Senior Thesis

Students wishing to pursue the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality (SWGS) Thesis Program will complete a senior thesis under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Students wishing to undertake a senior thesis should confirm their eligibility with the SWGS Director of Undergraduate Studies (major advisor) in the spring of their junior year. Requirements for admission to the program are:

  • a major in SWGS
  • a cumulative Rice G.P.A. at the end of the junior year of at least 3.0
  • a SWGS program G.P.A. of at least 3.5

Every eligible student should seriously consider applying, but we especially encourage students to write a thesis who intend to pursue graduate work in an academic discipline, or those whose intended careers will demand skills in extensive research and writing.

General Expectations

Students are expected to undertake a substantial project on a topic of their own choosing through the two semesters of their senior year at Rice. The thesis should be grounded in the student’s original scholarly or creative work, and must demonstrate an informed engagement with feminist, gender, and/or sexuality studies.


The process of preparing the SWGS thesis begins in the spring of the junior year, when the student works with the SWGS Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) and chooses an additional advisor from the SWGS faculty. With guidance from those two advisors, the student produces a proposal for a thesis project. The proposal must be approved by the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality DUS by the last day of the exam period in the spring of the junior year.

SWGS theses are frequently interdisciplinary. Students wishing to undertake a thesis combining SWGS with another discipline in a substantive way should select one primary inter/discipline (eg. SWGS, ANTH, ECON, HIST, etc.) for their thesis “home” and work with an advisor in each discipline to create a hybrid thesis in terms of content, methods, and theoretical orientations. The thesis may receive academic credit in only one home inter/discipline.

In the fall of the senior year, students enroll in SWGS 498 for directed research supervised by a CSWGS faculty affiliate and consult regularly with their advisors. It is often useful for students and advisors to write up and co-sign a project timeline that includes deadlines for various components of the work. (See below for a sample timeline.)

In the spring of the senior year, students enroll in SWGS 499 and work closely with their advisors as they complete the thesis. Thesis students present their projects in a public event at the end of the semester.

The length of the thesis is to be coordinated with the student’s faculty advisor, and might vary according to discipline, but senior theses are often 40-50 double-spaced pages long.


The specific schedule for research and writing will be unique to the individual thesis project and will be developed in consultation with the student’s thesis advisor, but it should include meetings at least once every other week to review progress. The following is a sample timeline, which may be revised according to the specific needs of each project.

Junior Year

• Contact faculty early in the spring semester to discuss possible projects and confirm a faculty supervisor.

• Register for SWGS 498 for fall semester senior year.

• Prepare a project proposal of 1 to 2 pages for approval by the end of the exam period.

NOTE: Projects that include human subjects research should include a plan for IRB submission in the proposal.

Senior Year

Fall semester

o Week 3: preliminary bibliography or review of relevant sources completed.

o Week 7: full working bibliography or background research completed.

o Week 14: tentative outline of the thesis, including chapter or section divisions, completed.

Spring semester

o Week 3: draft of introduction completed.

o Week 10: first draft completed and submitted to advisor.

o Week 13: final draft completed and submitted to CSWGS.

o Week 14: thesis presentation.

Public Presentation

At the end of the second semester of their Senior year, students will present their thesis to their faculty advisors and a public audience. Presenters may invite anyone else they wish to attend the presentation. The 20-minute presentations should summarize the thesis in a clearly understandable way for a non-specialist audience and should also include a visual component (i.e., a poster or PowerPoint presentation). Presentations should be polished, well-rehearsed, and professional. The presentation will be followed by a question and answer period during which the student will defend the arguments, original contributions, and / or approach of the thesis.

Honors/Distinction Process

Completion of a thesis does not guarantee graduation with University Honors, which can be granted only by the Committee on Examinations and Standing.

Please see the Center’s policy for Distinction.

Please consult the following website for additional information on Distinction in Research and Creative Work:

Previous Theses

The theses written in the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality range across a number of topics, and reflect critical engagements with social structures and categories of class, race, sexuality, gender, age, and faith.  Copies are archived in the CSWGS offices.