Grace Doerfler standing in front of an open file cabinet while doing research

A milestone project

Glynn Scholars write a senior thesis over the two semesters of their senior year. The thesis represents the culmination of their work in the Glynn Program and as undergraduates at Notre Dame.

Some scholars develop a research project within their major, while others write independently. Some base their thesis on scientific work done in a lab in previous semesters or summers, while others may travel to do research in archives or engage in fieldwork, and still others will pursue purely theoretical or creative work.

The thesis can take many forms, from a scientific study to a social science research paper to a novel, concerto, or architectural portfolio.

Frequently asked questions

My thesis was definitely my favorite part of the Glynn program. Writing my thesis gave me an opportunity to translate my education from the classroom into the community. Through my thesis, I was able to demonstrate interdisciplinary learning, using skills and knowledge from across the fields I've gained experience in... I will look back on my thesis as one of the biggest achievements of my time at Notre Dame. – Analie Fernandes '22

Senior Thesis FAQs

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When should I start thinking about my Glynn thesis?

As early as possible! Think about classes and topics that have sparked your interest to learn more about an idea or a problem. Talk with faculty in your major about research in their discipline. By fall semester of your junior year, you should be nailing down a topic and talking to potential advisors. Apply for a senior thesis grant your junior spring to support summer research if needed. 

Can I look at theses by former Glynn students?

Yes! We always keep a box of theses by students in the College of Science and College of Arts and Letters in the Glynn Lounge. Ask Kelly for more information. 

Do I have to write a thesis in my major?

No. Most Glynn Scholars do write a thesis in their major, but you can write a thesis for a minor or you can write independently, outside of any academic program. In all cases, you will need a Notre Dame faculty advisor. 

What is the timeline for writing a Glynn thesis?

A few departments require a thesis class in spring of junior year, but most students will begin writing the thesis in fall of their senior year. In fall, you will meet with your advisor and attend the Glynn research colloquium where we will hold you to a series of deadlines that keep you researching and writing. In spring, you will finish and submit your thesis. 

How long should my thesis be? 

Follow the standards for your major, minor, or program. If you are writing independently, consult with your advisor about expectations for the discipline, and talk to the Glynn directors for further guidance. 

Can my capstone project double-count as a senior thesis?

It depends. Many minors and some majors require a one-semester "capstone project." To satisfy the Glynn requirement, you will need to expand a one-semester paper into a larger, two-semester project with more research and writing. Check with the Glynn directors to determine what additional work you will need to do. 

Can my thesis be a creative project?

Yes. In the past, students have written novels, children’s books, and graphic novels, composed music or mastered a musical repertoire, assembled a portfolio of visual art, and more. 

I'm an Architecture student. What do I do?

Architecture students produce the required thesis project in Architecture in their fifth year

What thesis courses are required for Glynn?

There are two thesis courses required for Glynn: in fall, the one-credit Research Colloquium, in which you share your research with your classmates and submit a series of assignments related to your thesis; in spring, a one-credit Writing Colloquium, where you meet regularly with other Glynn students to share and discuss your writing.

My department already has a thesis class. Do I have to take the one-credit Glynn senior thesis colloquia?

In almost all cases, yes. Few exceptions are made. Check with the directors if you have questions.

What is the 3-credit Glynn senior thesis course?

This optional course is designed for students who are not taking a 3-credit thesis course in their department and who would like to receive credit for their work on the thesis. Students may take it in one or both semesters their senior year. It is not required. 

What is the deadline for Glynn thesis?

April 12, 2024 

My department deadline is later. Can I submit my thesis later?

Yes, but you must check in with the assistant director or directors to notify them of your deadline. 

How do I format my thesis?

You should follow the formatting conventions of your home department or discipline. Consult your advisor for more information on disciplinary expectations. In the absence of specific instructions, use as a default the following: one inch margins, double-spaced, APA-formatted references. The title page should minimally include the title, your full name your advisor’s name, and a line for your advisor’s signature.

How do I submit my thesis?

When you are ready to submit, you should email your thesis to Kelly as a .pdf and also submit a bound paper copy. You can have your thesis bound at FedEx in LaFortune. Make sure to get your advisor’s signature on the title page of the paper copy.