The English department offers qualified majors the option of writing a senior essay. This is a one-semester project undertaken in the fall of the senior year, resulting in an essay of 30–35 pages. The senior essay counts as a 3-credit course, which can be applied toward the requirements for the major.

Each project will be assigned both an adviser and a second reader. In addition, students writing essays will meet as a group with the director of undergraduate studies once or twice in the course of the project.

The senior essay option is open to all students with a cumulative GPA of 3.6 or higher in English department courses at the end of the fall term of their junior year. Project descriptions (generally of one to two pages) and a preliminary bibliography should be submitted to a prospective adviser selected by the student from the core faculty. All proposals must be received at least two weeks prior to the beginning of registration period during the spring term of the junior year. Students should meet with the prospective adviser to discuss the project in general terms before submitting a formal proposal. The adviser will determine whether the proposed project is feasible and worthwhile. Individual faculty need not direct more than one approved senior essay per academic year. Acceptance of a proposal will therefore depend on faculty availability as well as on the strength of the proposal itself.

When completed, the senior essay will be judged and graded by the adviser in consultation with the second reader.

The senior essay is not part of the department’s honors program, which is based solely on a cumulative GPA of 3.6 in English department courses.