "argue" show here that the student has clearly thought through the assignment and analyzed the material; he or she is putting forth a specific and debatable position. The concrete information ("student interviews," "antibullying") further prepares the reader for the body of the paper and demonstrates how the student has addressed the assignment prompt without just restating that language.

Creating a Debate

This thesis statement includes only obvious fact or plot summary instead of argument:

Needs Improvement: Leadership is an important quality in nurse educators.

A good strategy to determine if your thesis statement is too broad (and therefore, not arguable) is to ask yourself, "Would a scholar in my field disagree with this point?" Here, we can see easily that no scholar is likely to argue that leadership is an unimportant quality in nurse educators.  The student needs to come up with a more arguable claim, and probably a narrower one; remember that a short paper needs a more focused topic than a dissertation.

Better: Roderick's (2009) theory of participatory leadership  is particularly appropriate to nurse educators working within the emergency medicine field, where students benefit most from collegial and kinesthetic learning.

Here, the student has identified a particular type of leadership ("participatory leadership"), narrowing the topic, and has made an arguable claim (this type of leadership is "appropriate" to a specific type of nurse educator). Conceivably, a scholar in the nursing field might disagree with this approach. The student's paper can now proceed, providing specific pieces of evidence to support the arguable central claim.

Choosing the Right Words

This thesis statement uses large or scholarly-sounding words that have no real substance:

Needs Improvement: Scholars should work to seize metacognitive outcomes by harnessing discipline-based networks to empower collaborative infrastructures.

There are many words in this sentence that may be buzzwords in the student's field or key terms taken from other texts, but together they do not communicate a clear, specific meaning. Sometimes students think scholarly writing means constructing complex sentences using special language, but actually it's usually a stronger choice to write clear, simple sentences. When in doubt, remember that your ideas should be complex, not your sentence structure.

Better: Ecologists should work to educate the U.S. public on conservation methods by making use of local and national green organizations to create a widespread communication plan.

Notice in the revision that the field is now clear (ecology), and the language has been made much more field-specific ("conservation methods," "green organizations"), so the reader is able to see concretely the ideas the student is communicating.

Leaving Room for Discussion

This thesis statement is not capable of development or advancement in the paper:

Needs Improvement: There are always alternatives to illegal drug use.

This sample thesis statement makes a claim, but it is not a claim that will sustain extended discussion. This claim is the type of claim that might be appropriate for the conclusion of a paper, but in the beginning of the paper, the student is left with nowhere to go. What further points can be made? If there are "always alternatives" to the problem the student is identifying, then why bother developing a paper around that claim? Ideally, a thesis statement should be complex enough to explore over the length of the entire paper.

Better: The most effective treatment plan for methamphetamine addiction may be a combination of pharmacological and cognitive therapy, as argued by Baker (2008), Smith (2009), and Xavier (2011).

In the revised thesis, you can see the student make a specific, debatable claim that has the potential to generate several pages' worth of discussion. When drafting a thesis statement, think about the questions your thesis statement will generate: What follow-up inquiries might a reader have? In the first example, there are almost no additional questions implied, but the revised example allows for a good deal more exploration.

Thesis Mad Libs

If you are having trouble getting started, try using the models below to generate a rough model of a thesis statement! These models are intended for drafting purposes only and should not appear in your final work.

  • In this essay, I argue ____, using ______ to assert _____.
  • While scholars have often argued ______, I argue______, because_______.
  • Through an analysis of ______, I argue ______, which is important because_______.

Words to Avoid and to Embrace

When drafting your thesis statement, avoid words like explore, investigate, learn, compile, summarize , and explain to describe the main purpose of your paper. These words imply a paper that summarizes or "reports," rather than synthesizing and analyzing.

Instead of the terms above, try words like argue, critique, question , and interrogate . These more analytical words may help you begin strongly, by articulating a specific, critical, scholarly position.

Read Kayla's blog post for tips on taking a stand in a well-crafted thesis statement.

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Developing a Thesis Statement

Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you’ll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.

Keep in mind that not all papers require thesis statements . If in doubt, please consult your instructor for assistance.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement . . .

  • Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
  • Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
  • Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Is generally located near the end of the introduction ; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
  • Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

Not all papers require thesis statements! Ask your instructor if you’re in doubt whether you need one.

Identify a topic

Your topic is the subject about which you will write. Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic; or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper.

Consider what your assignment asks you to do

Inform yourself about your topic, focus on one aspect of your topic, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts, generate a topic from an assignment.

Below are some possible topics based on sample assignments.

Sample assignment 1

Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II.

Identified topic

Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis

This topic avoids generalities such as “Spain” and “World War II,” addressing instead on Franco’s role (a specific aspect of “Spain”) and the diplomatic relations between the Allies and Axis (a specific aspect of World War II).

Sample assignment 2

Analyze one of Homer’s epic similes in the Iliad.

The relationship between the portrayal of warfare and the epic simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64.

This topic focuses on a single simile and relates it to a single aspect of the Iliad ( warfare being a major theme in that work).

Developing a Thesis Statement–Additional information

Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic, or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper. You’ll want to read your assignment carefully, looking for key terms that you can use to focus your topic.

Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II

After you’ve identified the key words in your topic, the next step is to read about them in several sources, or generate as much information as possible through an analysis of your topic. Obviously, the more material or knowledge you have, the more possibilities will be available for a strong argument. For the sample assignment above, you’ll want to look at books and articles on World War II in general, and Spain’s neutrality in particular.

As you consider your options, you must decide to focus on one aspect of your topic. This means that you cannot include everything you’ve learned about your topic, nor should you go off in several directions. If you end up covering too many different aspects of a topic, your paper will sprawl and be unconvincing in its argument, and it most likely will not fulfull the assignment requirements.

For the sample assignment above, both Spain’s neutrality and World War II are topics far too broad to explore in a paper. You may instead decide to focus on Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis , which narrows down what aspects of Spain’s neutrality and World War II you want to discuss, as well as establishes a specific link between those two aspects.

Before you go too far, however, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts. Try to avoid topics that already have too much written about them (i.e., “eating disorders and body image among adolescent women”) or that simply are not important (i.e. “why I like ice cream”). These topics may lead to a thesis that is either dry fact or a weird claim that cannot be supported. A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times . Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Derive a main point from topic

Once you have a topic, you will have to decide what the main point of your paper will be. This point, the “controlling idea,” becomes the core of your argument (thesis statement) and it is the unifying idea to which you will relate all your sub-theses. You can then turn this “controlling idea” into a purpose statement about what you intend to do in your paper.

Look for patterns in your evidence

Compose a purpose statement.

Consult the examples below for suggestions on how to look for patterns in your evidence and construct a purpose statement.

  • Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis
  • Franco turned to the Allies when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from the Axis

Possible conclusion:

Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: Franco’s desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power.

Purpose statement

This paper will analyze Franco’s diplomacy during World War II to see how it contributed to Spain’s neutrality.
  • The simile compares Simoisius to a tree, which is a peaceful, natural image.
  • The tree in the simile is chopped down to make wheels for a chariot, which is an object used in warfare.

At first, the simile seems to take the reader away from the world of warfare, but we end up back in that world by the end.

This paper will analyze the way the simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64 moves in and out of the world of warfare.

Derive purpose statement from topic

To find out what your “controlling idea” is, you have to examine and evaluate your evidence . As you consider your evidence, you may notice patterns emerging, data repeated in more than one source, or facts that favor one view more than another. These patterns or data may then lead you to some conclusions about your topic and suggest that you can successfully argue for one idea better than another.

For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.

Sometimes you won’t be able to find a focus or identify your “spin” or specific argument immediately. Like some writers, you might begin with a purpose statement just to get yourself going. A purpose statement is one or more sentences that announce your topic and indicate the structure of the paper but do not state the conclusions you have drawn . Thus, you might begin with something like this:

  • This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
  • I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.

At some point, you can turn a purpose statement into a thesis statement. As you think and write about your topic, you can restrict, clarify, and refine your argument, crafting your thesis statement to reflect your thinking.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Compose a draft thesis statement

If you are writing a paper that will have an argumentative thesis and are having trouble getting started, the techniques in the table below may help you develop a temporary or “working” thesis statement.

Begin with a purpose statement that you will later turn into a thesis statement.

Assignment: Discuss the history of the Reform Party and explain its influence on the 1990 presidential and Congressional election.

Purpose Statement: This paper briefly sketches the history of the grassroots, conservative, Perot-led Reform Party and analyzes how it influenced the economic and social ideologies of the two mainstream parties.

Question-to-Assertion

If your assignment asks a specific question(s), turn the question(s) into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.

Assignment : What do Aylmer and Rappaccini have to be proud of? Why aren’t they satisfied with these things? How does pride, as demonstrated in “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” lead to unexpected problems?

Beginning thesis statement: Alymer and Rappaccinni are proud of their great knowledge; however, they are also very greedy and are driven to use their knowledge to alter some aspect of nature as a test of their ability. Evil results when they try to “play God.”

Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main idea: The reason some toys succeed in the market is that they appeal to the consumers’ sense of the ridiculous and their basic desire to laugh at themselves.

Make a list of the ideas that you want to include; consider the ideas and try to group them.

  • nature = peaceful
  • war matériel = violent (competes with 1?)
  • need for time and space to mourn the dead
  • war is inescapable (competes with 3?)

Use a formula to arrive at a working thesis statement (you will revise this later).

  • although most readers of _______ have argued that _______, closer examination shows that _______.
  • _______ uses _______ and _____ to prove that ________.
  • phenomenon x is a result of the combination of __________, __________, and _________.

What to keep in mind as you draft an initial thesis statement

Beginning statements obtained through the methods illustrated above can serve as a framework for planning or drafting your paper, but remember they’re not yet the specific, argumentative thesis you want for the final version of your paper. In fact, in its first stages, a thesis statement usually is ill-formed or rough and serves only as a planning tool.

As you write, you may discover evidence that does not fit your temporary or “working” thesis. Or you may reach deeper insights about your topic as you do more research, and you will find that your thesis statement has to be more complicated to match the evidence that you want to use.

You must be willing to reject or omit some evidence in order to keep your paper cohesive and your reader focused. Or you may have to revise your thesis to match the evidence and insights that you want to discuss. Read your draft carefully, noting the conclusions you have drawn and the major ideas which support or prove those conclusions. These will be the elements of your final thesis statement.

Sometimes you will not be able to identify these elements in your early drafts, but as you consider how your argument is developing and how your evidence supports your main idea, ask yourself, “ What is the main point that I want to prove/discuss? ” and “ How will I convince the reader that this is true? ” When you can answer these questions, then you can begin to refine the thesis statement.

Refine and polish the thesis statement

To get to your final thesis, you’ll need to refine your draft thesis so that it’s specific and arguable.

  • Ask if your draft thesis addresses the assignment
  • Question each part of your draft thesis
  • Clarify vague phrases and assertions
  • Investigate alternatives to your draft thesis

Consult the example below for suggestions on how to refine your draft thesis statement.

Sample Assignment

Choose an activity and define it as a symbol of American culture. Your essay should cause the reader to think critically about the society which produces and enjoys that activity.

  • Ask The phenomenon of drive-in facilities is an interesting symbol of american culture, and these facilities demonstrate significant characteristics of our society.This statement does not fulfill the assignment because it does not require the reader to think critically about society.
Drive-ins are an interesting symbol of American culture because they represent Americans’ significant creativity and business ingenuity.
Among the types of drive-in facilities familiar during the twentieth century, drive-in movie theaters best represent American creativity, not merely because they were the forerunner of later drive-ins and drive-throughs, but because of their impact on our culture: they changed our relationship to the automobile, changed the way people experienced movies, and changed movie-going into a family activity.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast-food establishments, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize America’s economic ingenuity, they also have affected our personal standards.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast- food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize (1) Americans’ business ingenuity, they also have contributed (2) to an increasing homogenization of our culture, (3) a willingness to depersonalize relationships with others, and (4) a tendency to sacrifice quality for convenience.

This statement is now specific and fulfills all parts of the assignment. This version, like any good thesis, is not self-evident; its points, 1-4, will have to be proven with evidence in the body of the paper. The numbers in this statement indicate the order in which the points will be presented. Depending on the length of the paper, there could be one paragraph for each numbered item or there could be blocks of paragraph for even pages for each one.

Complete the final thesis statement

The bottom line.

As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:

  • Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
  • As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind . You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
  • Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable ; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
  • Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.

In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper’s purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track–well able to understand and appreciate your argument.

when do you have to write a thesis in college

Writing Process and Structure

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

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  • Senior Thesis Writing Guides

The senior thesis is typically the most challenging writing project undertaken by undergraduate students. The writing guides below aim to introduce students both to the specific methods and conventions of writing original research in their area of concentration and to effective writing process.

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Thesis FAQs

Thesis writing faqs, q: is writing a thesis the only way to get involved in research.

A. No. Each semester (including summer), you can apply to do any of the following: 1) volunteer in a lab, 2) receive funding to work in a lab, or 3) receive course credit for working in a lab (through Neurobiology 91; only possible after Junior Fall). All of these options are open to thesis writers and non-thesis writers.

**See the Neurobio Guides page for info on how to find a lab and find research funding.

Q: Do I need to take Neurobiology 91 and 99 to write a thesis?

A:  It depends on your track.

MBB Track : students are required to take one semester of both Neurobiology 91 and Neurobiology 99.

Neurobiology Track : Neurobiology 91 and 99 are optional; however, one semester of Neurobiology 91r is required to be eligible for Departmental Honors.

Q: Why should I write a senior thesis?

A: Writing a thesis allows you to complete a scientific study: conception, planning, research, troubleshooting, analysis, interpretation, and formal communication. Arguably, it is the best way to develop and deepen your understanding of science. First, through your research and the thesis writing process, you will become an expert in a small area of neurobiology. Second, through the difficulties of conducting, analyzing and interpreting your results, you will discover how knowledge is generated and critiqued. Third, through formally presenting your results, you will develop argumentative writing skills and experience how new information and ideas are first communicated.

Here at Harvard College you have truly an amazing range of world-class laboratories and research centers that provide some of the most stimulating intellectual opportunities on planet earth. Writing a thesis allows you to take full advantage of these resources, and participate in the mission of these groups.

For all these reasons, writing a thesis is also required for highest distinction in Departmental Honors (Highest Honors).

Q: When do I have to decide if I am going to write a thesis?

A: There is no deadline or “decision” that commits you to writing a thesis, as you can decide not to write a thesis at any point. However, to remain eligible to write a thesis you must complete all the thesis checkpoints, which start junior year spring semester

Q: How do I sign up to take a tutorial class?

A: This year we are using the online survey tool to make all tutorial assignments (see  Tutorials Sectioning page).  To be considered for a tutorial, you must enter your tutorial preferences by 11 PM the day before study card day. Popular tutorials will need to be lotteried so you should enter at least 3 choices.  Priority is given to Neurobiology concentrators.  If you have to miss tutorial during shopping period (not advisable), you should contact the instructor before study card day.

Since some of our tutorials do not meet until Wednesday evening (the day before study card day), we cannot determine final enrollment until late that night.  You will be emailed your assignment by 10 AM the next morning -- Study Card Day (Thursday).  You can then enroll in the course and the instructor will give you permission.

Q: Do I need to formally present or defend my thesis work?

A:  No, there is not an oral component to the thesis. However, we hold a prestigious (and fun!) event to celebrate our thesis writers in late April: The ‘Annual Thesis Awards in Neurobiology’. During this event thesis writers present their research findings in 60 seconds through any creative medium (song, skit, poem, presentation, interpretative dance, puppetry, etc). There is also an optional poster session to present your completed work in mid-April.

Q: What are the basic requirements for a thesis?

A:  The thesis is a 30-50 page (double spaced) document, which includes: acknowledgements, contributions, table of contents, abstract, introduction, methods, results, figures, discussion and references. Specific guidelines and examples of how to write each sections will be presented senior year to all potential thesis writers. Additionally, thesis writers will be invited to a series of writing workshops designed to help improve and guide their scientific writing during junior and senior year. If you wish to see examples of theses from previous years, they are available in the Neurobiology advising office (Biolabs 1082). Check out a list of titles and abstracts online :

Q: What labs can I work in? What projects can I work on?

A:  Neurobiology students may work in any of the many Harvard affiliated Institutions and Hospitals around Boston. This includes labs on the Harvard College campus, as well as those at Harvard Medical School, Children’s Hospital Boston, Mass General Hospital, Mclean Psychiatric Hospital and more.

As a Neurobiology student, your research must involve the study of neurons. For students interested in working in cognitive science, sleep, immunology, or psychology labs, your project must meet any one of the following criteria:

1. Involve brain imaging (fMRI, EEG, etc) to assess and correlate neuronal function in your study.

2. Involve a diseased group of patients so that you can link what is known in the literature about the neurobiology underlying the disorder to your study.

3. Involve work on an animal model, so that you can link what is known in the literature about the neurobiology of brain (organization, connectivity, activity patterns, structure, etc) to your study.

Q: How is the thesis evaluated? How will it affect my grades?

A: Your thesis will be evaluated by two anonymous Neurobiology faculty members who will comment specifically on 1) the depth of your background knowledge, 2) the clarity of your writing 3) the quality and rigor of your methods, 4) the presentation of your figures, 5) your understanding of how your results relate to the literature, 6) the logic and analysis of your conclusions, and 7) the accomplishments, weaknesses and difficulty of your work.   

As an undergraduate, you may need to stop doing experiments before you have a complete story because of looming thesis deadlines.  The completeness of the experiments is a major difference between the undergraduate thesis and a doctoral thesis.  It is understood that undergraduate theses often are not able to fully complete their intended story.  How well the thesis is written, presented, and analyzed is the major determinant of its grade.

Your thesis will receive a grade: no credit, commendable, cum, high cum, magna, high magna, or summa. This Latin grade affects your Departmental Honors determination only (English Honors); it is not recorded on your transcript. You will be notified of your grade (including the review comments) along with your Honors recommendation several weeks after you turn in your completed Thesis.

Additionally, if you are enrolled in Neurobiology 99, you will receive a course grade by your research lab director, similar to Neurobiology 91 (ie, based on your performance and diligence in the lab).

Q: How independent should my research be?

A: Independence varies greatly from lab to lab.   On one extreme some rare students are able to spend several years in a laboratory and have free reign to design and carry out experiments completely on their own.  More commonly though, students work fairly closely with a postdoc or graduate student in the lab.  It is perfectly acceptable for you to work closely with someone in the lab, but it is important that you take ownership of some aspect of the project, whether it is the day-to-day experiments, reading the literature and suggesting new models to incorporate, or independent statistical analyses.  This will likely also make the project more interesting to you.  The writing of the thesis should be done entirely on your own, with feedback and editing suggestions from your lab director or others.

Q: Whom can I talk to about my thesis?

A:  Your concentration advisers (Dr. Ryan Draft and Dr. Laura Magnotti) are always available to discuss any issues or questions you have about your thesis in general, and any issues related to formatting or deadlines.

You should also be in touch with your daily supervisor and your lab research director to discuss specific questions about your research results, ideas about your project, and get feedback on your writing.

For additional writing help, the Writing Center at Harvard has resources available for thesis writers (senior thesis writing tutors available by appointment through the Writing Center website).

Potential thesis writers will also be invited to workshops throughout junior and senior year that focus on writing the Junior Thesis Proposal, Introduction, and Figures.

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  • Do All College Students Write a Thesis?

Do All College Students Write a Thesis?

What is a College Thesis?

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College Thesis vs Field Experience

How to pick the right one, a few thesis paper topic ideas.

Before graduating from school, some students wonder if everyone must do a college thesis. You might hear various things, but the truth is a thesis is not always required from graduate students to complete their school programs. Of course, it depends on many things, including the type of study. Some schools offer two ways that include thesis writing  and a non-thesis variant where students have to take more classes without creating a thesis. In our short article, you can learn about some alternatives to a thesis. It will help you to decide which option to choose or if you should simply ask thesis writing service for help. We will provide you with full information about a college thesis and thesis writing services that can help avoid struggling with this paper. Of course, the final decision is yours! 

A college thesis is quite complex work students have to create within their last year before graduating a school. In general, students are required to select a topic they studied and make research around the chosen subject. The topic must be related to the students’ part experience. After selecting a subject, students have to submit it with an advisor. They can start their research and writing after the meeting with an advisor. Later, when their paper is completed, college professors read it and decide if the document meets all the needed requirements and instructions for graduating from school. 

Final Research or Capstone Project 

If you’ve heard that some graduate students are not required to create a thesis, you should know that in some schools, students have to finish a capstone project instead of a thesis. This is a kind of final research on the chosen topic. It’s a better choice for those students who don’t like to work in a classroom and prefer things connected to the experience. For example, a student who studies computer science can make new software or a new program for a computer instead of creating a huge work about innovations in computer science and technology.   

Some students in a school who have completed their field experience can not be required to create a school thesis. For some people, it may seem like a simpler variant. If you’re thinking about selecting this option, you have to know that your school may require completing around 300 or more hours of fieldwork under your supervisor’s control. Needless to say, this work should be done after finishing the studies. It means that it may take about 3 or more years to get your degree. If compared with students who choose thesis writing, they can get a degree within 2 years or even less. Are you one of them? Pay attention to all thesis parts and their detailed descriptions from the beginning. Of course, the choice is yours. Keep in mind that if you will choose fieldwork, you may be required to provide detailed logs of your work and show these logs to the department before you get a degree.  

Of course, you have to decide what variant is more acceptable for you. Some people don’t want to create a thesis because they don’t like long research. We believe you understand how long is a thesis and how much time you should spend with books in the library. In this case, a non-thesis variant is a good option. It’s suitable for those students who want to get more experience in the selected field and avoid a lot of paperwork. The option of writing a research project will fit those students who want to make a project without detailed research, and fieldwork will appeal to those people who agree to work extra time before graduating from a school.   

Some professors would want you to come up with thesis paper topics on your own, without giving you advice at all. Sure, it is quite a challenging task for the majority of students. Here we have compiled ideas for thesis  that we believe are worth consideration to expedite your creativity. Feel free to check this list to get a better understanding as to how good thesis topics should look like:

  • Promotion of violence in popular culture.
  • The culture of family development: the political aspect of the problem.
  • Why is skin on a face more sensitive to breakouts and touch than on any other part of the body?
  • The role of relatives in overcoming severe chronic health conditions.
  • Food insecurity in urban states: factors to bring the issue about and possible mechanisms of management.
  • What are some pros and cons related to plastic surgery?
  • The role of a father in the prevention of early childhood obesity.
  • The role of the school in the sexual education of children.
  • Forced child marriage as a factor influencing life quality.
  • Doctor-patient communication as a significant factor in preventing infectious diseases.
  • Language learning as a factor in preventing intellectual disorders of seniors.
  • Are there hobbies you can do in your own country but not when you travel abroad? Why?
  • What stereotypes are related to people from your country, and is there any truth to those?
  • Frequent change of place of residence as a factor preventing depressive states.
  • The role of stresses in the natural psychological development of individuals.
  • The role of age in the effectiveness of coping with alcohol abuse diseases.
  • The influence of intensity of medical care upon the development of cancer-related depressive states.
  • Does beauty, in general, determine how much a person will be successful in life?
  • How to be better at communicating with friends, family, work colleagues, and strangers?
  • The correlation between suicidal attempts and video games abuse in adolescents.
  • Gender differences in the effectiveness of language learning: myth or reality.
  • Employment as a factor to overcome PTSD in military veterans.
  • Marital satisfaction and job satisfaction: does an interconnection exist?
  • The relation between formula feeding and obesity in infants.
  • Can amusement parks have an educational purpose apart from an entertaining one?
  • What other common sayings such as “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” exist in your language?
  • Domestic violence as a factor of destruction for the reproductive health of women in developing countries.
  • Are the virtual world and video games, causing more violence or more antisocial people?
  • Why should more expensive sports like rowing and tennis be more accessible to social and ethnic minorities?
  • Domestic violence and the quality of breastfeeding. Detecting the triggers and foreseeing the results to avoid.

If you have decided to write a thesis, but feel like it’s too difficult for you to complete this task, don’t be upset! You still have a chance to make a proper document and get a degree without problems. Just ask our professional team to assist in making your thesis, and we will finish this paper on time. Our talented specialists are here to work on your college thesis!

If you want to deliver a senior thesis and start a professional career quickly, then you need not only to research a topic well but also to find all the necessary information for the final work and know how to properly format and structure a thesis. Thus, having a clear plan and understanding what s...

Are you about to write a bachelor thesis? Congratulations - you are on the home straight and need to take the very last but important step to earn a bachelor’s degree. You have successfully handled all academic assignments; however, it doesn’t make bachelor thesis writing any easier. Writing a thesi...

Writing a master’s thesis requires a lot of patience. It's not something you can create in a few days. It’s a large scale project, so you’ll have to make a strict schedule and write a little piece every day. Do you feel it's a difficult job for you and you need thesis help? Instead of devoting your ...

Brooklyn College

Guide for Writing a Thesis

Begin to plan your thesis project early in your graduate career. You must make several important decisions that require careful thought before you can successfully write a thesis, such as identifying faculty members who would be appropriate advisers for prospective thesis topics. In language and literature, a thesis topic may be developed as a result of your interest in specific courses you have taken; you might begin by talking about your ideas for a topic with your professors.

Consult the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures webpages each semester for information on comprehensive exams, and thesis and graduation deadlines. Remember, if all course work has been completed, students can register for FREN 790X or SPAN 799G, a one-credit thesis research course, in order to maintain active student status.

Application forms may be obtained via the  BC WebCentral Portal . Click on “E-services” and then on “Forms.” Paper forms may be obtained in 3238 Boylan Hall or the Enrollment Services Center.

A proposal is a description of a plan for your thesis. Writing the proposal requires some preliminary research. Your adviser may help you write a good proposal, but before you approach an adviser for help, investigate your prospective topic and sketch a draft proposal. Begin by searching for literature on the subject using standard bibliographies in your field and reading one or two key books or articles.

Consider your resources and time constraints in developing the proposal. The topic you choose depends on your interests; whether your adviser will be on campus while you are working on the project; your adviser’s expertise in your area of study; and the time you have available to complete the research and writing. You may need to focus on a more narrow aspect of your topic.

Some titles of modern languages and literature theses from prior years include:

  • Patrice Dorcely, “Fonds-Rouge: Une Representation Caracteristique du Modéle des Campagnes Haitiennes”
  • Joseph Dumena, “Jean-Paul Sartre: Un Existentialiste Humaniste”
  • Frandre Manelas, “L’Education dans La Rue Case Negres”
  • Carmen Rodríguez, “Nuyorican Spanglish”
  • Lucy Santana, “Horacio Quiroga: Sus cuentos, una extension de su vida”
  • Manny Simon, “La imagen de la mujer en la poesía de Rubén Darío”

The proposal that you write before you meet with your adviser should explain:

  • The topic you expect to investigate and why it is important
  • The general line of inquiry you plan to pursue or the tentative argument you intend to pose
  • Your research plan
  • Your bibliography

A proposal is a starting point, not the finished thesis, so do not worry if it seems vague or incomplete. Include ideas that you feel sure you would like to investigate as well as related ideas that you think might be worth exploring. Make sure that your ideas are clear and that your proposal is typed neatly before you approach your adviser. This will give your adviser a sense of your commitment to the project and provide a starting point for discussion.

Work with your adviser to revise your proposal in specific ways. Consider the following questions:

  • How is the project related to what I have learned in previous courses and from my personal reading and research?
  • What question am I trying to answer; what problem am I trying to solve?
  • Is the question answerable or the problem solvable? Can it be answered or solved in the time I have to work on it?
  • Is there a part of the question or the problem that I could work on that would let me go into greater depth than if I tried to take on the whole thing?
  • What should the final project look like (length, format, bibliography)?

Keep in mind that at this stage nothing is set in stone. You are not committing yourself unalterably. You cannot possibly know in advance all aspects of how the project will evolve. In fact, the unexpected things are part of what makes writing a thesis exciting and rewarding.

The completed final draft of your proposal should include the following:

  • A succinct, tentative title. The working title summarizes what you think the project is about as you begin it. Your title may change as your work progresses and you develop new insights on your subject.
  • A statement of the project’s central issue stated either as a noun phrase (e.g., “Women in Selected Cortázar Stories”) or as a question (e.g., “What Does Cortázar Think of Women?”).
  • A list of research questions. What information do you need to gather to solve the problem?
  • Your hypothesis. What do you speculate the answer or solution will be?
  • The tasks you plan to execute in order to complete the project.
  • A description of the resources on which you plan to draw. Explain which of these you will bring to the project yourself (what do you already know that will help?), which resources you will depend on your adviser to contribute, and which resources you will have to go out and find.
  • A calendar. Set a tentative due date for each stage of the research project. Decide with your adviser on the due date for the completion of the project. Set realistic goals.Your project should be one of your highest priorities, but do not over-commit yourself. Design your schedule so that you can successfully complete each stage on time without neglecting other important parts of your life, such as work and family. Research requires commitment, discipline, and organization—so plan wisely.

After you have made final revisions to your proposal and your adviser has approved it, begin work on the project. Or, more precisely, continue to work on it—writing the proposal has given you a good start.

Be sure to file the “Application for Filing Thesis Title” form with the graduate deputy. The thesis title is due at the end of the first month of each semester. The actual date is published on the Schedule of Classes. You must include the working title of your thesis on the form and have your adviser sign it.

Sample Proposal

Writer: Jane White

Working title: “Casualties of Civilization: Repression and Progress in the Works of Stephen Crane” My thesis will examine the social and economic forces of Crane’s time and how Crane’s prose embodies the harmful consequences of these forces in such characters as Maggie, Henry Fleming, Trescott, George Kelsey, and the Swede (“The Blue Hotel”).

Crane lived in a time of enormous social and economic change. He wrote a great deal about the people trampled under America’s feet and tossed to the side as the country marched on toward the 20th century.

I will apply psychoanalytical concepts to the understanding of Crane’s work and times. From research I have already done, I think there is substantial material available to demonstrate that Freud’s ideas of the subconscious and of civilization’s effect on the individual psyche are exhibited in Crane’s texts. I want to look at the impact that society has on individual characters from Crane’s oeuvre: for example, Maggie’s suppression of desire, the Swede’s death wish and George Kelsey’s Oedipal guilt. I have begun to compile my working bibliography. In addition to the Library of America’s edition of Stephen Crane’s works, I am reading Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents and a work about Freud and his ideas in relation to progress, Norman O. Brown’s Life and Death . I have also researched some general works dealing with the theory of progress: Lewis’s The American Adam , Smith’s Virgin Land , and Bury’s The Idea of Progress . I will also use the select bibliography of works about Stephen Crane provided to me in American Literature of the Nineteenth Century II .

I will spend the semester break (January) researching and reading materials. In February and March, I will write a rough draft, turning in one chapter to my adviser every two weeks for comments. In April, I will revise the draft and present the final version to my adviser by May 1. If no further revisions are necessary, I will spend the second week of May preparing the final copy so as to be able to turn it in on May 13.

Research projects differ in many ways, but they usually have at least two important things in common: the pressure of time and the tendency to forget, in your natural concern to produce a final product, what you have done day-to-day on the project.

Calendar: Keeping Track of Your Time

The schedule you drafted in your proposal was only an estimate of how long your research would take. As you begin your project, set up tentative intermediate deadlines that will remind you daily and weekly how much work you have left. You will probably have to adjust these deadlines as you go along, but even the process of adjusting them will help you know how far you have to go. One way to keep track of time is to use a monthly box-calendar that includes major research work points during the term, deadlines in your other courses, and important events in your personal, family, and work life.

Stay on schedule by checking your calendar regularly. If you see that the project is getting too large or too complex for the time you have left, ask your adviser to help you subdivide it and subordinate pieces that you will not be able to treat in depth.

Research Log: Keeping Track of Your Work

Although the pressure of time may force you to meet your deadlines, it may also cause you to forget what you did, how you did it, and what you thought and felt about it. For this reason, many researchers and scholars keep a research log—a long-term memory bank and creativity tool. With a complete record of what you did and thought, you may review your work periodically to see how your ideas have developed and discover new ideas or new directions for research. You may want to use a double-entry process log: Use left-hand pages for work notes, right-hand pages for personal responses to your work.

On left-hand pages you might describe what you did, when and where you did it, and why. You may quote passages from your reading that seem interesting, useful or suggestive; draft sentences or paragraphs that may find a place in your proposal or final thesis; and list books and articles you have consulted or plan to consult.

Right-hand pages contain an informal record of your personal experience while working on your project. This is the place to carry on a running conversation with yourself about what you are doing: your hunches and guesses; your off-the-wall ideas; any questions that arise in your mind; your plans, doubts, and hopes; and your reflections on passages you have read or on those you have quoted on the left-hand page.

Maintaining a double-entry log of this sort takes only a few minutes a day. But its value, as the material accumulates, extends far beyond that small investment of time.

You should write about the project as you go along, restating your position as your understanding changes. Even a paragraph or a page once a week in your research log will help.

Plan to write your first draft early enough to submit it, chapter by chapter, to your adviser and to revise it on the basis of his or her comments. Set a deadline to complete a second draft well before the final due date so that your adviser has time to read it and you have time to make necessary further revisions.

Talking with your adviser after you complete each chapter may help decide what you need to do in order to complete the project. You may choose to continue investigating the sources outlined in your initial plan or to read something else instead. You may decide that you have read enough and should now revise your paper to more clearly expand your ideas.

Keep in mind that revising the final product of a research project will probably involve more than merely refining stylistic elements. You may have to do more research, write new sections, or even rethink the whole thing. In the end, the quality of your essay may depend on how much time you have set aside to rework your thoughts for the final draft.

Every research project is unique, but all successful projects have one thing in common: polish. Polish means that every sentence is succinct and is written in Standard English and that every paragraph is unified and clearly relates to its immediate context and to the main point of the essay. Edit your final essay until it looks and reads like a publishable article. It should represent you at your very best. Adhere to the guidelines in the style manual used in the field of literature, the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers . (You may wish to consult the Brooklyn College Library for excellent research resources on this topic and others.) In addition, follow the “Instructions for Preparing and Filing the Master’s Thesis” (available from your graduate deputy or the Office of Graduate Studies and Research) for specifics about margins, binders, labels, etc. Print your thesis on a high-quality printer. Use your computer’s spell check and then proofread carefully yourself. Ask someone else to proofread your thesis as well.

When you are finished, place two copies in a large envelope or something similar, label them, and take them to your adviser. Your adviser should then complete and sign the “Approval of Thesis/Master’s Recital/M.F.A. Project” form. Bring the two copies and the approval form to your graduate deputy by the final due date for the semester in which you are planning to graduate. If everything is in order the graduate deputy will sign the form. Take the form and one copy of the thesis to the Office of Graduate Studies and Research. After approval, that copy will be placed in the Brooklyn College Library; the second copy will remain in your department.

How do I find a thesis topic?

A thesis topic may be:

  • an idea that you have long wanted to work on;
  • a subject raised in a course or by a teacher that you would like to know more about;
  • a topic arrived at in discussion with the graduate deputy or prospective thesis adviser; or
  • a subject that arises from conversations with fellow students.

When do I write the thesis?

Most of the work is usually done after completing course work. You may begin any time, but the effort will be limited during your course work. You may be able to use an essay written for a course as a starting point.

What are the first steps to take?

  • Find an adviser—a teacher of a course you have taken or someone recommended by your graduate deputy.
  • Consult with your adviser to shape the topic to a manageable size and to establish a timetable for completion.
  • File an “Application for Filing Thesis Title” form with your graduate deputy.

What are the major steps in researching and writing the thesis?

  • Read and take notes on written sources related to your topic.
  • Carry out the major research steps promised in the proposal.
  • Create a rough outline—a statement of your main thesis and a sequence of chapters or materials in support of it.
  • Ask for help from the Learning Center if necessary.
  • Submit individual chapters to your adviser and revise them on the basis of his or her comments.
  • Refine the rough outline as chapters develop.
  • Keep your focus on the main thesis and on material needed to support it. Eliminate extraneous material (you can always hold it for another project).
  • Maintain a bibliography or record of works cited.

What are the final steps in completing the thesis?

  • Obtain a copy of “Instructions for Preparing and Filing the Master’s Thesis” from your department or the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research.
  • Refine the outline and check carefully that each chapter is focused.
  • Write an introduction—a statement of your main thesis and a plan of what will follow. In other words, write a guide for the reader.
  • Write a conclusion—the logical outcome of evidence or a summary.
  • Check that all sources are cited properly according to the style manual used by your department.
  • Prepare a title/cover page following the model below.
  • Write a brief (200-word) abstract in English of the thesis for the Graduate Division and include it on the page following the title page.
  • Prepare two copies of the thesis for submission.
  • Ask your adviser to sign the “Approval of Thesis/Master’s Recital/M.F.A. Project” form (see above).

The cover page of your thesis should follow this style (pdf) .

Brooklyn. All in.

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Developing a Thesis

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This handout covers major topics relating to writing about fiction. This covers prewriting, close reading, thesis development, drafting, and common pitfalls to avoid.

Once you've read the story or novel closely, look back over your notes for patterns of questions or ideas that interest you. Have most of your questions been about the characters, how they develop or change?

For example: If you are reading Conrad's The Secret Agent , do you seem to be most interested in what the author has to say about society? Choose a pattern of ideas and express it in the form of a question and an answer such as the following: Question: What does Conrad seem to be suggesting about early twentieth-century London society in his novel The Secret Agent ? Answer: Conrad suggests that all classes of society are corrupt. Pitfalls: Choosing too many ideas. Choosing an idea without any support.

Once you have some general points to focus on, write your possible ideas and answer the questions that they suggest.

For example: Question: How does Conrad develop the idea that all classes of society are corrupt? Answer: He uses images of beasts and cannibalism whether he's describing socialites, policemen or secret agents.

To write your thesis statement, all you have to do is turn the question and answer around. You've already given the answer, now just put it in a sentence (or a couple of sentences) so that the thesis of your paper is clear.

For example: In his novel, The Secret Agent , Conrad uses beast and cannibal imagery to describe the characters and their relationships to each other. This pattern of images suggests that Conrad saw corruption in every level of early twentieth-century London society.

Now that you're familiar with the story or novel and have developed a thesis statement, you're ready to choose the evidence you'll use to support your thesis. There are a lot of good ways to do this, but all of them depend on a strong thesis for their direction.

For example: Here's a student's thesis about Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent . In his novel, The Secret Agent , Conrad uses beast and cannibal imagery to describe the characters and their relationships to each other. This pattern of images suggests that Conrad saw corruption in every level of early twentieth-century London society. This thesis focuses on the idea of social corruption and the device of imagery. To support this thesis, you would need to find images of beasts and cannibalism within the text.
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Do you have to Write a Thesis for Undergrad or Bachelor’s

Thesis for undergraduates

Thesis for undergraduates

An undergraduate thesis is a dissertation written by a candidate for an academic degree that embodies the results of original research and a specific view being substantiated.

It is usually between forty to sixty pages and allows the undergraduate to explore their topic of study in-depth.

The thesis allows students to test their ability to conduct research, own research skills, and get used to working mostly done in graduate schools if they decide to advance their learning.

when do you have to write a thesis in college

Since a thesis is required to complete a degree program, it takes a long time for research that institutions allow. Once the students are through, they must defend the thesis before a university committee.

It is a significant assignment that most students may find tough. Luckily, there is online homework help for students who need to complete such hard tasks.

Need Help with your Thesis or Essays?

Do you have to write a thesis for undergraduate.

Some undergraduate degrees do not require students to write a thesis before completing their degrees. However, most students are required to write a thesis for the fulfillment of their bachelor’s degree.

You do not have to write a thesis for your undergraduate or bachelor’s degree if it is not a requirement in your course. However, some universities or courses demand a thesis project. Others have the option to complete a thesis or any other course project.

While not all undergraduate or bachelor’s degree programs require you to write a thesis, some will have it mandatory.

The requirement to write an essay depends on the type of major. In schools that do not require students to write a thesis as a requirement before they complete their degree, students are required to write a non-thesis variant.

writing an undergraduate thesis

This requires students to take more classes without creating a thesis.

Field experience can serve as a substitute for a thesis. Most schools require students to complete over three hundred hours of fieldwork as a substitute for a thesis.

It is done after finishing your study with control from supervisors.

Detailed work logs should be submitted to the school department before you get your degree.

The student’s choice is to choose the best option that the college or university provides. The thesis will take you less time to complete compared to the field experience. In some institutions, both are compulsory.

Why do Students Write a Thesis in Undergraduate?

Other than the apparent reason that it is a requirement for the completion of a bachelor’s degree, there are several other reasons why students write theses as undergraduates:

  • Writing a thesis helps students engage in in-depth research that greatly helps them learn more about their career area. The student can teach themselves after gaining all the skills and knowledge in a course.
  • Students must read extensively to establish whether something needs to be written about. The right points have to be hit when exploring the subject.
  • A thesis lays the foundation of higher learning for undergraduate students. Those who continue to master’s are likely to major in their areas of strength, mostly those covered in the thesis.
  • Most employers in today’s market prefer students with a thesis in their portfolio because it shows that the students have the ambition to learn and gain authoritative skills and writing skills in school. 
  • Several skills, such as critical communication and public speaking, are gained and perfected when defending your thesis in front of an experienced panel of experts. 
  • A thesis helps increase the level of credit or leadership among students. 

How to Write a Thesis for an Undergraduate?

The following are the steps to follow when writing a thesis for an undergraduate program:

Identify a Topic

undergraduate thesis methodology

Narrow down your focus to a specific topic from the many major ones.

Choose a topic of interest that you are willing to take a lot of time researching. Seek help from the professor if you get stuck.

Background Research

This is where you develop your background knowledge.

Know the key big names and thinkers in that area and understand the major theories and arguments on the topic of study. Build a bibliography.

Approach Advisers

These are people who can help you with your topic. They include people with expertise that are willing to work with you and with experience in dealing with undergraduates in their thesis process.

They must be able to help you identify the various stages of research, drafting, editing, outlining, undertaking oral defense, and presenting your thesis. 

Develop your Topic of Research

Continue researching the topic’s background and read all the research related to your area o study. Meet with your adviser and discuss the way forward and make arrangements on when to conduct the necessary research.

Do extensive research. Make it thorough and take notes. Ask for help when you need it to ensure you get it done. Organize yourself during the research and prepare for unexpected results. 

Here you should be able to identify both your arguments and key points of the key chapters that you will write about. Know the surrounding literature on the topic and where every information available specifically fits in your thesis. 

writing a draft

This is where you should start figuring out the final shape of your thesis.

If there are areas short of research, they should be identified and secondary research conducted on them. Check the sections off your timeline and write until it is done.  

Here you edit your first draft and send sections of the work to your advisor.

Incorporate the advice given in the essay and fix the holes in your argument. Keep a focus on the details and write the final draft.

Finalize and Finish

Read your final draft and remove all the mistakes that may be present to make it perfect. Then, present your thesis. This is done during a thesis defense presentation session , which is done after writing.

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Parts of Thesis

A thesis can be long or short, depending on the part to be included and the length of each part. This determines the time taken to write a thesis or a dissertation and complete it.

However, the general format of a thesis remains the same. The following are the main components of a thesis:

Introduction

This is where your thesis’s central argument and topic are explained. The introduction should include why you choose the topic and everything that will be covered in your essay.

Literature Review

Includes all studies related to your work and gaps identified in your research that help you develop a strong claim and build counterarguments.

Methodology

Data and all methods used to conduct the research are explained here.

All the findings of your study are included here.

the conclusion

Conclusions

Includes how and why you conducted your research. A summary and conclusion based on the results are also included.

List of Majors that Require a Thesis

A lot of majors require students to write a thesis. Some of these majors include

  • Political Science
  • Criminal justice.

However, majors that deal with applications, such as nursing, business, and education, do not need a thesis.

Why do Students Hire People to Write their College Thesis

Saving time.

All students know that writing a thesis will take a long time. It requires attention and extensive research that consumes a lot of time. Students, therefore, hire professionals to write their thesis to save time. 

Tight Schedule

preparing study schedule

Most students are involved in businesses. They mostly find it hard to manage time between writing the thesis and doing business, which is the only source of income.

Beating the deadline becomes hard, and hiring a writer to do the thesis is the best option available. 

Dealing with Anxiety and Stress

Most undergraduates experience anxieties and stress when it comes to ensuring that they hand in quality work essential to obtaining their degrees.

This added to stress from family issues, relationships, and social issues, can hinder students from concentrating on their work. This leads them to find solutions for completing their thesis, which involves hiring people to do them. 

Getting Better Grades

Every student these days is obsessed with getting better grades. Some students fear they cannot achieve this by themselves and hire professional writers who guarantee them the quality work needed.

The credibility of hired writers lies in their work quality, making them produce high-quality work to compete among the best. 

Josh Jasen working

Josh Jasen or JJ as we fondly call him, is a senior academic editor at Grade Bees in charge of the writing department. When not managing complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In his spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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Frequently asked questions

Why do i need a thesis statement.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Frequently asked questions: Writing an essay

For a stronger conclusion paragraph, avoid including:

  • Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the main body
  • Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
  • Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.

Your essay’s conclusion should contain:

  • A rephrased version of your overall thesis
  • A brief review of the key points you made in the main body
  • An indication of why your argument matters

The conclusion may also reflect on the broader implications of your argument, showing how your ideas could applied to other contexts or debates.

The conclusion paragraph of an essay is usually shorter than the introduction . As a rule, it shouldn’t take up more than 10–15% of the text.

An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.

To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

Let’s say you’re writing a five-paragraph  essay about the environmental impacts of dietary choices. Here are three examples of topic sentences you could use for each of the three body paragraphs :

  • Research has shown that the meat industry has severe environmental impacts.
  • However, many plant-based foods are also produced in environmentally damaging ways.
  • It’s important to consider not only what type of diet we eat, but where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Each of these sentences expresses one main idea – by listing them in order, we can see the overall structure of the essay at a glance. Each paragraph will expand on the topic sentence with relevant detail, evidence, and arguments.

The topic sentence usually comes at the very start of the paragraph .

However, sometimes you might start with a transition sentence to summarize what was discussed in previous paragraphs, followed by the topic sentence that expresses the focus of the current paragraph.

Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.

In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

The vast majority of essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Almost all academic writing involves building up an argument, though other types of essay might be assigned in composition classes.

Essays can present arguments about all kinds of different topics. For example:

  • In a literary analysis essay, you might make an argument for a specific interpretation of a text
  • In a history essay, you might present an argument for the importance of a particular event
  • In a politics essay, you might argue for the validity of a certain political theory

At high school and in composition classes at university, you’ll often be told to write a specific type of essay , but you might also just be given prompts.

Look for keywords in these prompts that suggest a certain approach: The word “explain” suggests you should write an expository essay , while the word “describe” implies a descriptive essay . An argumentative essay might be prompted with the word “assess” or “argue.”

In rhetorical analysis , a claim is something the author wants the audience to believe. A support is the evidence or appeal they use to convince the reader to believe the claim. A warrant is the (often implicit) assumption that links the support with the claim.

Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, building up logical arguments . Ethos appeals to the speaker’s status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.

Collectively, these three appeals are sometimes called the rhetorical triangle . They are central to rhetorical analysis , though a piece of rhetoric might not necessarily use all of them.

The term “text” in a rhetorical analysis essay refers to whatever object you’re analyzing. It’s frequently a piece of writing or a speech, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could also treat an advertisement or political cartoon as a text.

The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain the effect a piece of writing or oratory has on its audience, how successful it is, and the devices and appeals it uses to achieve its goals.

Unlike a standard argumentative essay , it’s less about taking a position on the arguments presented, and more about exploring how they are constructed.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

If you have to hand in your essay outline , you may be given specific guidelines stating whether you have to use full sentences. If you’re not sure, ask your supervisor.

When writing an essay outline for yourself, the choice is yours. Some students find it helpful to write out their ideas in full sentences, while others prefer to summarize them in short phrases.

You will sometimes be asked to hand in an essay outline before you start writing your essay . Your supervisor wants to see that you have a clear idea of your structure so that writing will go smoothly.

Even when you do not have to hand it in, writing an essay outline is an important part of the writing process . It’s a good idea to write one (as informally as you like) to clarify your structure for yourself whenever you are working on an essay.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

Your subjects might be very different or quite similar, but it’s important that there be meaningful grounds for comparison . You can probably describe many differences between a cat and a bicycle, but there isn’t really any connection between them to justify the comparison.

You’ll have to write a thesis statement explaining the central point you want to make in your essay , so be sure to know in advance what connects your subjects and makes them worth comparing.

Some essay prompts include the keywords “compare” and/or “contrast.” In these cases, an essay structured around comparing and contrasting is the appropriate response.

Comparing and contrasting is also a useful approach in all kinds of academic writing : You might compare different studies in a literature review , weigh up different arguments in an argumentative essay , or consider different theoretical approaches in a theoretical framework .

The key difference is that a narrative essay is designed to tell a complete story, while a descriptive essay is meant to convey an intense description of a particular place, object, or concept.

Narrative and descriptive essays both allow you to write more personally and creatively than other kinds of essays , and similar writing skills can apply to both.

If you’re not given a specific prompt for your descriptive essay , think about places and objects you know well, that you can think of interesting ways to describe, or that have strong personal significance for you.

The best kind of object for a descriptive essay is one specific enough that you can describe its particular features in detail—don’t choose something too vague or general.

If you’re not given much guidance on what your narrative essay should be about, consider the context and scope of the assignment. What kind of story is relevant, interesting, and possible to tell within the word count?

The best kind of story for a narrative essay is one you can use to reflect on a particular theme or lesson, or that takes a surprising turn somewhere along the way.

Don’t worry too much if your topic seems unoriginal. The point of a narrative essay is how you tell the story and the point you make with it, not the subject of the story itself.

Narrative essays are usually assigned as writing exercises at high school or in university composition classes. They may also form part of a university application.

When you are prompted to tell a story about your own life or experiences, a narrative essay is usually the right response.

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

An expository essay is a common assignment in high-school and university composition classes. It might be assigned as coursework, in class, or as part of an exam.

Sometimes you might not be told explicitly to write an expository essay. Look out for prompts containing keywords like “explain” and “define.” An expository essay is usually the right response to these prompts.

An expository essay is a broad form that varies in length according to the scope of the assignment.

Expository essays are often assigned as a writing exercise or as part of an exam, in which case a five-paragraph essay of around 800 words may be appropriate.

You’ll usually be given guidelines regarding length; if you’re not sure, ask.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Honors Theses

What this handout is about.

Writing a senior honors thesis, or any major research essay, can seem daunting at first. A thesis requires a reflective, multi-stage writing process. This handout will walk you through those stages. It is targeted at students in the humanities and social sciences, since their theses tend to involve more writing than projects in the hard sciences. Yet all thesis writers may find the organizational strategies helpful.

Introduction

What is an honors thesis.

That depends quite a bit on your field of study. However, all honors theses have at least two things in common:

  • They are based on students’ original research.
  • They take the form of a written manuscript, which presents the findings of that research. In the humanities, theses average 50-75 pages in length and consist of two or more chapters. In the social sciences, the manuscript may be shorter, depending on whether the project involves more quantitative than qualitative research. In the hard sciences, the manuscript may be shorter still, often taking the form of a sophisticated laboratory report.

Who can write an honors thesis?

In general, students who are at the end of their junior year, have an overall 3.2 GPA, and meet their departmental requirements can write a senior thesis. For information about your eligibility, contact:

  • UNC Honors Program
  • Your departmental administrators of undergraduate studies/honors

Why write an honors thesis?

Satisfy your intellectual curiosity This is the most compelling reason to write a thesis. Whether it’s the short stories of Flannery O’Connor or the challenges of urban poverty, you’ve studied topics in college that really piqued your interest. Now’s your chance to follow your passions, explore further, and contribute some original ideas and research in your field.

Develop transferable skills Whether you choose to stay in your field of study or not, the process of developing and crafting a feasible research project will hone skills that will serve you well in almost any future job. After all, most jobs require some form of problem solving and oral and written communication. Writing an honors thesis requires that you:

  • ask smart questions
  • acquire the investigative instincts needed to find answers
  • navigate libraries, laboratories, archives, databases, and other research venues
  • develop the flexibility to redirect your research if your initial plan flops
  • master the art of time management
  • hone your argumentation skills
  • organize a lengthy piece of writing
  • polish your oral communication skills by presenting and defending your project to faculty and peers

Work closely with faculty mentors At large research universities like Carolina, you’ve likely taken classes where you barely got to know your instructor. Writing a thesis offers the opportunity to work one-on-one with a with faculty adviser. Such mentors can enrich your intellectual development and later serve as invaluable references for graduate school and employment.

Open windows into future professions An honors thesis will give you a taste of what it’s like to do research in your field. Even if you’re a sociology major, you may not really know what it’s like to be a sociologist. Writing a sociology thesis would open a window into that world. It also might help you decide whether to pursue that field in graduate school or in your future career.

How do you write an honors thesis?

Get an idea of what’s expected.

It’s a good idea to review some of the honors theses other students have submitted to get a sense of what an honors thesis might look like and what kinds of things might be appropriate topics. Look for examples from the previous year in the Carolina Digital Repository. You may also be able to find past theses collected in your major department or at the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library. Pay special attention to theses written by students who share your major.

Choose a topic

Ideally, you should start thinking about topics early in your junior year, so you can begin your research and writing quickly during your senior year. (Many departments require that you submit a proposal for an honors thesis project during the spring of your junior year.)

How should you choose a topic?

  • Read widely in the fields that interest you. Make a habit of browsing professional journals to survey the “hot” areas of research and to familiarize yourself with your field’s stylistic conventions. (You’ll find the most recent issues of the major professional journals in the periodicals reading room on the first floor of Davis Library).
  • Set up appointments to talk with faculty in your field. This is a good idea, since you’ll eventually need to select an advisor and a second reader. Faculty also can help you start narrowing down potential topics.
  • Look at honors theses from the past. The North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library holds UNC honors theses. To get a sense of the typical scope of a thesis, take a look at a sampling from your field.

What makes a good topic?

  • It’s fascinating. Above all, choose something that grips your imagination. If you don’t, the chances are good that you’ll struggle to finish.
  • It’s doable. Even if a topic interests you, it won’t work out unless you have access to the materials you need to research it. Also be sure that your topic is narrow enough. Let’s take an example: Say you’re interested in the efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and early 1980s. That’s a big topic that probably can’t be adequately covered in a single thesis. You need to find a case study within that larger topic. For example, maybe you’re particularly interested in the states that did not ratify the ERA. Of those states, perhaps you’ll select North Carolina, since you’ll have ready access to local research materials. And maybe you want to focus primarily on the ERA’s opponents. Beyond that, maybe you’re particularly interested in female opponents of the ERA. Now you’ve got a much more manageable topic: Women in North Carolina Who Opposed the ERA in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • It contains a question. There’s a big difference between having a topic and having a guiding research question. Taking the above topic, perhaps your main question is: Why did some women in North Carolina oppose the ERA? You will, of course, generate other questions: Who were the most outspoken opponents? White women? Middle-class women? How did they oppose the ERA? Public protests? Legislative petitions? etc. etc. Yet it’s good to start with a guiding question that will focus your research.

Goal-setting and time management

The senior year is an exceptionally busy time for college students. In addition to the usual load of courses and jobs, seniors have the daunting task of applying for jobs and/or graduate school. These demands are angst producing and time consuming If that scenario sounds familiar, don’t panic! Do start strategizing about how to make a time for your thesis. You may need to take a lighter course load or eliminate extracurricular activities. Even if the thesis is the only thing on your plate, you still need to make a systematic schedule for yourself. Most departments require that you take a class that guides you through the honors project, so deadlines likely will be set for you. Still, you should set your own goals for meeting those deadlines. Here are a few suggestions for goal setting and time management:

Start early. Keep in mind that many departments will require that you turn in your thesis sometime in early April, so don’t count on having the entire spring semester to finish your work. Ideally, you’ll start the research process the semester or summer before your senior year so that the writing process can begin early in the fall. Some goal-setting will be done for you if you are taking a required class that guides you through the honors project. But any substantive research project requires a clear timetable.

Set clear goals in making a timetable. Find out the final deadline for turning in your project to your department. Working backwards from that deadline, figure out how much time you can allow for the various stages of production.

Here is a sample timetable. Use it, however, with two caveats in mind:

  • The timetable for your thesis might look very different depending on your departmental requirements.
  • You may not wish to proceed through these stages in a linear fashion. You may want to revise chapter one before you write chapter two. Or you might want to write your introduction last, not first. This sample is designed simply to help you start thinking about how to customize your own schedule.

Sample timetable

Avoid falling into the trap of procrastination. Once you’ve set goals for yourself, stick to them! For some tips on how to do this, see our handout on procrastination .

Consistent production

It’s a good idea to try to squeeze in a bit of thesis work every day—even if it’s just fifteen minutes of journaling or brainstorming about your topic. Or maybe you’ll spend that fifteen minutes taking notes on a book. The important thing is to accomplish a bit of active production (i.e., putting words on paper) for your thesis every day. That way, you develop good writing habits that will help you keep your project moving forward.

Make yourself accountable to someone other than yourself

Since most of you will be taking a required thesis seminar, you will have deadlines. Yet you might want to form a writing group or enlist a peer reader, some person or people who can help you stick to your goals. Moreover, if your advisor encourages you to work mostly independently, don’t be afraid to ask them to set up periodic meetings at which you’ll turn in installments of your project.

Brainstorming and freewriting

One of the biggest challenges of a lengthy writing project is keeping the creative juices flowing. Here’s where freewriting can help. Try keeping a small notebook handy where you jot down stray ideas that pop into your head. Or schedule time to freewrite. You may find that such exercises “free” you up to articulate your argument and generate new ideas. Here are some questions to stimulate freewriting.

Questions for basic brainstorming at the beginning of your project:

  • What do I already know about this topic?
  • Why do I care about this topic?
  • Why is this topic important to people other than myself
  • What more do I want to learn about this topic?
  • What is the main question that I am trying to answer?
  • Where can I look for additional information?
  • Who is my audience and how can I reach them?
  • How will my work inform my larger field of study?
  • What’s the main goal of my research project?

Questions for reflection throughout your project:

  • What’s my main argument? How has it changed since I began the project?
  • What’s the most important evidence that I have in support of my “big point”?
  • What questions do my sources not answer?
  • How does my case study inform or challenge my field writ large?
  • Does my project reinforce or contradict noted scholars in my field? How?
  • What is the most surprising finding of my research?
  • What is the most frustrating part of this project?
  • What is the most rewarding part of this project?
  • What will be my work’s most important contribution?

Research and note-taking

In conducting research, you will need to find both primary sources (“firsthand” sources that come directly from the period/events/people you are studying) and secondary sources (“secondhand” sources that are filtered through the interpretations of experts in your field.) The nature of your research will vary tremendously, depending on what field you’re in. For some general suggestions on finding sources, consult the UNC Libraries tutorials . Whatever the exact nature of the research you’re conducting, you’ll be taking lots of notes and should reflect critically on how you do that. Too often it’s assumed that the research phase of a project involves very little substantive writing (i.e., writing that involves thinking). We sit down with our research materials and plunder them for basic facts and useful quotations. That mechanical type of information-recording is important. But a more thoughtful type of writing and analytical thinking is also essential at this stage. Some general guidelines for note-taking:

First of all, develop a research system. There are lots of ways to take and organize your notes. Whether you choose to use note cards, computer databases, or notebooks, follow two cardinal rules:

  • Make careful distinctions between direct quotations and your paraphrasing! This is critical if you want to be sure to avoid accidentally plagiarizing someone else’s work. For more on this, see our handout on plagiarism .
  • Record full citations for each source. Don’t get lazy here! It will be far more difficult to find the proper citation later than to write it down now.

Keeping those rules in mind, here’s a template for the types of information that your note cards/legal pad sheets/computer files should include for each of your sources:

Abbreviated subject heading: Include two or three words to remind you of what this sources is about (this shorthand categorization is essential for the later sorting of your sources).

Complete bibliographic citation:

  • author, title, publisher, copyright date, and page numbers for published works
  • box and folder numbers and document descriptions for archival sources
  • complete web page title, author, address, and date accessed for online sources

Notes on facts, quotations, and arguments: Depending on the type of source you’re using, the content of your notes will vary. If, for example, you’re using US Census data, then you’ll mainly be writing down statistics and numbers. If you’re looking at someone else’s diary, you might jot down a number of quotations that illustrate the subject’s feelings and perspectives. If you’re looking at a secondary source, you’ll want to make note not just of factual information provided by the author but also of their key arguments.

Your interpretation of the source: This is the most important part of note-taking. Don’t just record facts. Go ahead and take a stab at interpreting them. As historians Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff insist, “A note is a thought.” So what do these thoughts entail? Ask yourself questions about the context and significance of each source.

Interpreting the context of a source:

  • Who wrote/created the source?
  • When, and under what circumstances, was it written/created?
  • Why was it written/created? What was the agenda behind the source?
  • How was it written/created?
  • If using a secondary source: How does it speak to other scholarship in the field?

Interpreting the significance of a source:

  • How does this source answer (or complicate) my guiding research questions?
  • Does it pose new questions for my project? What are they?
  • Does it challenge my fundamental argument? If so, how?
  • Given the source’s context, how reliable is it?

You don’t need to answer all of these questions for each source, but you should set a goal of engaging in at least one or two sentences of thoughtful, interpretative writing for each source. If you do so, you’ll make much easier the next task that awaits you: drafting.

The dread of drafting

Why do we often dread drafting? We dread drafting because it requires synthesis, one of the more difficult forms of thinking and interpretation. If you’ve been free-writing and taking thoughtful notes during the research phase of your project, then the drafting should be far less painful. Here are some tips on how to get started:

Sort your “evidence” or research into analytical categories:

  • Some people file note cards into categories.
  • The technologically-oriented among us take notes using computer database programs that have built-in sorting mechanisms.
  • Others cut and paste evidence into detailed outlines on their computer.
  • Still others stack books, notes, and photocopies into topically-arranged piles.There is not a single right way, but this step—in some form or fashion—is essential!

If you’ve been forcing yourself to put subject headings on your notes as you go along, you’ll have generated a number of important analytical categories. Now, you need to refine those categories and sort your evidence. Everyone has a different “sorting style.”

Formulate working arguments for your entire thesis and individual chapters. Once you’ve sorted your evidence, you need to spend some time thinking about your project’s “big picture.” You need to be able to answer two questions in specific terms:

  • What is the overall argument of my thesis?
  • What are the sub-arguments of each chapter and how do they relate to my main argument?

Keep in mind that “working arguments” may change after you start writing. But a senior thesis is big and potentially unwieldy. If you leave this business of argument to chance, you may end up with a tangle of ideas. See our handout on arguments and handout on thesis statements for some general advice on formulating arguments.

Divide your thesis into manageable chunks. The surest road to frustration at this stage is getting obsessed with the big picture. What? Didn’t we just say that you needed to focus on the big picture? Yes, by all means, yes. You do need to focus on the big picture in order to get a conceptual handle on your project, but you also need to break your thesis down into manageable chunks of writing. For example, take a small stack of note cards and flesh them out on paper. Or write through one point on a chapter outline. Those small bits of prose will add up quickly.

Just start! Even if it’s not at the beginning. Are you having trouble writing those first few pages of your chapter? Sometimes the introduction is the toughest place to start. You should have a rough idea of your overall argument before you begin writing one of the main chapters, but you might find it easier to start writing in the middle of a chapter of somewhere other than word one. Grab hold where you evidence is strongest and your ideas are clearest.

Keep up the momentum! Assuming the first draft won’t be your last draft, try to get your thoughts on paper without spending too much time fussing over minor stylistic concerns. At the drafting stage, it’s all about getting those ideas on paper. Once that task is done, you can turn your attention to revising.

Peter Elbow, in Writing With Power, suggests that writing is difficult because it requires two conflicting tasks: creating and criticizing. While these two tasks are intimately intertwined, the drafting stage focuses on creating, while revising requires criticizing. If you leave your revising to the last minute, then you’ve left out a crucial stage of the writing process. See our handout for some general tips on revising . The challenges of revising an honors thesis may include:

Juggling feedback from multiple readers

A senior thesis may mark the first time that you have had to juggle feedback from a wide range of readers:

  • your adviser
  • a second (and sometimes third) faculty reader
  • the professor and students in your honors thesis seminar

You may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of incorporating all this advice. Keep in mind that some advice is better than others. You will probably want to take most seriously the advice of your adviser since they carry the most weight in giving your project a stamp of approval. But sometimes your adviser may give you more advice than you can digest. If so, don’t be afraid to approach them—in a polite and cooperative spirit, of course—and ask for some help in prioritizing that advice. See our handout for some tips on getting and receiving feedback .

Refining your argument

It’s especially easy in writing a lengthy work to lose sight of your main ideas. So spend some time after you’ve drafted to go back and clarify your overall argument and the individual chapter arguments and make sure they match the evidence you present.

Organizing and reorganizing

Again, in writing a 50-75 page thesis, things can get jumbled. You may find it particularly helpful to make a “reverse outline” of each of your chapters. That will help you to see the big sections in your work and move things around so there’s a logical flow of ideas. See our handout on  organization  for more organizational suggestions and tips on making a reverse outline

Plugging in holes in your evidence

It’s unlikely that you anticipated everything you needed to look up before you drafted your thesis. Save some time at the revising stage to plug in the holes in your research. Make sure that you have both primary and secondary evidence to support and contextualize your main ideas.

Saving time for the small stuff

Even though your argument, evidence, and organization are most important, leave plenty of time to polish your prose. At this point, you’ve spent a very long time on your thesis. Don’t let minor blemishes (misspellings and incorrect grammar) distract your readers!

Formatting and final touches

You’re almost done! You’ve researched, drafted, and revised your thesis; now you need to take care of those pesky little formatting matters. An honors thesis should replicate—on a smaller scale—the appearance of a dissertation or master’s thesis. So, you need to include the “trappings” of a formal piece of academic work. For specific questions on formatting matters, check with your department to see if it has a style guide that you should use. For general formatting guidelines, consult the Graduate School’s Guide to Dissertations and Theses . Keeping in mind the caveat that you should always check with your department first about its stylistic guidelines, here’s a brief overview of the final “finishing touches” that you’ll need to put on your honors thesis:

  • Honors Thesis
  • Name of Department
  • University of North Carolina
  • These parts of the thesis will vary in format depending on whether your discipline uses MLA, APA, CBE, or Chicago (also known in its shortened version as Turabian) style. Whichever style you’re using, stick to the rules and be consistent. It might be helpful to buy an appropriate style guide. Or consult the UNC LibrariesYear Citations/footnotes and works cited/reference pages  citation tutorial
  • In addition, in the bottom left corner, you need to leave space for your adviser and faculty readers to sign their names. For example:

Approved by: _____________________

Adviser: Prof. Jane Doe

  • This is not a required component of an honors thesis. However, if you want to thank particular librarians, archivists, interviewees, and advisers, here’s the place to do it. You should include an acknowledgments page if you received a grant from the university or an outside agency that supported your research. It’s a good idea to acknowledge folks who helped you with a major project, but do not feel the need to go overboard with copious and flowery expressions of gratitude. You can—and should—always write additional thank-you notes to people who gave you assistance.
  • Formatted much like the table of contents.
  • You’ll need to save this until the end, because it needs to reflect your final pagination. Once you’ve made all changes to the body of the thesis, then type up your table of contents with the titles of each section aligned on the left and the page numbers on which those sections begin flush right.
  • Each page of your thesis needs a number, although not all page numbers are displayed. All pages that precede the first page of the main text (i.e., your introduction or chapter one) are numbered with small roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, etc.). All pages thereafter use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.).
  • Your text should be double spaced (except, in some cases, long excerpts of quoted material), in a 12 point font and a standard font style (e.g., Times New Roman). An honors thesis isn’t the place to experiment with funky fonts—they won’t enhance your work, they’ll only distract your readers.
  • In general, leave a one-inch inch margin on all sides. However, for the copy of your thesis that will be bound by the library, you need to leave a 1.25-inch margin on the left.

How do I defend my honors thesis?

Graciously, enthusiastically, and confidently. The term defense is scary and misleading—it conjures up images of a military exercise or an athletic maneuver. An academic defense ideally shouldn’t be a combative scene but a congenial conversation about the work’s merits and weaknesses. That said, the defense probably won’t be like the average conversation that you have with your friends. You’ll be the center of attention. And you may get some challenging questions. Thus, it’s a good idea to spend some time preparing yourself. First of all, you’ll want to prepare 5-10 minutes of opening comments. Here’s a good time to preempt some criticisms by frankly acknowledging what you think your work’s greatest strengths and weaknesses are. Then you may be asked some typical questions:

  • What is the main argument of your thesis?
  • How does it fit in with the work of Ms. Famous Scholar?
  • Have you read the work of Mr. Important Author?

NOTE: Don’t get too flustered if you haven’t! Most scholars have their favorite authors and books and may bring one or more of them up, even if the person or book is only tangentially related to the topic at hand. Should you get this question, answer honestly and simply jot down the title or the author’s name for future reference. No one expects you to have read everything that’s out there.

  • Why did you choose this particular case study to explore your topic?
  • If you were to expand this project in graduate school, how would you do so?

Should you get some biting criticism of your work, try not to get defensive. Yes, this is a defense, but you’ll probably only fan the flames if you lose your cool. Keep in mind that all academic work has flaws or weaknesses, and you can be sure that your professors have received criticisms of their own work. It’s part of the academic enterprise. Accept criticism graciously and learn from it. If you receive criticism that is unfair, stand up for yourself confidently, but in a good spirit. Above all, try to have fun! A defense is a rare opportunity to have eminent scholars in your field focus on YOU and your ideas and work. And the defense marks the end of a long and arduous journey. You have every right to be proud of your accomplishments!

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Atchity, Kenneth. 1986. A Writer’s Time: A Guide to the Creative Process from Vision Through Revision . New York: W.W. Norton.

Barzun, Jacques, and Henry F. Graff. 2012. The Modern Researcher , 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Elbow, Peter. 1998. Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process . New York: Oxford University Press.

Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. 2014. “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing , 3rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

Lamott, Anne. 1994. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life . New York: Pantheon.

Lasch, Christopher. 2002. Plain Style: A Guide to Written English. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Turabian, Kate. 2018. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, Dissertations , 9th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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How to Write a Good Thesis

Last Updated: May 10, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Bryce Warwick, JD and by wikiHow staff writer, Janice Tieperman . Bryce Warwick is currently the President of Warwick Strategies, an organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area offering premium, personalized private tutoring for the GMAT, LSAT and GRE. Bryce has a JD from the George Washington University Law School. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 102,700 times.

Do you have a big term paper or essay on your academic horizons? Before diving into your assignment, you’ll need a thesis: a clear, sentence-long explanation at the end of your first/introductory paragraph that defines what your paper will be analyzing, explaining, or arguing. [1] X Research source A good thesis is easy to write if you know what to include—that’s why we’re here to walk you through everything you need to know. Read on for plenty of tips, explanations, and examples to help take your thesis-writing game to the next level.

How do you write a strong thesis statement?

Step 1 Identify the type of thesis you need to write.

  • Argumentative prompt example: Technology helps students succeed in school. The prompt wants you to state whether you agree or disagree with this stance, and why.
  • Analytical prompt example: Do video games influence the thoughts and actions of teenagers? The prompt wants you to research both sides of this controversial topic and come up with an analysis.
  • Expository prompt example: Why is a calorie deficit diet plan effective for weight loss? The prompt wants you to go into detail on a specific topic.

Step 2 Transform your assignment into a research question.

  • The prompt “Genetically-modified foods provide an essential service to society” could be changed to “Do genetically-modified foods provide an essential service to society?”
  • The prompt “Many people are divided over the advantages and disadvantages of wearing masks” could be adjusted to “What are the pros and cons of wearing masks?”

Step 3 Create a succinct thesis by responding to your research question.

  • Example: GMOs provide a high volume of delicious, long-lasting food, making them an essential service to society.
  • Example: Although politicians debate the practicality of masks in a post-pandemic society, evidence suggests that regular masking helps prevent the transmission of harmful illnesses.
  • Remember—your thesis is a work in progress! You’re welcome to tweak, adjust, and completely change your thesis so it accurately represents your research.
  • If your professor or teacher assigns an essay or paper with a pre-assigned topic, you might not have to do as much research.

What makes a thesis statement good or effective?

Step 1 A good thesis statement provides a clear stance.

  • Bad thesis: Pollution is harmful.
  • Better thesis: Pollution risks harming millions of people through the spread of toxins in the air and waterways.

Step 2 A good thesis statement includes a discussable topic.

  • Bad thesis: Pineapple is a pizza topping.
  • Better thesis: Pineapple’s sweet flavor profile makes it an unsavory choice as a pizza topping.

Step 3 A good thesis statement highlights a specific thought or idea.

  • Bad thesis: Drunk driving is bad.
  • Better thesis: Alcohol impairs a person’s mental functions, making it difficult and dangerous for them to drive a vehicle.

Step 4 A good thesis statement doesn’t leave a reader asking “how” or “why.”

  • Bad thesis: Twitter is good and bad.
  • Better thesis: Twitter offers greater visibility to important issues at the risk of imparting a heavy bias.

Step 5 A good thesis statement clearly answers the question “so what?”

  • Bad thesis: The rise of technology has pros and cons.
  • Better thesis: The rise of technology improves digital literacy, but limits opportunities for in-person interactions.

Step 6 A good thesis focuses on a single subject.

  • Bad thesis: The 1970s served as a turning point for women’s rights, LGBT rights, and environmental awareness.
  • Better thesis: The 1970s launched a new era for women’s rights that has continued on into the 21st century.

Examples of Thesis Statements

Step 1 Argumentative

  • Eliminate passive verbs like “is” or “was”—they don’t paint a very clear picture for your reader.

Step 3 Expository

  • A list format works well for expository thesis statements! List out the different topics you’ll be discussing, and then dedicate different sections of your paper to each point.

Expert Q&A

  • Ask your professor or teacher for a second opinion once you’ve drafted your thesis. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

when do you have to write a thesis in college

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Restate a Thesis

  • ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/process/thesis_or_purpose/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/writing-a-thesis
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
  • ↑ https://depts.washington.edu/pswrite/thesisstmt.html
  • ↑ https://www.norwellschools.org/cms/lib02/MA01001453/Centricity/Domain/206/Thesis%20Statement.pdf
  • ↑ https://clas.uiowa.edu/history/teaching-and-writing-center/guides/argumentation
  • ↑ http://www.u.arizona.edu/~sung/pdf/thesis.pdf

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Bryce Warwick, JD

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Starting Your Research: Research Question vs. Thesis Statement

  • Choosing a Topic
  • Narrowing Your Topic
  • Research Question vs. Thesis Statement

The Difference Between a Research Question and a Thesis Statement

Many of us have been taught that in order to start a research paper we need a thesis statement, and while that’s true, coming up with the thesis statement first is not necessarily a good way to start your research. Simply stated, a thesis statement is what your paper intends to prove or show. A research question is what you need to learn in order to come up with a good thesis statement. It's better to start with a research question for two main reasons:

  • Starting with a thesis statement presupposes that you already know enough about your topic to have not only a well-informed opinion, but the most up-to-date and expert opinion possible on the matter. The vast majority of us don’t have that kind of knowledge about academic subjects, so research is required. Before you take a stand on an issue, you need to be well-informed about it. 
  • Starting with a thesis statement builds your own biases into your search and limits your findings only to the ones you expected to find in the first place, which keeps you from learning important new things.

Example: Binge Drinking and College Students

Let’s say you want to write a paper about binge drinking and college students.

If you start with the thesis statement, “Binge drinking among college students is caused by peer pressure and rebellion,” and search for those terms, one of three things will happen:

  • You will find all the information you need to know because peer pressure and rebellion are the only two reasons that college students binge drink  (not very likely)
  • You will find no information because experts all agree that binge drinking is caused by other factors.  (not very likely)
  • You will find some of the information you need, but not all of it, because your query does not allow for results that show other important reasons that students binge drink.  (very likely!)

On the other hand, if you start from the point of asking, “What are the reasons that college students binge drink?” you will find ALL of the reasons that experts think college students binge drink, not just the ones that agree with you. This approach exposes you to a fuller range of ideas about the topic than you started with and that knowledge can only make your paper or project better.  

After you have completed your research and read the articles you retrieved, in order to write a thesis statement, all you have to do is answer your research question with the information that you have discovered:

“What are the causes of binge drinking among college students?”  may become "The causes of binge drinking among college students are socialization, pleasure, the affordability of alcohol, and the institutional promotion of drinking culture."

  • << Previous: Narrowing Your Topic
  • Next: Searching >>
  • Last Updated: Feb 9, 2024 8:43 AM
  • URL: https://researchguides.ccc.edu/hwc/starting-research

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FACT SHEET: President   Biden Cancels Student Debt for more than 150,000 Student Loan Borrowers Ahead of   Schedule

Today, President Biden announced the approval of $1.2 billion in student debt cancellation for almost 153,000 borrowers currently enrolled in the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) repayment plan. The Biden-Harris Administration has now approved nearly $138 billion in student debt cancellation for almost 3.9 million borrowers through more than two dozen executive actions. The borrowers receiving relief are the first to benefit from a SAVE plan policy that provides debt forgiveness to borrowers who have been in repayment after as little as 10 years and took out $12,000 or less in student loans. Originally planned for July, the Biden-Harris Administration implemented this provision of SAVE and is providing relief to borrowers nearly six months ahead of schedule.

From Day One of his Administration, President Biden vowed to fix the student loan system and make sure higher education is a pathway to the middle class – not a barrier to opportunity. Already, the President has cancelled more student debt than any President in history – delivering lifechanging relief to students and families – and has created the most affordable student loan repayment plan ever: the SAVE plan. While Republicans in Congress and their allies try to block President Biden every step of the way, the Biden-Harris Administration continues to cancel student debt for millions of borrowers, and is leaving no stone unturned in the fight to give more borrowers breathing room on their student loans.

Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration’s SAVE plan, starting today, the Administration will be cancelling debt for borrowers who are enrolled in the SAVE plan, have been in repayment for at least 10 years and took out $12,000 or less in loans for college. For every additional $1,000 a borrower initially borrowed, they will receive relief after an additional year of payments. For example, a borrower enrolled in SAVE who took out $14,000 or less in federal loans to earn an associate’s degree in biotechnology would receive full debt relief starting this week if they have been in repayment for 12 years. The U.S. Department of Education (Department) identified nearly 153,000 borrowers who are enrolled in SAVE plan who will have their debt cancelled starting this week, and those borrowers will receive an email today from President Biden informing them of their imminent relief. Next week, the Department of Education will also be reaching out directly to borrowers who are eligible for early relief but not currently enrolled in the SAVE Plan to encourage them to enroll as soon as possible. This shortened time to forgiveness will particularly help community college and other borrowers with smaller loans and put many on track to being free of student debt faster than ever before. Under the Biden-Harris Administration’s SAVE plan, 85 percent of future community college borrowers will be debt free within 10 years. The Department will continue to regularly identify and discharge other borrowers eligible for relief under this provision on SAVE. Over four million borrowers have a $0 monthly payment under the SAVE Plan Last year, President Biden launched the SAVE plan – the most affordable repayment plan ever. Under the SAVE plan, monthly payments are based on a borrower’s income and family size, not their loan balance. The SAVE plan ensures that if borrowers are making their monthly payments, their balances cannot grow because of unpaid interest. And, starting in July, undergraduate loan payments will be cut in half, capping a borrower’s loan payment at 5% of their discretionary income. Already, 7.5 million borrowers are enrolled in the SAVE Plan, and 4.3 million borrowers have a $0 monthly payment.  

Today, the White House Council of Economic Advisers released an issue brief highlighting how low and middle-income borrowers enrolled in SAVE could see significant saving in terms of interest saved over time and principal forgiven as a result of SAVE’s early forgiveness provisions.

when do you have to write a thesis in college

President Biden’s Administration has approved student debt relief for nearly 3.9 million Americans through various actions

Today’s announcement builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s track record of taking historic action to cancel student debt for millions of borrowers. Since taking office, the Biden-Harris Administration has approved debt cancellation for nearly 3.9 million Americans, totaling almost $138 billion in debt relief through various actions. This relief has given borrowers critical breathing room in their daily lives, allowing them to afford other expenses, buy homes, start businesses, or pursue dreams they had to put on hold because of the burden of student loan debt. President Biden remains committed to providing debt relief to as many borrowers as possible, and won’t stop fighting to deliver relief to more Americans.

The Biden-Harris Administration has also taken historic steps to improve the student loan program and make higher education more affordable for more Americans, including:

  • Achieving the largest increases in Pell Grants in over a decade to help families who earn less than $60,000 a year achieve their higher-education goals.
  • Fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program so that borrowers who go into public service get the debt relief they’re entitled to under the law. Before President Biden took office, only 7,000 people ever received debt relief through PSLF. After fixing the program, the Biden-Harris Administration has now cancelled student loan debt for nearly 800,000 public service workers.
  • Cancelling student loan debt for more than 930,000 borrowers who have been in repayment for over 20 years but never got the relief they earned because of administrative failures with Income-Driven Repayment Plans.
  • Pursuing an alternative path to deliver student debt relief to as many borrowers as possible in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Administration’s original debt relief plan. Last week, the Department of Education released proposed regulatory text to cancel student debt for borrowers who are experiencing hardship paying back their student loans, and late last year released proposals to cancel student debt for borrowers who: owe more than they borrowed, first entered repayment 20 or 25 years ago, attended low quality programs, and who would be eligible for loan forgiveness through income-driven repayment programs like SAVE but have not applied.
  • Holding colleges accountable for leaving students with unaffordable debts.

It’s easy to enroll in SAVE. Borrowers should go to studentaid.gov/save to start saving.  

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Why the Case Against Fani Willis Feels Familiar to Black Women

In interviews, professional women were dismayed by the personal attacks on the Georgia prosecutor, but not surprised.

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A portrait of Fani Willis, the district attorney of Futon County, Ga.

By Clyde McGrady and Katie Glueck

Tangala L. Hollis-Palmer felt a sense of pride when she learned that Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., and one of the nation’s few elected Black female prosecutors, would lead the election interference case against former President Donald J. Trump.

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But that pride would be tempered by dismay as news emerged of Ms. Willis’s personal relationship with a fellow prosecutor, Nathan J. Wade , an outside lawyer she hired to help run the case. Ms. Hollis-Palmer, a Black, 40-year-old attorney from Mississippi, is mostly upset at critics trying, she said, to discredit Ms. Willis. At first, she was skeptical of the allegations. But when Ms. Willis herself conceded the relationship, Ms. Hollis reserved some disappointment for the prosecutor who should have used a “little more discretion and a little better judgment,” she said.

Mr. Trump and several co-defendants are calling Ms. Willis’s hiring of Mr. Wade a conflict of interest and want Ms. Willis and Mr. Wade disqualified, potentially upending a critical case against the former president and doing grievous damage to Ms. Willis’s reputation.

“We just have to be so careful when we are in these positions to not give people the ammunition to come after us,” Ms. Hollis-Palmer said.

On Thursday, a Georgia judge is scheduled to hear evidence on the relationship between the two prosecutors.

A defense lawyer for one of Mr. Trump’s co-defendants argues that Ms. Willis’s hiring of Mr. Wade is a “form of self-dealing” that provides Ms. Willis with incentive to keep the case going.

Mr. Wade has earned more than $650,000 since his hiring in 2021 while also spending money on joint vacations he has taken with Ms. Willis, issues that will be central to the hearing this week. Ms. Willis has said that the costs of joint personal travel have been “divided roughly evenly” between her and Mr. Wade.

Interviews with a dozen Black women at varying stages of their careers found them to be painfully conflicted about Ms. Willis’s situation and her treatment in the public eye.

To many, there is something galling about watching Mr. Trump and his allies attack Ms. Willis over a consensual romantic relationship when he has faced accusations of sexual misconduct and assault. Mr. Trump was recently ordered by a Manhattan jury to pay $83.3 million to the writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her after she accused him of a decades-old rape. A civil jury also found Mr. Trump liable for sexually abusing Ms. Carroll.

Some lamented Ms. Willis’s conduct as a mistake, but not one that should remove her from the case against Mr. Trump. Others, thinking about their own experiences in the workplace, suggested another concern: They feel that Black women are held to a different standard and that Ms. Willis should have known that her identity, along with the enormous political stakes of the case, would create a white-hot spotlight on her personal conduct.

“I can’t sit in judgment of her as a human being, but I can say, in terms of her role as a public prosecutor, yeah, she showed bad judgment,” said Donna Brazile, a former chair of the Democratic National Committee, adding that she had always kept a clear separation between her own personal and professional life with “a bright red line.”

She said Ms. Willis faced “vitriol” and “racial animus” as a woman of color in a position of power.

But, Ms. Brazile said, some of the attention is to be expected for a high-profile person involved in a high-profile case, especially one that concerns a former president of the United States.

“She is undergoing public scrutiny — she’s a public official,” Ms. Brazile said. “Comes with the territory.”

Jeff DiSantis, a spokesman for Ms. Willis’s office, declined to comment.

The discussions about race, gender and Ms. Willis’s dilemma have played out in group chats with text messages flying back and forth, in kitchen table discussions between couples and at student hangouts.

“We deal with the sexism as well as the racism,” Ms. Hollis-Palmer said. “But sometimes the sexism is a little worse.” She practices law with her husband and said that when they walk into a courtroom, people automatically assume that he’s the lead counsel. “A lot of times people have thought that I was his assistant,” she added.

When publicly discussing Ms. Willis’s predicament, some women of color have tried to walk a tightrope of empathy and anger.

Those conflicting feelings played out during a recent discussion on the daytime talk show “The View.”

“I’m very pissed off, too,” said the co-host Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, who is a Nicaraguan American. “Because when you are a woman of color in such a high-profile position, you know that the scrutiny that’s going to befall you is greater than on anybody else, and she needed to have kept her house clean.”

The co-host Sunny Hostin, who is Black and Latina, chimed in, “Your stuff cannot stink,” before adding that she agreed with Ms. Navarro-Cárdenas.

In some cases, the concerns about Ms. Willis’s treatment are balanced with uneasiness over how her behavior could jeopardize a potential Trump conviction.

“My initial reaction was that it seemed to be kind of a halfhearted attempt to get the entire case thrown out, which I thought was just an incredible stretch,” said Faith Udobang, 25, president of the University of Chicago Black Law Student Association.

But now she is worried that the misconduct accusations against Ms. Willis could delay the outcome until after the election.

“I believe the American people deserve to have adequate information once they go to the polls,” she said.

Some legal observers have said the attempts to disqualify Ms. Willis rest on shaky legal ground. They say the allegations against Ms. Willis have nothing to do with whether or not Mr. Trump interfered with the state’s election in 2020, and conspired to subvert the will of Georgia voters. But lawyers for defendants could use the misconduct allegations to undermine perceptions about the fairness of the prosecution by calling into question Ms. Willis’s judgment.

In a January address at one of Atlanta’s oldest Black churches, Ms. Willis suggested that her critics are playing the “race card.” She defended her hiring of Mr. Wade and said that his “impeccable credentials” were only being questioned because they are both Black.

“Obviously, it was in somebody’s interest to bring her down,” said the former Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Democrat of Illinois and the first Black woman to serve in the Senate. “The fact that she’s a high-profile Black woman just means that she’s a bigger target.”

Others are less sure that race or gender are central to fueling the accusations, but instead argue that anyone in Ms. Willis’s position would be the target of personal attacks from Mr. Trump.

Luci Walker, a 54-year-old data analyst from Decatur, Ga., said she doesn’t believe Ms. Willis’s race or gender had played a role in the scrutiny.

“It would be some reason or another, but I think they might just be looking for excuses to get out of it, or to get her off the case,” Ms. Walker said.

Leah D. Daughtry, a veteran Democratic strategist, said that the focus on Ms. Willis’s personal life was, in some ways, in keeping with the kind of attention that follows many in public life. But there is an added complication for Black women, she said.

“There are people who will be emboldened and invigorated by the fact that she’s a Black woman and make it, then, their business to go further and farther than they may have gone,” she said. It is “easy to argue that white men are not often held to the same scrutiny.”

She pointed to the many accusations of misconduct Mr. Trump has faced, including from Ms. Carroll.

“No one made that a disqualifier,” she said of the current Republican presidential front-runner. “But for Fani Willis, the fact that she’s in a consensual relationship with another adult person somehow makes her disqualified, or unqualified, to continue the work that she’s been doing. In that sense there’s a double standard, absolutely.”

Glynda C. Carr, the leader of Higher Heights for America, an organization focused on engaging Black women in politics, said she had been raised with the idea that Black women must be “twice” as good to navigate challenging dynamics in the workplace.

“Yes, we have a playbook about how we have to be twice as better, that we have to dot all the i’s and cross the t’s,” she said. When the public thinks Black women have made a mistake, she added, they “fall harder on the sword.”

Audio produced by Patricia Sulbarán .

Clyde McGrady reports on how race and identity is shaping American culture. He is based in Washington. More about Clyde McGrady

Katie Glueck is a national political reporter. Previously, she was chief Metro political correspondent, and a lead reporter for The Times covering the Biden campaign. She also covered politics for McClatchy’s Washington bureau and for Politico. More about Katie Glueck

Our Coverage of the Trump Case in Georgia

Former president donald trump and 18 others face a sprawling series of charges for their roles in attempting to interfere in the state’s 2020 presidential election..

RICO Charges:  At the heart of the indictment in Georgia  are racketeering charges under the state Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act . Here’s why such charges  could prove to be a powerful tool for the prosecution .

Who Else Was Indicted?:   Rudy   Giuliani , who led legal efforts in several states to keep the former president in power, and Mark Meadows , the former White House chief of staff, were among the 18 Trump allies  charged in the case.

Plea Deals: Sidney K. Powell , Kenneth Chesebro  and Jenna Ellis  — three lawyers indicted with Trump in the case — pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors   against the former president.

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones: Since the indictment of Trump and his allies, a question has gone unanswered: Would charges also be filed against the longtime Trump supporter? It is now up to a state agency to find a special prosecutor to investigate him .

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  28. Why the Case Against Fani Willis Feels Familiar to Black Women

    By Clyde McGrady and Katie Glueck. Feb. 14, 2024. Tangala L. Hollis-Palmer felt a sense of pride when she learned that Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., and one of the ...