A senior thesis is an extended original research project written under the supervision of a faculty adviser during the student’s senior year. Thesis projects are best suited for students who have an interest in exploring a specific question and/or a field of knowledge beyond their previous course work. Students may complete a senior thesis regardless of GPA.
Steps to Complete a Senior Thesis
- Determine a topic of interest.
- Find a faculty sponsor who is willing to supervise the thesis. Students may choose a faculty sponsor from any department affiliated with the International Studies Program, but the faculty sponsor must be a full-time Homewood faculty member and not from another division of Johns Hopkins (e.g., SAIS, Bloomberg School of Public Health, etc.) Please Note: Both a topic of interest and faculty sponsor should be solidified by the end of spring semester junior year. Failure to do so may make attempting a thesis impossible.
- Register for an independent study with the faculty sponsor (or other thesis course required by the faculty sponsor’s home department) in the fall semester.
- In the spring semester, if the faculty sponsor feels that sufficient progress has been made, register for a second independent study with the faculty sponsor and/or other thesis course required by the faculty sponsor’s home department.
- For students planning to graduate in December, the first independent study/thesis course should be taken in the spring semester of junior year and the second independent study/thesis course should be taken during the final semester of enrollment in the fall.
General Thesis Guidelines
- The thesis should be a total of 6 credits, 3 credits in the fall and 3 credits in the spring, and both courses should be for a letter grade
- The courses can be independent studies, a departmental thesis course, capstone seminar, or independent research
- International Studies follows the University standard that grades of C- or better will count for the thesis.
- Although the International Studies Program does not have a page length requirement, most theses in the program are between 50 and 100 pages.
- The most crucial aspect of the thesis is that the topic must be internationally-focused to be considered an international studies thesis. Failing this, the thesis will be ineligible for the Robert Tucker Prize for Best Thesis in International Studies.
- The final draft of the thesis should be submitted to the faculty sponsor by the last day of classes the semester the student intends to graduate. Not adhering to this deadline could make the thesis ineligible for the Robert Tucker Prize.
Students enrolled in one of the double major tracks are encouraged to follow the thesis guidelines for that track, which may differ from International Studies. Global Social Change and Development (sociology) students can find more information on the Department of Sociology web site. World Politics and Global Governance (political science) students should register for AS.190.498 Thesis Colloquium during the fall semester.
Departmental honors will be awarded to students who have a major GPA in the top 20% of the International Studies graduating class, regardless of whether they have written a senior thesis.
The Robert Tucker Prize
The Robert Tucker Prize is presented to the best international studies thesis in a given year and is named after the first director of the International Studies Program – Robert Warren Tucker, Professor Emeritus of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins University, Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Tucker received his B.S. from the United States Naval Academy in 1945 and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1949. He was co-editor of The National Interest from 1985 to 1990, and president of the Lehrman Institute from 1982 to 1987. He has published essays in Foreign Affairs, World Policy Journal, The National Interest, Harpers, and The New Republic. His 1977 book The Inequality of Nations is a highly skeptical analysis of the Third World’s efforts to redistribute power and wealth in the international system.
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