Writing a senior thesis is a challenging and rewarding experience. It is a chance to engage in depth with a topic that intrigues you and to produce a substantial piece of written work that reflects your intellectual and personal interests.
Students writing theses in EALC work closely with their faculty advisors to determine the
scope of their project and the materials and methodology most appropriate to their interests.
At present EALC offers majors only in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
There are two main options for an EALC thesis, analytical and translation. An analytical
thesis advances an original argument based on rigorous analysis of primary and secondary
sources. This type of thesis typically includes three or more chapters, as well as an
introduction and a conclusion, and ranges from 70 to 100 pages in length. EALC theses of
this type should involve at least some work with East Asian-language materials, though
some rely chiefly on works in translation or visual materials, or secondary scholarship.
Analytical theses should also make appropriate use of recent secondary scholarship on the
topic. EALC will also consider innovative proposals that draw on new approaches and/or
methodologies in the Humanities.
A translation thesis consists of a polished annotated translation into English of a substantial
work or set of works (typically a work of literature) in an East Asian language--a set of
stories, part of all or a novel, a selection of poems--accompanied by an introduction
(typically a minimum of 20 pages) giving a scholarly analysis of the translated work(s), a
discussion of particular issues that arise in the translation of the works, or both. The
combination of introduction and translation again typically ranges from 70 to 100 pages in
To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least
3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100 level; the department may petition on her
behalf if her GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. In addition to writing a thesis,
candidates for honors must take an oral exam on the topic of the thesis.
Thesis timeline (the dates below assume a spring graduation date; for students planning to
graduate in December dates will be adjusted accordingly):
Students planning to write a thesis should begin thinking about possible topics and consult
with the potential faculty advisor during the junior year. Ideally, you should submit a brief
proposal outlining the topics and materials you wish to explore to your potential faculty
advisor by the last day of classes during the spring semester of your junior year, though
proposals submitted up to a week before the end of the add period of the fall term of the
senior year will also be considered. The same timeline applies to students studying abroad
in the spring semester of their junior year. Your proposal will be considered by a committee
of EALC faculty members and you will be notified by the end of the exam period (or before
the add deadline if the proposal is submitted in the fall) whether it has been approved. You
should plan to consult with your faculty advisor before the end of the spring semester about
any thesis-related research or reading you may need to do over the summer.
Fall of senior year:
Students approved to write theses will be registered for CHIN 360, JPN 360, KOR 360 by
the department in the fall of the senior year. Much of the fall semester is typically devoted to
research and reading (for analytical theses) or reading and translating (for translation
theses). You should also meet with your advisor weekly (in both the fall and spring
semesters) to discuss your progress. Over the course of the fall semester you should turn in
the following to your advisor (exact due dates will be established in consultation with your
advisor based on the academic calendar for that year):
Last week of October: a detailed bibliography
Second week of November: 3-5 page prospectus
End of fall reading period: draft of chapter 1 or of first translation segment (length to be
determined in consultation with your advisor)
At the end of the fall semester, the EALC thesis committee will review the work submitted
during the fall semester and determine whether the student will be allowed to continue with
CHIN or JPN or KOR 370. Students may also choose at this point not to continue with the
thesis and will receive a grade for CHIN/JPN/KOR 360 based on the work done in the fall,
as will students not approved to take CHIN/JPN/KOR 370. Students who are approved to
continue with CHIN/JPN/KOR 370 (and who want to continue) will receive a grade of TBG
(“to be graded”) in CHIN/JPN/KOR 360.
Spring of senior year:
The precise schedule for the spring semester is determined by the nature and projected
length of your thesis. Students writing a three-chapter analytical thesis should plan to have
the second chapter done by the second or third week in February at the latest, and the third
chapter done by the end of March at the latest, leaving April for revisions and for writing the
introduction and conclusion. Students writing a translation thesis should typically have full
drafts of their translations done by March 15 to give ample time for polishing and revision
and for writing the introduction. You should also continue to meet with your advisor weekly.
By mid-April (date to be established by the registrar’s office each year), students must
submit to the registrar’s office a form, available (with a schedule indicating the due date)
through the registrar’s office at http://www.wellesley.edu/registrar/honors/thesis_process,
declaring who will make up their honors committee (honors advisor, honors visitor,
department chair or chair’s designee, and an additional member of the department). The
student should choose a tenured member of another department to serve as the honors
Theses are due college-wide on a date in mid- to late April established by the registrar’s
office. Students must submit theses electronically to the college; instructions and the exact
due date are again available at http://www.wellesley.edu/registrar/honors/thesis_process.
EALC will cover the cost of printing out copies of your thesis for your readers, but you are
responsible for getting the copies made and distributing them.
After the thesis has been submitted, candidates for honors must pass an oral exam on the
thesis given by the members of the thesis committee, to be scheduled during reading
Funding for Thesis Students:
The Department has limited funds to support travel and research for EALC Honors thesis
students. The student should write a letter to the current EALC Chair, with a brief
description of need along with a budget. Award of funds is by discretion of the Chair after
consultation with a faculty committee.