October 16, 1991

To:Members of the Faculty

From:The Educational Policy Committee

Re:Theses for double majors

In response to questions, suggestions, and requests from various departments and programs, the Educational Policy Committee endorses the following thesis option for students with a double major:

For a double major, the traditional option is to complete two separate one- or two-semester theses, if required, one for each of the majors. It may be appropriate and desirable for such a student to meet the thesis requirements of both majors by completing a single, two-semester thesis that is interdisciplinary in nature, i.e., integrates the two disciplines involved in the double major. This option could have the heuristically valuable effect of encouraging a student to integrate two areas of interest, thereby overcoming the potentially artificial separation implied by two majors and theses. The choice to complete such a single thesis would appropriately be the student's, subject to approval by the departments or programs involved.

This endorsement of a single, two-semester interdisciplinary thesis option seems to be well within the current college and departmental/program guidelines, and does not represent new policy or require new legislation. We note that the completion of such a single, two-semester thesis will require at least as much work as the current minimally acceptable requirement of completing two one-semester theses, i.e., a student choosing this option does not reduce the already established requirements. To insure that a student cannot reduce that current reguirement, a single, interdisciplinary one-semester thesis to meet the requirements of both departments/programs would not be acceptable. Note also that this combined thesis will receive no more than two semesters of course credit toward graduation.

Important details such as whether there would be one or more advisors, who would insure that the thesis is interdisciplinary and representative of both majors, who would do the grading, etc., are appropriately left to the departments and programs.

This option enables a student with a double major to complete a single interdisciplinary Honors thesis to meet the requirements of both majors. The makeup of the honors panel for that thesis will be determined by the Honors Study Committee, presumably in consultation with the departments or programs involved.