During the senior year, each student writes a thesis. The senior thesis is expected to make an original (or otherwise distinctive) contribution to broader knowledge in the field in which the student is working.

It is important that the thesis be situated explicitly in relation to existing published literature. The senior thesis must be judged satisfactory by two members of the faculty, at least one of whom must be a member of the Department of Politics. 

It is common, but by no means required, for junior paper topics, especially in the spring term, to serve as starting points for a senior thesis topic. The Department encourages students to use the summer between junior and senior year for work on the senior thesis.

The length of a senior thesis is generally about 100 double-spaced pages and rarely under 80 pages. No thesis should be longer than 125 pages, including appendices. (This limit does not include the ancillary pages for the title, dedication, table of contents, abstract, bibliography and honor code statement.) Any pages after 125 may or may not be read by the second reader. A thesis longer than 125 pages will not be considered for Politics thesis prizes.

Also, seniors are required to prepare and present a professional poster describing their senior thesis results.