Getting ready

Former Dean of the Faculty Martha Crunkleton once said of the senior thesis:

“Some Bates Trustees told me recently that they thought the qualities of persistence, independence, and autonomy of judgment are the real qualities of mind that a student develops while writing a senior thesis, and that those are the qualities they look for in future employees. They don’t want someone who’s going to come to them every five minutes and ask, ‘What do I do now?'”

The senior thesis is an opportunity for a student to pursue a topic in great depth, perhaps to learn more about it than anybody else on campus, and be a kind of expert. They have to do that as an independent scholar; they must identify resources, identify the problems they’re trying to solve or address, and then do the work. And it’s very lonely, it’s very intense; it involves the struggles of personal discipline and scheduling. It can also involve a tremendous satisfaction, of seeing what one has been able to do over that year. I think those are central intellectual experiences for our students. (“An Interview with Martha Crunkleton, Dean of the Faculty,” Bates: The Alumni Magazine, Spring 1992, p. 10)

Repeated surveys of senior economics majors and alums verify the importance of the senior thesis. Virtually everyone felt that the senior thesis was one of the more valuable parts of his or her Bates education. Indeed, many felt the thesis was an exhilarating capstone to their four years here, one that allowed them to meld both theoretical and empirical work into a finished product, a product that was theirs and not the advisor’s.

To help you prepare for your senior thesis, most 300-level economics courses require a 12- to 20-page research paper, or some other substantial writing assignment. Not only will you build experience in writing, but one of these economics papers could serve as the beginning of your senior thesis research.

The Economics Writing Guide is intended to help you with all aspects of your writing in economics. Good luck!