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Senior Thesis

The Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies encourages students to consider pursuing an undergraduate senior thesis under the direction of a faculty advisor/s. Our faculty advance the field through interdisciplinary research and innovative pedagogies, inspiring a new generation of gender and sexuality scholars and feminist leaders committed to social justice. The department strives to be a globally recognized model of excellence in gender, sexuality and feminist scholarship and the faculty are enthusiastic to work with undergrads on their innovative projects.

The thesis serves as one of two options for fulfilling a senior capstone experience for undergraduates by allowing students to generate interdisciplinary forms of knowledge about the complex interplay of power and difference, especially as inflected by categories such as gender, sexuality, race, class, age, ability, and nationality, across a vast array of contemporary and historical cultures. More details about the senior thesis (for both ASC Honors students and non-honors students) is outlined below. In addition to reading this information, interested students are encouraged to contact the WGSS Academic Advisor for assistance in thinking through potential thesis topics, locating potential faculty advisors, and identifying where a senior thesis project would fit into the WGSS major program plan, and completing the necessary thesis paperwork.

  1. Identify the scope and focus of your intended project. Oftentimes, an idea for a thesis emerges from a paper written as an assignment in an undergraduate course in the department. For example, what might begin as a 10-page paper with five references from course readings, may eventually evolve into a 50-page paper with twenty primary and secondary source references. This is just an example; feel free to discuss your creative ideas with a faculty member you think might be well suited to direct the thesis and/or the WGSS Academic Advisor.
  2. In tandem with deciding on a thesis topic, students should also seek a WGSS faculty member to serve as their thesis advisor. Remember that faculty are often more willing to direct the projects of students who have taken and performed well in courses they’ve taught. Faculty are also typically more willing to direct theses that compliment or overlap with their own areas of interest. Students are encouraged to read more about our faculty and their research interests. Feel free to seek the advice of the WGSS Academic Advisor if you need assistance identifying faculty who may direct a thesis project you’re considering.
  3. Once you and your faculty thesis advisor have identified your topic, you and the faculty member will need to complete the appropriate application for graduating with research distinction (links below are for students who are not members of ASC Honors and for those who are members of ASC Honors; please select the one that aligns with your position within the university). When you visit the corresponding webpages, be sure to note the deadlines for thesis applications. While the deadlines vary each term, the applications are due some time during the semester before the student intends to graduate. You’re strongly encouraged to submit the form before you begin any thesis coursework. The application documents will require accompanying program forms, which the WGSS Academic Advisor can supply you with.
  4. In general, students are encouraged to plan for thesis coursework to span one full academic year (e.g. Fall and Spring semesters) with 5193 “Independent Study” hours taken during the first semester and 4999/h “Research Distinction/ Honors” taken the second semester. In order to enroll in the coursework for the upcoming term, students must contact the WGSS academic advisor (CC’ing the faculty advisor) and include:
          a. the student's name
          b. specify if the request is for enrollment in either 5193 or 4999/h
          c. how many credit hours are desired.
    A minimum number of 4 credit hours of thesis coursework (4999/h and/or a combination of 5193 and 4999/h) is required in order to graduate with research distinction. Students who are members of Honors will be enrolled in WGSST 4999h; students who are not members of Honors will be enrolled in WGSST 4999. Enrollment requests must be emailed prior to the first day of a term. 
  5. All theses at Ohio State conclude with a 1-hour “defense” run by the faculty dissertation advisor and attended by at least one other faculty member. The second faculty member may be someone who has been involved formally or informally in the thesis—or they can be randomly assigned; this will depend on the specific student’s situation. Some students seek input from informal “co-advisors,” mentors, or scholars in the field, while others elect to work exclusively with their faculty advisor. Students who are members of ASC Honors will have a third faculty reader from another department also participate in the defense. The defense and accompanying paperwork must be completed and submitted to the appropriate office before 5:00pm EST on the last day of classes during the term of the student’s graduation. The final step for completing the thesis is formatting it and uploading it to Ohio State’s Knowledge Bank by the last day of final exams during the student’s graduation term. 


For students who ARE NOT members of ASC Honors

Information is provided on deadlines and options, ASC requirements, forms and details about the application process, example theses, and additional resources.

For Students who ARE members of ASC Honors

Information is provided on deadlines and options, ASC Honors requirements, registering for research credit hours (4999H), forms and details about the application process, example theses, and additional resources.