In keeping with Allegheny’s commitment to provide students with a liberal arts education that meets the highest standards, the Senior Project is not a mere report or semester paper, but a significant piece of independent study, research or creative work conducted under the supervision of one or more faculty members.
The outcome of a Senior Project is more than a grade or a written document; for the student it often results in a new way of looking at complex problems and inspires an appreciation for the power of ideas that might previously have seemed like abstract concepts in a textbook. Often it can be a pivotal time when a student realizes his or her own abilities and potential. The Senior Project also improves opportunities for graduate school and employment.
Learn more about the Senior Project
Since the College’s first commencement in 1821, Allegheny students have showcased their exceptional academic achievements through a senior capstone experience of one kind or another. At times it involved an oral defense, at others a written thesis. The notion of a written Senior Project coupled with a comprehensive oral examination first appeared in the 1942 College Catalogue. In the 1970s, oral examinations shifted from a general defense of disciplinary expertise to a more focused verbal presentation of the Senior Project findings.
The Senior Project provides students with an opportunity to integrate discipline-specific scholarship with the communication and research skills necessary for professionals in the 21st century. During their first year at Allegheny, students write, speak, and research frequently in their first-year seminars. By the sophomore year they are ready to undertake the complexities of writing and speaking in a specific discipline. They further hone these disciplinary communication skills in a junior seminar, the final preparatory phase for the Senior Project. By the senior year students are sufficiently prepared to undertake a scholarly endeavor approximating those experiences they will face as professionals in their field.
The culminating experiences of the Senior Project are as varied as the disciplines that produce them, from recitals, performances, and exhibits to written and oral presentations on laboratory research. Many illustrate unusual combinations of disciplines, interests and skills. The Senior Project Celebration offers an open forum for students to present their projects, allowing seniors to refine their skills in presenting to a broad audience and share ideas with other students and the campus community.