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Major in East Studies Essay/Honors Thesis Guidelines


The Capstone Essay/Honors Thesis is the crowning achievement of the EALC degree. EALC majors take the analytic and language skills that they acquired over four years as EALC majors and apply these skills to materials of their choice and a problem of their interest under the guidance of their chosen faculty mentor. The projects are either 7500 words in length (Capstone) or 15,000 words in length (Honors Thesis). Students wishing to complete an Honors Thesis must receive approval prior to the start of their research; this can be done with the SSO, according to the guidelines spelled out in the Bulletin. Such students are encouraged to apply for the Bing Honors College in the summer before senior year.

Planning for the capstone begins informally during the junior year. In the spring quarter, juniors are invited to one-on-one meetings with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) to discuss Capstone/Honors Thesis planning. Topics covered in these meetings include: 1. How to choose your mentor; 2. Possible topics of interest; 3. Setting up for Summer Success. Students wishing to write an honors thesis submit an application consisting of a one-page proposal and bibliography, approved by their honors thesis advisor, to DUS by the middle of the spring quarter of their junior year. In the fall quarter of the senior year, all seniors are encouraged to enroll in EALC 198C or EALC 198H with their advisors and start meeting with them. In the winter quarter of the senior year, all students enroll in EALC 198, at the end of which they produce a robust proposal and bibliography. During the spring quarter of the senior year, students enroll either in EALC 198C (capstone) or EALC 198H (honors) with their faculty advisor to finish their projects and to prepare for the final presentation. The polished version of their thesis is due in mid-May and presentations are attended by faculty, students, family and friends in the last week of classes.


Spring Q, Junior YearMeet with DUS; discuss advisor, topic, summer strategies
Fall Q, Senior YearEnroll in EALC 198H (honors thesis) or EALC 198C (optional); meet with DUS
Winter Q, Senior YearEnroll in EALC 198
Spring Q, Senior YearEALC 198C or 198H with advisor; complete project, submit, prep presentation

Faculty Advisors

The point of contact for capstone/honors thesis is the student’s faculty advisor. Students choose faculty advisors whose classes they have taken successfully and whose interests align with students’ topics. Students are responsible for meeting with their advisors regularly and for receiving feedback on their work in progress. The DUS maintains regular contact with faculty advisors to make sure students are making sufficient progress, and provides faculty with a rubric for assessment.

Staying on Track

Writing is hard work. There are many distractions and obstacles to completing writing projects, particularly during students’ final year at Stanford. The DUS supports student writing by 1. setting up accountability partnerships in the winter and continuing these partnerships through the spring; and 2. setting up writing clinics throughout the winter and spring quarters. Students are given early deadlines to make sure the bulk of the writing is not left to the last minute.

Capstone Essay/Honors Thesis Learning Goals

  • Demonstrate effective and nuanced interpretive skills in choosing and rationalizing the choice of primary and secondary source materials. 
  • Demonstrate a grasp of the appropriate methodology for their project and skillful application of this methodology to research.
  • Demonstrate growth in analytical writing and close reading skills, and mature response to critique over the course of revisions. 
  • Demonstrate the ability to engage in intellectual debate and productive discussions, as well as to effectively present the research material to diverse audiences.

Examples of EALC Major Projects: LINK