Senior Thesis (RCAH 491)

NOTE: The process outlined below is a NEW process that RCAH is piloting for Academic Year 2023-24. This pilot process is meant to mentor students in designing an RCAH capstone experience most appropriate for their RCAH degree and goals.

Students interested in completing a semester-long research project as their RCAH capstone experience may apply for permission to enroll in RCAH 491 (Senior Thesis) and complete a senior thesis. Permission will be granted to a limited number of students based on applications that propose well-conceived, carefully thought-through projects founded on the student’s classwork and experiences in RCAH.

Students may not use the Senior Thesis as an Honors College experience.



Students wishing to be considered as a candidate for completing a senior thesis should complete the following steps in the spring semester of their third (junior) year:

  1. Enroll in a senior seminar (RCAH 492).
  2. Submit a typed, completed RCAH Senior Thesis Application to the Dean’s Office by April 7, 2023. Please email the typed, completed form to Associate Dean Terese Monberg ( by April 7, 2023.
  3. Wait to be notified about their eligibility to submit a senior thesis proposal. Students will be notified of their eligibility to submit a full proposal by April 14, 2023.
  4. Students notified as being eligible to submit a full proposal must then:
    1. Attend a senior thesis proposal workshop or mentoring session. The format, date, and time of this session will be determined after April 14, 2023. 
    2. Submit a full senior thesis proposal to the Dean’s Office no later than May 10, 2023. The full senior thesis proposal should include:
      1. A 750-word Proposal. Proposals should follow the conventions of a research proposal that demonstrates how the project is grounded in research-based discussions taken up by other scholars, artists, or community organizers. The best proposals will make an argument for the project’s need by outlining how the project contributes to these larger research-informed discussions.

        A strong proposal will also include a coherent research question, discussion of why it is significant or of interest, and a clear description of how you will approach answering it. For creative works, a strong proposal will include a clearly framed creative problem, why it is significant or of interest, the means you will use to engage it, and why these means are suitable or what they contribute to your endeavor.

      2. A Working Bibliography with a minimum ten references.
      3. A 250-word "professional narrative" or "bio-sketch" that explains how this project, as a capstone project, relates to and builds on previous work you have completed in the RCAH and at MSU.
  1. Students whose full proposals are approved will be notified and permitted to enroll in RCAH 491 (Senior Thesis) no later than the end of May 2023. Students should also review the “Completion of RCAH 491 (Senior Thesis)” outlined below.

Completion of RCAH 491 (Senior Thesis) requires the following:

  1. A public presentation of the completed work, for example: through UURAF, a local/regional conference, community partners, or an RCAH colloquium.
  2. Permanent documentation of the project submitted to the RCAH (submit to Pam Newsted). If the thesis is a written document, submission of that document is sufficient. If the project includes an exhibit or performance, then the student and faculty advisor will agree on an appropriate format for submission.
  3. Assignment of a passing grade by the faculty advisor.
  4. Students may not use the Senior Thesis as an Honors College experience.