Shimer College

Senior Thesis in Liberal Arts

The Senior Thesis, an in-depth inquiry into a question or topic of the student’s choice, represents the culmination of the student’s academic experience at Shimer. 

The Thesis is the ideal opportunity for the Shimer student to work closely with a member of the faculty. It is guided by a member of the faculty chosen by the student, with another faculty member serving as second reader.

The Thesis is undertaken and completed over the course of the student’s senior year. It can take various forms. Most students choose to write analytical or expository essays, but others compose fiction or poetry, create performance pieces, or fashion works of visual art. In all cases, the Thesis gives students the opportunity to pursue and refine the intellectual interests they have developed at Shimer.

The Senior Thesis offers students the opportunity to demonstrate a number of the qualities cultivated at Shimer College, including the following:

  • Academic Achievement: Students demonstrate their interest in and excitement about a particular topic by selecting it for investigation. The process of researching and completing the Thesis hones their ability to conduct research, to analyze and synthesize information, and to communicate effectively about what they have learned.
  • Personal Accomplishment: While most first-year Shimer students wonder how they will ever be able to complete a Senior Thesis, those who reach their final year are well prepared to do so. Shimer students typically increase their self-confidence enormously by the time they reach their senior year. The sense of accomplishment that accompanies the completion of the Thesis underscores this.
  • Communication Skills: The process of completing the Senior Thesis demands and nurtures a variety of communications skills. The student gets the opportunity to work closely with a member of the faculty, and also to share the progress of her or his work with fellow seniors.
  • Graduate and Professional School Preparation: Few U.S. colleges and universities require a Senior Thesis. A Thesis helps Shimer students stand out when applying to graduate and professional schools. Not only does it show that the student has the tools required to complete successfully a Master’s thesis, but it also demonstrates high-level academic skills and indicates that the student has the focus and determination to be a successful graduate student.
  • Career Preparation: Any student who completes a Senior Thesis at Shimer College shows that he or she is capable of completing a demanding and time-consuming assignment. It further demonstrates that the student is able to work independently at a high level of intellectual and personal competence.

In short, the Senior Thesis provides many benefits to the Shimer student. The student who completes successfully such a Thesis is prepared for a variety of challenges and opportunities upon graduating from Shimer.