Senior thesis guidelines

Timetable and length

Columbia Slavic majors are not required to write a senior thesis, but may do so if they have a research interest they would like to pursue in this format.  All Barnard students are required to write a senior thesis.

A Barnard or Columbia Slavic major who is writing a senior thesis will usually begin serious work on his or her project in the Senior Seminar, taken in the fall semester of the senior year. Some students may have undertaken preliminary research in the preceding summer, either independently or with the assistance of a Harriman Institute undergraduate fellowship. The instructor of the Senior Seminar will set deadlines for the preliminary stages of the project (proposal, research bibliography, etc.) and will assist in identifying a suitable thesis adviser to take over the supervision of the project.  (The thesis adviser will assign the final grade for the thesis.)

Students have the option of completing the thesis in the fall semester, or registering for UN3998, Supervised Individual Research, in the spring and continuing to work on the thesis for a second semester. (Note: All Barnard students majoring in Russian Regional Studies must write a two-semester thesis.)

Thesis lengths vary according to the nature of the topic and the quantity of writing the adviser considers necessary in order to address it adequately. However, a good rule of thumb is that a one-semester thesis should fill about 25 pages, a two-semester thesis about 50. Longer theses are common, shorter ones rare.

Style guide for the final copy


The format should conform to the following specifications.

  • The copy should be typed (12-point font, double-spaced) on letter size (8.5"x11") paper.
  • Margins should be 1.5 inches on the left, and 1 inch on right, top, and bottom.
  • You may use either footnotes or endnotes; these should be single spaced, with a double space after each note to separate it from the following one. Footnotes should be in smaller type than the main text (recommended: 10 pt.). Endnotes should be in 12-point font.
  • All pages should be numbered. Preliminary matter (dedication, table of contents, acknowledgments, note on transliteration) should be numbered with lower-case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, etc.), which should be centered at the bottom of the page. The body of the thesis (everything else, beginning with the first page of the introduction and continuing to the last page of the bibliography) should use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.), which should appear in the upper right-hand corner of each page.
  • You must include a title page, a table of contents, and a bibliography.
  • Optional elements (often included by seniors but not required) include a dedication, acknowledgments, note on transliteration (strongly recommended), chapter titles and subdivisions, a list of illustrations, preface, and appendices. If you decide to include any of these elements, follow the order set out in the section on "Required Order and Page Numbering" on the following web page:

Title page

The title page should conform to the following model:








A senior thesis presented


[Full name of author]


The Department of Slavic Languages


in partial fulfillment of the

requirements for the major in [name of major]

[name of your school within Columbia]

[month, year of submission of thesis]




Copies and binding:



You must submit one copy of your thesis to your adviser (or one copy to each designated reader, if you are a double major with a combined senior project). The copies, if more than one, should be bound separately. We recommend velo binding with a clear vinyl cover available at most of the copy stores near or on campus. The author’s name and the title of the thesis should be visible on the front of each bound thesis. Don't forget to get a copy made for yourself, as the copy you submit to the Department will not be returned to you!