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Undergraduate Research: Independent Studies & Theses/Creative Projects

The Department of English encourages all undergraduates to participate in research and/or creative projects during their time at The Ohio State University. To learn more about how one conducts research in English, please see this webpage.

Research opportunities in the English department include independent studies and thesis projects.

Undergraduates who want to explore topics not already covered in one of the department's upper-division English courses may pursue an independent study with a faculty member. Students participating in an independent study are registered for English 5193, which may be taken for one to three credit hours and which is graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U).

Students interested in conducting an independent study should follow these steps:

  • Identify a faculty member in the English department who is willing to direct the independent study.
    • Tip: Faculty members are more likely to consider directing an independent study if the proposed topic overlaps with their own areas of interest and if the student has taken one or more courses from them and performed well. Please also be aware that faculty members may be unavailable to direct independent studies for a wide variety of professional and personal reasons.
  • Once a faculty member has agreed to direct an independent study, the faculty member should email the English department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies Beth Hewitt (.33) and Undergraduate Studies Program Manager Elizabeth Falter (.44) with the following:
    • A description of the independent study including required reading and writing assignments
    • The number of credit hours (up to three) the faculty member feels is justified by the proposed content and assignments.
    • Please note: Independent studies that propose to cover material already available to students through traditional upper-level courses and/or propose to prepare personal statements for graduate school will not be approved.
  • Once approved, the student's Academic Advisor will enroll the student in the appropriate credit hours of English 5193.

If you have questions about independent studies, please get in touch with your advisor.

A senior thesis acts as a capstone experience for undergraduates: it allows them to explore issues of personal, scholarly, cultural, historical and/or creative importance; to solve complex problems using the skills they have gained throughout their undergraduate careers; and to produce new knowledge that reflects their unique perspectives, talents and abilities.

Our undergraduates compose theses on a seemingly endless array of topics, in a seemingly endless array of forms under the direction of a faculty advisor(s). Students undertake projects such as

  • Writing a scholarly research paper
  • Producing a novel, a set of short stories or a collection of poems
  • Analyzing narratives and/or other qualitative data collected from a particular cultural or regional community
  • Directing a play
  • Creating a digital media artifact

Requirements and Timeline

Ideally, students begin the thesis process in the term before their final year. You must submit a thesis application at least one term prior to your graduation term, and you must complete at least four credits of thesis coursework (English 4999/4999H).

Theses that take the form of scholarly essays typically run from 40 to 60 pages in length, while a creative thesis might involve the development of a 200-page novel or a collection of 15 poems. Exact length requirements—and requirements for other types of projects—are determined by your thesis advisor.

You must defend your thesis in a one-hour defense with your faculty advisor and another English department faculty member (Honors students must also have a third faculty member from outside the department).

Students who complete a thesis graduate “with research distinction” or, for members of the Arts & Sciences Honors Program, “with honors research distinction.”

For more in-depth information on theses—including how to apply, timelines and the steps for completing a thesis—please see this webpage.