The Senior Project is a semester-long, four-unit, intensive independent research and/or creative project that students work on under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Projects often, although not always, take on themes or questions with which students engage in their colloquium or rationale, and they attempt to make a new scholarly or artistic contribution to their fields. Examples of Senior Projects include a paper based on original research, a written assessment of a community-learning initiative, or an artistic project (such as design-based work, art exhibit, or theatrical production) accompanied by an analytic essay (comprising artistic background, aims, and technique). They may also take other forms, depending on the student’s interests and abilities.
Students who have had their rationale approved and have completed or scheduled their colloquium by the application deadline in their first semester of their senior year may apply to do a Senior Project in the second semester of their senior year. The crucial question the Senior Project Committee asks is whether it will be possible for the student to complete the proposed project to a high standard in a semester. Thus the proposal should show that the student is well prepared for the project and has considered the tight timeline for completing it. Students who complete the best senior projects, as judged by the committee, will receive Gallatin honors (which are distinct from Latin or University honors, which are based solely on class rank as determined by GPA).
Senior Projects are distinct from Independent Studies in their selection, expectations, and potential to earn Honors; students whose Senior Project proposals are unsuccessful may consider scaling back their projects and pursuing them as Independent Studies. All questions about the Senior Project should be directed to your Senior Class Adviser.
Students interested in undertaking a Senior Project should read all sections of the policy and procedures below before submitting a proposal:
Senior Projects are student-generated. Generally they are an opportunity to continue a sustained line of inquiry that the student has already begun. A Senior Project may grow out of a piece of work (a research paper, a creative writing piece, a CLI project, a stage production, an art exhibit, etc.) a student has done in a course, tutorial, or independent study. It may also derive from questions or ideas spurred by a student’s colloquium. Successful Senior Projects will involve significant preparation. As such students interested in pursuing a Senior Project are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisers early in their undergraduate program in order to plan for appropriate coursework and research well in advance. Indeed, students are strongly encouraged to consider undertaking an Independent Study in the semester prior to applying for a Senior Project, as a way to engage relevant secondary literature, formulate plausible research designs/creative processes, and generally lay the foundations for their potential Senior Projects.
Senior Projects may only be undertaken in the Fall or Spring semesters. Generally, students will complete Senior Projects in their final semester at Gallatin, following completion of their colloquia in their penultimate semester. Students planning to graduate in September should plan to complete Senior Projects in the preceding Spring semester.
Please note: Rationales are sent to second readers on the first of each month, and this process may take several weeks. The Senior Projects Committee strongly recommends that any students planning to propose a senior project submit their rationales for review before November 1 (if applying for a spring senior project) or April 1 (if applying for a fall senior project), in order to ensure that their rationales are approved and colloquia are scheduled prior to the review of senior project proposals.
The Senior Project is a four-unit course of study, requiring a minimum of seven contact hours between student and mentor during the course of the convening semester. The arrangement of contact hours will vary depending on the needs of the specific project and the student’s level of progress. Please remember that according to Gallatin policy, students may register for no more than eight units per semester in any combination of independent study, tutorial, and/or Senior Project.
While expectations for Senior Projects will differ depending on the nature of the work undertaken, certain minimum standards apply generally. In particular, all Senior Projects require a written component:
In general, research papers should be of substantial depth and length, and span approximately 40 pages. These papers should follow appropriate academic standards of documentation, argumentation, and analysis, as determined and developed in consultation with faculty mentors.
In general, artistic or design projects should be accompanied by essays of substantial depth and length – approximately 20 pages – that address the project’s background (locating students’ projects within a larger artistic or design context), artistic or design aims (articulating students’ goals in mounting a particular project, and explaining how the actual project met those goals), and technical issues (such as character development, stage design, storyline creation, directorial choices, etc), as determined and developed in consultation with faculty mentors.
Note: In some cases Senior Projects may require and in fact be designed as part of an ensemble or group (for instance a play where the Senior Project is stage direction, or an ensemble production where the Senior Project is a student’s individual performance, etc). However, all Senior Projects should be individually proposed and will be individually assessed by faculty mentors on their own merits.
Students arrange to execute their Senior Projects under the guidance of an NYU faculty member. In most cases, students are already acquainted with the faculty mentor who will be supervising the study. The faculty mentor should help the student clarify the Senior Project proposal to ensure that it includes all necessary components. In the semester that the Senior Project is undertaken, faculty mentors meet regularly with the student to discuss readings and progress, as well as provide feedback on the development of the final product. At the end of the term, faculty mentors submit anecdotal grade reports that briefly describe and provide a final evaluation of the student’s work to accompany the assignment of a letter grade. Please note that faculty mentors wishing to nominate the student work for honors designation should do so no later than one week before the last day of classes. Faculty members (both full-time and part-time) are limited to supervising no more than five independent studies and/or Senior Projects per Fall and Spring term.
Only complete proposals will be considered. A completed Senior Project proposal will include the following elements:
1. Project Description: The description should be approximately three double spaced pages and should (a) describe the project, its expected output, and its scholarly or artistic aim(s), and (b) explain how you expect to successfully complete the project. While you must address all the questions below, you need not do it in any particular order.
(A) State clearly the proposed research question or artistic aim(s) of the project. What is the contribution you hope to make? Describe your project’s relationship to your ongoing work or area of concentration. You must also clearly specify the expected output (e.g., a research paper, design project, or artistic project) and discuss the specific methods with which you will complete your project.
(B) It is especially crucial that your proposal explicitly explain your preparation to carry out your project. First, because a Senior Project is only one semester long, it is not the time for learning new skills, but for practicing, implementing, and honing the skills you already have. What skills and methods do you require to complete the project, and where did you acquire them? For instance, if your project is archival, explain how you developed your archival skills; if it requires a certain artistic technique, state where you learned it; if it involves statistical analysis, say where you learned your statistical methods. Second, beyond methods, skills, and techniques, what intellectual or theoretical background does the project require and how did you develop this background? Describe both in paragraph form and in the annotated bibliography below the intellectual context of your project and where and when you did this preparatory work. Show us what’s in the current scholarly literature or artistic field and what’s absent and place your proposed project in respect to those presence and absences. Third, your proposal should show how you intend to complete your project in a semester. With your faculty mentor, create a list of milestones you will need to pass in order to complete your project, and include that list in your proposal together with estimated dates for when you will hit each one.
2. Annotated Bibliography or Relevant Works: The bibliography should situate a student’s project within a body of work in their field. This should include 8-12 books, articles, key documents, films, plays, catalogs, etc. Please provide the full citation and a shortdescription of the relevance of each text or work to the proposed project.
Enrollment in a Senior Project requires the approval of the Gallatin School. Students should submit completed Senior Project proposals to Gallatin’s Office of Student Services where it will be reviewed by Gallatin’s Senior Project Committee according to the deadline below. Proposals will be reviewed with an eye toward selecting projects of exceptional promise. The committee will evaluate proposals based on the following criteria:
clarity of project goal(s), mode of inquiry, and final product
project’s relation to concentration and course of study
feasibility of the project within one semester through an articulated timeline
clear articulation of student/mentor relationship, including schedule of meetings
the degree to which the project would culminate in an original artistic or scholarly work
Upon approval, students will receive a permission number required for registration from the Office of Student Services. Students may then register for the Senior Project on Albert, or in person if Albert is not available. Please note that students are responsiblefor the registration process.
Decisions regarding Senior Project proposals cannot be appealed. Proposals not selected as a Senior Project can be submitted as a non-honors track Independent Study. The Committee strongly suggests this option for students who are passionate about completing their proposed projects.
Evaluation and Honors
Evaluation: Each Senior Project will be evaluated by the faculty mentor for its ability to meet project aims as delineated in the project proposal as well as the degree to which the final product exemplifies original interdisciplinary work. Successful completion of the Senior Project will be noted in two ways: the student will receive a letter grade awarded by the faculty mentor for the course titled “Senior Project,” and upon graduation a notation will appear on the transcript listing the title of the Senior Project. All Senior Projects will also receive written evaluations from faculty mentors, submitted to the Gallatin Office of Student Services.
Honors: To be considered for Honors, Senior Projects should be nominated in writing by faculty mentors to the Gallatin Senior Project Committee no later than one week before the last day of classes. Letters of nomination should provide a description of why the Senior Project merits Honors. Upon review of the Senior Project, the Gallatin Senior Project Committee will award Honors to projects deemed exceptional according to the selection criteria. The Honors designation will appear on students’ transcripts.
Note: To be considered for Honors, Senior Projects comprised of limited run engagements that cannot be fully submitted as text – such as exhibits, stage productions, recitals, etc – require the student and faculty mentor to coordinate with the Gallatin Senior Project Committee to have the Project assessed by Committee members at a mutually convenient time and place. We regret that we cannot consider anecdotal reports of such Projects in awarding Honors.
Proposals: Senior Project proposals and final papers/projects must be submitted according to the following firm schedule of submission deadlines:
Semester of Senior Project:
Senior Project proposal due:
To be considered for honors, project is due:
For non-honors grading, project is due:
Two weeks prior to the last day of Fall classes
The last day of Fall classes
Two weeks prior to the last day of Spring classes
The last day of Spring classes
*If this date is a Saturday or Sunday, proposals will be due the following Monday.