Writing a senior thesis is an excellent way to engage in sustained and detailed research about complex issues in philosophy. The senior thesis runs over two semesters and two courses (PHIL 498 and PHIL 499). Students are involved in individual research under the guidance and supervision of a senior faculty member, who is a well-known expert in the student’s area of interest.
Qualified majors apply before their senior year for directed research and writing, which leads to the senior thesis. The thesis itself is carried out during both semesters of the senior year. Each semester will require three credit hours; these six credit hours in total are in addition to the course hours required for the major.
To qualify for the program students are required to have an approved research proposal and the agreement of a faculty member to serve as advisor for their project. Students will normally have a GPA of 3.75 or better in philosophy courses and they must have completed at least two upper level courses in the broader area of the proposed research topic. Applications should be submitted to the Director for Undergraduate Studies.
Students who are considering a senior thesis should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies and any potential faculty advisors as early as possible. Normally students will apply before pre-registration in the second semester of their junior year and will spend time during the summer reading from a list of primary and secondary literature they have developed with their advisor.
A senior thesis is normally between 7,500 and 15,000 words (approximately 30-60 pages) in length. Students will enroll in PHIL 498 and 499. Students accepted into the Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program should enroll in HONS 470 and 471 and will be awarded departmental honors for their work in that program if they meet the requirements in this statement. Note that acceptance into the departmental honors program is a separate process from acceptance into the Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program, as is the evaluation for departmental honors.
To be considered for honors in the spring semester, the senior thesis must be completed by April 1; to be considered for honors in the fall semester, the senior thesis must be completed by November 10. The thesis will be read and evaluated by the advisor and a second reader chosen by the department, and the final decision on honors will be made by the entire faculty.
A student will receive honors if they receive a grade of A or A- in PHIL 499 in the spring semester if graduating in May, or in PHIL 498 if graduating in December. Completion of the major with at least a 3.5 GPA in all philosophy courses is required for departmental honors.