The History of the Princeton University Senior Thesis

The senior thesis has been a requirement of all undergraduate students at Princeton University since 1926.

Senior Theses lined up for exhibit. Historical Photograph Collection, AC112, MP012, Image 765

Senior Theses lined up for exhibit. Historical Photograph Collection, AC112, MP012, Image 765, 1942.

During a Faculty Meeting on February 19th, 1923, the Committee on the Course of Study submitted a report for a new study plan known as the “Four Course Plan.” The four course plan called for an extensive reading program for the student in his department under the supervision of an adviser, with the goal that students gain a better command of a subject during independent work. “The plan was instituted in 1924 for the degree of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science and put into operation for the Class of 1923 as juniors.” (Luther Pfahler Eisenhart, Dean of the Faculty)

By 1926, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree requirements included a senior thesis and a comprehensive examination, an innovation that soon became a hallmark of a Princeton education.
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Embargo Renewal Information for Ph.D. Graduates

This post was updated on April 23, 2014

This fall, the first set of dissertation embargoes that were instituted under the Graduate School’s revised policy on Publication, Access, and Embargoing of Doctoral Dissertations will expire. This embargo policy only applies to dissertations submitted on or after August 29, 2011.

Those who wish to request a renewal of an existing embargo must email the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Cole Crittenden, in the Graduate School and provide the reason for the extension. While embargoes may be extended with the request of the student and the approval of the Graduate School, they can never be re-instituted after having expired.

Embargoes automatically expire two years from the date on which the Ph.D. was awarded (degrees are awarded five times per year at Board of Trustee meetings); this date will coincide with the degree date (month and year) on the title page of your dissertation.

An embargo renewal must be requested in writing at least one month before the original embargo has expired, but may not be requested more than three months prior to the embargo expiration date.

Graduates are responsible for keeping track of when their embargoes expire. One can find out exactly when an embargo will expire by checking the dissertation’s record in DataSpace. First, search for the dissertation by the author’s name or its title, click the button at the bottom of the item record that says “show full item record,” and view the date in the “pu.embargo.lift” field. This is the date that the embargo will automatically expire.

The Graduate School will inform the Mudd Library of all embargo extensions and Mudd Library staff will apply the extensions in ProQuest and in DataSpace.

This information can also be found on our dissertations webpage under “Embargoes.”