Senior Papers & Honors Theses

These are the departmental requirements for senior papers and honors thesis.  A senior paper is required of all philosophy majors. In the case where a student decides to write an honors thesis (certain college-wide requirements apply), the honors thesis will substitute for the senior paper.


All Philosophy Majors must submit a Senior Paper as a requirement for the Major.  The paper is to be submitted to the Department chair for approval.

  • The Senior paper can be a paper written for a previous philosophy class, that will be reworked for the Senior Paper, or a new paper written from scratch. (We recommend the previous paper option)
  • Paper should be 20-30 pages, 5000-7000 words long
  • Paper must have a research component
  • Students will work with one faculty member from the department; another faculty member must be chosen as a reader.
  • Senior Paper is a one credit course
  • Senior paper must be submitted to the Department Chair for final approval

Timeline is as follows:

  • Before the end of fall semester (Thanksgiving), student identifies and asks a faculty member to work with them, and signs up for the credit course (PHIL499) (If writing in Fall semester, then Spring before)
  • By January 30, student submits an 300 word abstract of their paper (proposed) and a bibliography of sources for their research, to the their faculty advisor, with a copy to the Department Chair (Sept 15 if writing in Fall Semester)
  • First draft of the paper is due to the faculty advisor by Spring Break (Fall break if writing in Fall Semester)
  • April 15th, final version of the paper is due to faculty advisor and reader with a copy to the Department Chair (electronic submission).  Faculty advisor in consultation with reader will assignment a grade (P/F) (If writing in Fall semester, the deadline is Nov 15)


The senior paper requirement will be waived upon successful completion of an Honors Thesis

Students should consult with Registrar for Carroll College requirements and guidelines for Honors Thesis submission; the Registrar publishes guidelines, a timeline, and an application form to complete and submit by the end of September of your senior year. There are also GPA requirements for writing a thesis, and each thesis requires an oral presentation as a component of the process.  See the above mentioned materials for more information. Theses are due on May 1 of your senior year.

Departmental Guidelines for Honors Theses

  • Philosophy Honors Theses should be 50 pages long (12,500 words). There is no required style, use either MLA or APA; be consistent in your choice.
  • The topic must be a philosophical one; consult with your Director.  Theses can be either a topic in the history of philosophy, or a philosophical area.
  • Philosophy Honors Thesis must involve research component
  • The Director of the Honors Thesis and at least one Reader must be chosen from Philosophy Department Faculty.