Senior Research Thesis

Students completing a senior research thesis develop the skills and knowledge required to meaningfully engage in academic research at the undergraduate level. Through completion of a senior thesis, you will:

  • Identify a topic of high interest to you and relevance to your chosen field,
  • Engage in a critical analysis of research findings on the selected topic,
  • Develop an awareness of research methods and basic statistics and their applications,
  • Engage in project planning and evaluation,
  • Work closely with a faculty member with expertise in your selected topic,
  • Develop your own expertise in your selected topic, and
  • Demonstrate professional skills highly desired in the workplace, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, evaluation, and oral and written communication.

When is the senior research thesis completed?
The senior research thesis is considered a capstone experience in your academic experience and is completed in the final two semesters of study.

How do I select a topic for my research?
The senior research thesis is an opportunity for you to develop expertise on a topic or issue of high interest to you and relevance to the profession field you would like to enter. Possible topics are almost limitless, but must reflect your area of concentration.

What is the process for completing a senior research thesis?

All students in Interdisciplinary Studies are required to successfully complete AIS 300 Foundations of Interdisciplinary Research and AIS 350 Critical Expression prior to beginning a senior research thesis. These courses teach the foundations of research and academic writing and prepare you for success in your own research project.

Your thesis will be completed over your last two semesters of study. Once all prerequisite courses have been completed, you can register for AIS 380 Research Methods and Project Development. In this course, you will select your topic of study, conduct a review of the research literature already published on your topic, select a research methodology, and develop a proposal describing your planned project.

What support and guidance will I have in developing and completing my thesis?
The prerequisite courses have been designed specifically to provide a strong foundation in undergraduate research and academic writing. Through these courses, you will have the opportunity to develop the skills necessary for the successful design and implementation of your senior research thesis. The courses you take in your three selected disciplines will provide the interdisciplinary base of knowledge in your concentration.

What is the role of the faculty advisor?
Once the project proposal has been developed in AIS 380, the student works with the course instructor to identify a faculty advisor for the senior research thesis. This faculty advisor can be any faculty member at USA who has expertise in the topic selected by the student. Every student completing a senior research thesis works closely with a faculty advisor in the development and implementation of her or his project. This advisor works closely with the student in the project design, research methodology, and writing. The collaborative relationship between the student and the faculty advisor provides the expertise and guidance necessary for the successful completion of the thesis.

When is my thesis completed?
The senior research thesis is designed as your capstone experience, serving as a way to demonstrate the knowledge and skills developed through your coursework. After the proposal is developed and a faculty advisor is identified in AIS 380, the student will implement the project in AIS 430 Senior Project Capstone II Experience. In this course, you will work closely with your faculty advisor in conducting and evaluation your research, as well as writing the thesis. This course is completed in your final semester of study.

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