Resources for Thesis Committees

Here are some useful links for faculty who are advising theses. Please feel free to contact the Undergraduate Research Program if you have any questions or concerns about your duties and responsibilities as an advisor or reader. 

Duties and Responsibilities of the Primary Advisor

The primary advisor bears the bulk of the thesis advising duties. You will be the main contact with the student and responsible for filling out the various forms. Given the variety of the methods of different disciplines, there is no standard guidelines for what a good thesis looks like. The All College Thesis Program encourages you to take a look at previous theses in your discipline, especially if you haven’t supervised a thesis recently. You can find recent theses here here.

As the primary advisor, you are responsible for helping the student accomplish the following tasks in a timely manner:
1. developing a research plan and understanding of research methodology, including the use of special techniques or equipment,
2. doing an adequate literature search and developing a bibliography,
3. limiting the topic,
4. achieving a good outline, organization, and style,
5. preparing for the final draft by reading the thesis drafts carefully and critically, and
6. leading the public defense.

Duties and Responsibilities of the Reader

The duties and the responsibilities of the reader are less onerous than those of the primary advisor. Frequently, readers are chosen because their research interests differ from the primary advisor, but overlap with the student’s research. In these cases, the reader is expected to provide expert guidance on those parts of the project with which she is most familiar.

The following tasks are required of all thesis readers:
1. The reader must carefully read and provide feedback on the Thesis Proposal.
2. The reader must carefully and critically read the final draft of the thesis in time for the defense.
3. The reader must attend the defense and participate in the evaluation of the project.

At the Undergraduate Research Porgram's mission focuses on a commitment to high-quality faculty mentorship, we encourage the readers to go beyond these requirements. We know from student surveys that many thesis writers wished for more contact with their readers.

Summer Thesis Fellows

Summer fellowships are available for rising seniors who want to work on their thesis over the summer. Details about the fellowships can be found under Summer Thesis Fellows. Please encourage your scholar to apply; if your scholar applies, their application will be shared with you for endorsement. 

General Timeline of your Responsibilites

  • Encourage students to enroll in 396 during second semester of junior year
  • Assist scholar in identifying a thesis committee and report this by April 1
  • Encourage scholar to apply for Summer Thesis Fellows by March 15 (optional)
  • Your scholar should submit their proposal to you between by September 15; discuss with committee as needed
  • Expect draft of completed thesis by March 15 
  • Nominations due for Outstanding Thesis Award by April 1
  • Agree upon a defense date by April 1, completed by April 14
  • Submit thesis evaluation by last day of classes

**please note that dates may vary if your scholar is not graduating in the spring. Please refer to our alternative semester-by-semester planning handouts on the homepage.