All students must write a BA thesis in their fourth year. The process runs from Autumn through early Spring Quarter.

The senior seminar is required, and the seminar course is designed to guide BA theses to successful completion. The senior seminar includes the BA Seminar: Public Policy I (PBPL 29800). Students must register for PBPL 29800 seminar during Autumn 2020. This course is for-credit and grades are submitted in Spring upon completion of the BA process. Double majors are allowed to opt out of the seminar during autumn and/or winter. Students on extended status in Autumn can opt out during that quarter and enroll in Winter. Opt out petitions should be submitted to the Public Policy Administrator for review.

 

On this page:

BA Thesis Process, 2020-2021

Autumn 2020

Enroll in PBPL 29800 (for credit), the required BA Seminar class, with preceptor. Sections have 12-15 students, meet 1h 20m per week to develop question, approach, and gather data.

Notes:

  • Double majors and students on extended status can opt out of their Autumn BA seminar registration with a waiver (will be paired with PBPL preceptor)
  • Consider recruiting a Second Reader from UChicago faculty for the PBPL BA thesis as additional support
    • Other experts approved as Second Reader on case by case basis
    • A second reader is not required for special honors, but can improve your feedback

Important Deadlines 

TBD (around mid-Nov 2020): IRB forms submitted (if going through IRB approval—see other handout)

TBD (around mid-Dec 2020): BA Thesis Prospectus due including initial data (about 20-25 pages) 

Dean's Fund: The Dean’s Fund provides students in the College with one-time funding for Student Life, Public Service or Undergraduate Research projects. Grant amounts range from $750–$1,500. Quarterly deadlines are typically in the last few weeks of each quarter.

Winter 2021

Continue to meet with preceptor for 1h 20 min each week in workshop and/or writing group format. Students on extended status must let the Public Policy Administrator know about their change of status and must coordinate with their preceptors to continue work on their papers. Registration in Winter is not required (except for returning students after Autumn extended status or other special circumstances).

Important Deadlines

TBD (beginning of Feb 2021): Annual Senior BA Symposium

  • This is a required academic conference (10 min. presentations with 5 minutes Q/A)

TBD (beginning of March 2021): Polished Draft and Second Reader Forms due to preceptor

  • BA theses tend to range between 35-55 pages

TBD (around mid March 2021): Feedback from Preceptors by this date

Spring 2021

Important Deadlines

TBD (around mid April 2021): Final Draft of BA Thesis due

  • BA theses need title page, including name of preceptor (& second reader if you have one), date of submission, and abstract, and are submitted electronically to preceptor, second reader & Milvia Rodriguez
  • In May, determinations made for special honors & nominations made for Taub Thesis Prize
  • Honors requires overall GPA of 3.4 or higher and having your BA thesis evaluated as honors-deserving
  • The preceptor and second reader can both make nominations; the PBPL faculty committee then vets nominations
  • The thesis evaluation is based on extent and originality of research, argumentation, writing quality, etc.

TBD (around mid May 2021): Celebration! Senior PBPL Dinner & Richard P. Taub Annual Lecture to recognize all our seniors, award Taub Thesis Prize & celebrate your upcoming graduation!

 

Note: If you are planning to graduate prior to Spring quarter please contact the Public Policy Administrator for those BA draft due dates.   

Expectations for the BA Thesis

BA theses should be more comprehensive in both information gathering and analysis than a term paper. You may use secondary sources, analyze existing data sets, or collect your own data or information. The emphasis is on developing a good policy question, settling on an appropriate methodology and utilizing analytical tools to answer the policy question. All public policy majors are required to take PBPL 29800, the BA writing seminar, in the fall quarter of their senior year.  

Double majors may petition to waive one of their majors' BA seminar/colloquium requirement. 

Besides PBPL 29800, students can sign up for up to two quarters (typically the winter and spring quarters in the final year) of PBPL 29900, an independent study course taken under the direction of a faculty member that is designed to provide support for the BA writing process for students working on their BA theses. Generally the faculty member directing the 29900 class would be the student’s preceptor or 2nd reader/faculty adviser.  The precise requirements and grading standards of a PBPL 29900 course are agreed upon between the student and the participating faculty.

BA Thesis Checklist

BA Thesis Checklist and Formatting

Public Policy BA theses are required to contain all the sections spelled out in the BA Thesis checklist and formatted accordingly. This includes a title page that lists the date of submission of your paper along with your preceptor and second reader names. Please review the link below for details on the required sections and formatting for public policy BA theses. 

In general, a senior paper should be more comprehensive in both information gathering and analysis than a term paper. You may use secondary sources, analyze existing data sets, or collect your own data or information. The emphasis is on developing a good policy question, settling on an appropriate methodology and utilizing analytical tools to answer the policy question. No BA thesis is complete without:

  • Title page
  • The BA checklist items
  • Proper formatting
  • Conclusion that addresses the initial policy question

Honors Papers & Honors Eligibility

To be eligible for honors, students must satisfy two requirements:

  • Have an overall GPA of 3.4 or higher to be considered eligible for special honors initially
  • Complete a BA thesis judged acceptable (grade of A or A-) with an honors recommendation

Public Policy's Reading and Research Courses

Public Policy has 3 reading courses:

  • PBPL 29600 for a policy-related internship
  • PBPL 29700 for a general reading course
  • PBPL 29900 for the Public Policy BA paper

These courses all require consent to register. Consent is obtained by completing the College Reading and Research Course Form and obtaining signatures from a faculty person (or preceptor) and the Public Policy director.  

 

The R&R course forms are obtained from the College adviser or the advisers desk on the 2nd floor of Harper Library. These courses receive letter-quality grades only.