Senior Essay Program Description

The Senior Essay Program offers qualified seniors the opportunity to write a substantial piece of critical writing (of approximately 10,000 words), under the close supervision of a faculty member in the English and Comparative Literature Department.  Senior essayists will meet with their supervisors every two weeks during the spring semester.  In addition, participants in the program will be required to attend a bi-weekly series of Essay Seminars, running from November through March, which will supplement their one-on-one advising meetings with sessions on research methods and advanced critical writing (in the fall), and draft workshops (in the spring).

All senior English majors in the College and in General Studies with at least a 3.65 GPA in their English courses can apply to the Senior Essay Program.  

Please note:  if you wish to write a Senior Essay, but envision any conflicts with the rest of your academic program, please contact the DUS to discuss possible solutions.  

Applications will be due the last Monday in October, and must include the following:

  1. A completed Senior Essay Program application form (found here)
  2. transcript (unofficial SSOL printout is fine), indicating relevant coursework. 
  3. research proposal of approximately 1000 words, including a preliminary bibliography of primary and secondary sources. 

The DUS will hold a meeting early in the fall semester offering guidance in the preparation of a successful research proposal.  Meanwhile, students interested in applying to the program should devote some time during the summer between their junior and senior years to think about what kinds of topics they might want to explore, and what faculty members might supervise their work. 


Applications will be evaluated by the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE), in consultation with experts in the fields covered by the proposals.  Selections will be made on the basis of the proposals’ cogency and feasibility, on the level of preparation indicated by the transcript, on the availability of faculty sponsors for the specific topics proposed, and on space available in the Essay Seminar. 

The list of Senior Essayists, with their assigned supervisors, will be announced the week after applications are due; accepted Essayists should register for the four-point Senior Essay course, English UN3999, during the November registration period.

Final essay drafts will be due May 1 (subject to change). 

A preliminary draft (about 20 pages) will be due to supervisors on the first Monday in March. 

In addition, the Essay Seminar will have other smaller deadlines along the way. 


Faculty sponsors will submit to the DUS an evaluation of the essay and a grade for the essay course, and will also return final comments to the student.  The CUE will provide essayists with an additional set of written final comments, and also will consider Senior Essays for departmental honors and prizes.