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Senior Capstone Experience

Senior Capstone Experience

Humanities Advisory Board: Nicole Grewling, Clayton Black, and Katherine Charles

The Senior Capstone Experience in Humanities is an opportunity for Humanities majors to bring their interpretive abilities, their writing skills, and their understanding of cultural traditions to bear on a long-term, independent project in the form of a thesis.

There are three important elements regarding the development of a successful SCE. The first is a clearly articulated thesis proposal, the second is the development of an annotated bibliography, and the third is a completed thesis of at least twenty-five pages.

Guidelines for Thesis Proposals

The thesis proposal should be approximately 2 pages long (though it may be longer.) The proposal must detail the project carefully. It must include a description of the scope and range of the projected thesis, an explanation of the problem or problems to be investigated, and a description of what strategies will be used in the investigation. The proposal must also include a clearly articulated thesis statement. An essay written in a particular course can serve as the foundation for further development into a thesis. In beginning a thesis a student must show initiative by conducting preliminary research to develop an appropriate topic.

It must include the following specific elements:

  1. A description of the proposed project (what the argument will be).
  2. A description of what has already been done. (This should include a list of relevant coursework and other preparation. It should also indicate if the thesis is an expansion of a paper from a class.)
  3. A description of critical or theoretical problems the thesis will investigate and the questions to be explored.
  4. A chapter outline with brief details about what each chapter will cover. For example, an introduction to the problem, chapter descriptions (this number will vary), and a conclusion would be appropriate.

The Process

During the period of proposal formulation, a student should work in close contact with members of the Humanities faculty. The Humanities Program advises each student to begin consulting with humanities faculty during their junior year.

  • A student should contact two faculty members who represent the fields in which the student proposes to work to ask if those faculty members would be willing to serve as his or her thesis adviser.
  •  After the student and advisers have agreed on a topic and approach, the student must complete a written proposal.
  •  Once completed, and approved by the individual faculty members who have agreed to direct the thesis, the proposal must be sent electronically to Professor Richard Gillin, who will bring it to the Humanities Advisory Board for its consideration.  Proposals are due on the first Monday following Labor Day. Before the end of the semester prior to the semester when the completed thesis is to be submitted, an annotated bibliography for the thesis must be completed and submitted to advisors. 


In the final semester of a student’s undergraduate career, when the student is completing the thesis, he or she should register for HMN SCE for academic credit. The thesis itself should be at least 25 pages, with an annotated bibliography of appropriate length. Theses are to be turned in electronically. The digitized theses will be made available to the college community via the library catalog. Upon completion, members of the Humanities Advisory Board in consultation with the advisers will evaluate each thesis.

The completed thesis should demonstrate the student’s ability to interpret texts and support the interpretation with secondary critical sources. The student must draw on at least two humanities disciplines for the thesis, which means that at least two professors from those disciplines must approve the thesis project and be willing to serve as advisers to the thesis.