Life @ U of T


My Experience Writing an Undergraduate Thesis

My Experience Writing an Undergraduate Thesis

This year, I’ve been working on a really exciting project… my undergraduate thesis! It’s my fourth year of university, and I decided to write an undergraduate thesis in Political Science under the supervision of a professor. This week, I wanted to write about why I decided to take a thesis, how I enrolled, and how it’s been going so far! 

A gif of a cat reading a book

What is an undergraduate thesis?

An undergraduate thesis is usually a 40-60 page paper written under the supervision of a professor, allowing you to explore a topic of your interest in-depth. I primarily decided to write an undergraduate thesis to prepare me for graduate school – it’s allowed me to get started on work I might continue in graduate school, hone my research skills, and test out whether academic research is for me.

How do I write an undergraduate thesis?

To write my undergraduate thesis, I had two options (this may vary depending on what department you’re in!). First, I could join the Senior Thesis Seminar offered by department. These seminars group students together who are interested in doing a thesis and teach them research skills and background information. Students then simultaneously complete a thesis under the supervision of a professor. Senior Thesis Seminars often require applications to register in, so if you’re interested in this option, make sure you look into this in your third year of study!

A picture of the Political Science department website advertising the Senior Thesis and Thesis Seminar
Check out your department website for info on thesis seminars!

Because I already had a close working relationship with a professor, I opted to instead do the second option, an Independent Study. An Independent Study allows you to work one-on-one with a professor and design whatever course you’re interested in. For either option, you’ll need to know what topic you’re interested in writing your thesis on and ask a professor to work with you, so make sure you’ve figured this out. 

How’s it going?

So far, I’m about half-way through my thesis and I’m having lots of fun. It’s a great way to get super involved in a topic I care about, and it’s preparing me for graduate research much more than any course I’ve taken in my undergraduate degree. I’ve also been enjoying working one-on-one with a professor and learning a lot from them about the field of study I’m interested in, what being an academic researcher is like, and what my position in the field is. 

A picture of someone reading the book Futures of Black Radicalism
Reading for my thesis!

I will say that an undergraduate thesis is a considerable amount of work! It definitely requires more work than all my other classes, and because I’m working so closely with a professor, there’s no way I can slack on it or procrastinate.

A picture of a cat on a pile of notes
Shoutout to my kitty for supporting me through the stress!

Still, if you’re interested in a topic and want to pursue it after your undergraduate studies, I think writing an undergraduate thesis is an incredible opportunity. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below!

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