Thesis Advising


It is the student’s job to line up a primary thesis advisor before applications are due.  Ask the DUS for help if you need it.  All full-time faculty members in the department are supposed to advise senior theses, but we are not allowed to serve as primary advisor for more than three senior theses each year.  Students should ideally have taken at least one course with their advisor.

Primary advisors must be a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the American Studies department.   They should help advisees develop their thesis application junior year, and must meet with them regularly during the fall of senior year as they work on their projects in the Senior Thesis Capstone course.  They provide comments on the status of the project by the end of the fall grading period.  During spring semester primary advisors are the instructor of record for AMST 47910, Senior Thesis Writing, for each advisee.  They meet regularly with their advisees and provide regular feedback on their progress throughout the semester.  All thesis writers must turn in a completed and correctly formatted draft of their entire thesis on a common departmental deadline in mid- to late March.  Advisors will provide comments on this draft in a timely manner, as final drafts are due on a common departmental due date about two weeks later in early April.  Primary advisors provide a qualitative reader’s report (rather than a letter grade-see below) evaluating the final project and share it with their advisees.  They submit a letter grade for AMST 47910 based upon a) their own reader’s report and that from the student’s secondary advisor, and b) a more cumulative evaluation of the student’s quality of research, progress throughout the year, success with grants, and departmental presentation.  Primary advisors meet with each advisee before the end of spring semester to go over both advisors’ reader’s reports and the course grade, discuss plans for the future, and collect any feedback on the thesis process.

Secondary advisors can be faculty in AMST or in another college unit.  Students are encouraged to choose faculty, if not in AMST, who have Concurrent Faculty status in AMST (see dept website).  Students should formalize their relationship with their secondary advisors during the fall of their senior year.  Secondary advisors function as invested outside readers, and students should meet occasionally with them during the fall semester to get suggestions regarding sources, readings, and basic conceptualization of the project.  Secondary advisors should serve as sounding boards throughout the entire thesis process but are not expected to comment on written drafts.  They will evaluate the final draft, however, by providing a qualitative reader’s report to the advisee by mid to late April.  A copy of this report also goes to the student’s primary advisor.