How To Come Up With Great Senior Thesis Topic Ideas


A senior thesis is an extended, intensive research paper wherein you will have considerable choice of topic. The main goal of a senior thesis paper is to demonstrate that you can research a topic, synthesize the information, and create a cohesive paper with a logical progression and a clear thesis statement. It demonstrates your critical thinking skills, reasoning skills, research skills, and writing skills.


The first step to a great senior thesis is coming up with a good topic. Your topic should be something that you find genuinely interesting, and about which you can find plenty of solid, verifiable information to use in your paper. It should be neither too broad nor too narrow, and should provide enough substance to create a decidedly substantial paper. Here are some tips for coming up with great ideas for your senior paper.


  • Brainstorm for broad topic areas. Choosing a broad area of study is often the first step for your paper. It’s quite helpful to consider what you’re interested in. Let’s say, hypothetically, that you have free reign to write about literally anything you’d like. What subjects are you most interested in? Do you lean more toward math and the hard sciences, or more toward the humanities? Within the sciences, you can choose disciplines like biology, ecology, astronomy, physics, or chemistry. The humanities are also a rich source of broad topic areas, like music theory, cultural studies, gender studies, art history, and literary analysis. Figure out what you want to write about.

  • Take a broad topic and narrow it down. Once you have a broad, general idea in mind, you need to narrow it down into a suitable paper. For example, let’s say you want to write about 19th century painting. There are a number of different styles that occurred during that time period, which differed markedly from one another. There were pre-raphaelites, realists, impressionists, post-impressionists, symbolists, and many more artists who painted in different styles during that time. You could narrow it down, for example, to contrasting impressionist artwork with contemporary “salon art,” which adhered more closely to established artistic conventions, but is widely regarded as having been less innovative in its style and subject matter.

  • Start doing some preliminary research. Once you’ve selected a suitably narrow topic, you’ll want to start researching it as soon as possible. It’s surprisingly easy to accidentally choose a topic that’s fascinating, but about which you can’t find a whole lot of information. If you can’t find enough information to work with, it can be incredibly difficult to write a paper that meets the requirements for word count and involves enough depth. If your original topic is looking sparse, you can always choose something else instead. However, this is much easier to do if you start ahead of time than if you wait until the last minute.