BA Thesis

BA Major Thesis Overview

The BA thesis in the Program in Creative Writing is required of all Creative Writing majors. Typically in the form of a collection of stories, poems, essays, or a novel excerpt, the BA thesis is a significant, polished original creative work that is the culmination of your study at the University of Chicago and an opportunity to deepen your understanding of writing craft. Over the course of four quarters, and in consultation with a Faculty Advisor and Writing and Research Advisor (WARA), students produce work informed by aesthetic, literary, and critical influences, as well as course work, sustained readings, and research.

In the Spring Quarter of their third year, students will be assigned a Writing and Research Advisor who will mentor student reading and research into and through their fourth year. WARAs guide students on their summer writing and research plans, work which in turn informs the structure of a fourth year major's Autumn Quarter. The concrete assignments for this timeline include the preliminary project proposal, the summer reading journal centered on a field list of readings, which will then be adapted into an annotated bibliography; a focus reading list, and a precis/project plan that summarizes the student’s research and writing plan and goals for the thesis.

Students will apply for a Thesis/Major Projects Workshop in the Autumn Quarter. Once class rosters are finalized, students will be assigned their Faculty Advisors. The majority of thesis writing will occur in Winter Quarter under the guidance of Faculty Advisors and Writing and Research Advisors. Student will utilize the Spring Quarter of their fourth year to edit, revise, and complete their BA thesis/project per Program guidelines.

The following timeline is an overview of the BA Thesis process by academic quarter.

BA Major Thesis/Project Timeline

AUTUMN QUARTER – Fourth-year students

  • Week Zero: Individual WARA and student check-ins regarding summer reading and research
    • At this meeting students turn in their tentative “field” lists of 8-15 texts based on summer reading and include reading journal entries for the items on the list
  • Week One or Two: WARA group meetings
  • Week Five: Required Info Session for BA Thesis Writers
  • Week 7: Deadline to apply to the Thesis/Major Projects Workshop
  • Week 8: Deadline to submit draft annotated bibliography (composed of your field and focus reading lists) to WARAs
  • Week 10, Friday, December 4: Submit completed precis project plan to the guidance of your WARA


WINTER QUARTER – Fourth-year students

  • Weeks One through Ten: Students work on projects in Thesis/Major Projects workshops and continue supported reading, research with WARA groups
  • Week Ten: Students submit first complete draft of thesis to Faculty Advisor and WARAs


SPRING QUARTER - Fourth-year students

  • Week Two: Submit a second full (semi-final) draft of thesis to WARA and Faculty Adivsor
  • Week Five: Submit final draft of thesis to faculty advisers, WARA, and the Student Affairs Administrator (  
  • TBD: Virtual BA Reading & Reception to celebrate your work!
    • Family & friends welcome
  • Weeks Nine through Ten: Students notified about Honors decisions


*Beginning AY21-22

SPRING QUARTER – Third-year students

  • Week Two: Third year majors group meeting with WARAs to discuss the BA proposal and general strategies for drawing up a summer reading list
  • Week Seven: Preliminary BA proposals are due to the Student Affairs Administrator 
  • Week Eight through Ten: Students will be informed of their WARA groups; during this time students will also individually meet with their WARAs to discuss their summer reading and research plans

Honors and Eligibility

To be eligible for honors, students must 

- Have a GPA of at least 3.6 in the major and a cumulative GPA of 3.25

- Complete a thesis that is recommended for honors by a committee of faculty and Writing and Research Advisors

Assignment Checklist

-Preliminary Project Proposal

-Summer Reading Journal (based on field reading list)

-Annotated Bibliography

-Focus Reading List

-Precis Project Plan