The Senior Thesis


Barnard College has a long-standing commitment to preparing students in the major so that they may undertake a capstone project. All Barnard seniors are required to complete a senior project or thesis, an opportunity the Theatre/Drama & Theatre Arts major extends to all majors, whether from Barnard, Columbia College, or Columbia General Studies. The senior thesis project allows students to develop records of individual research that include theoretical engagement in the major discipline, the development of creative projects or research, and original empirical and interpretive analysis. The form of the senior requirement may vary across majors, but the most common forms are the senior thesis (one or two semesters), supervised original research in a lab, a final creative project, and/or research that has been completed within a dedicated senior seminar. The thesis review will be conducted by the full-time faculty of the department (Goldmark, Mitra, Reagan, H. Worthen, W.B. Worthen), in consultation with faculty in specific thesis fields.


In the Theatre/Drama & Theatre Arts major, the thesis can be undertaken in one of the following fields:

Casebook Format

All Research theses and Performance thesis Casebooks should be typed, double spaced, and use either Chicago Manual of Style or MLA Handbook citation format. Casebooks should have a heading page between each section of the Casebook.

All photos must be identified by source and credited. Sketches, illustrations, elevations, plots, etc. should all be included in the PDF and hard copies: photographs of the production itself may also be included, and must be properly credited.

All theses must have a title page. The title page should take the following format:

Title of Senior Thesis 

Your Name 

Thesis Adviser: Name 

Second Reader: Name 

Department of Theatre, Barnard College, Columbia University 

Drama and Theatre Arts, Columbia College, Columbia University 

Drama and Theatre Arts, School of General Studies, Columbia University 

Submitted on DATE

Please do not use titles for the faculty (Professor, Dr., etc.). Please center your title about 3 inches down from the top of the page; put the names of your adviser and reader, the list of the sponsoring institutions, and the date, aligned right about 2 inches up from the bottom of the page.

Copies of senior theses from previous years can be examined in the Theatre Department main office, Milbank 507.


The Casebook is to be submitted in PDF form to the Theatre Adviser, the Chair, and to the Theatre Administrator by the due date; there are no exceptions to this policy. A hard copy is to be submitted to the Department office, Milbank 507.

Submission deadlines for Senior Thesis in Performance Casebooks/Research Theses:

  • Research Theses: one week before the final class Monday, noon.

  • Dramaturgy, Directing, Design, Acting Theses: Friday following the final performance, noon.

  • Solo Performance, Playwriting Theses: Tuesday following final performance, noon.


All theses will be graded by two readers: the thesis adviser and the second reader. The second reader—who will receive the written thesis/Casebook and will see the performance of performance theses—is not involved in the process of the thesis: s/he does not read or respond to drafts, only the final thesis as submitted.

Senior theses are graded holistically on the overall ambition, clarity, success, tenacity, and representation of the project; although the performance in performance theses is weighted more heavily than the Casebook, both play a critical role in the final grade.

All written documents should be presented professionally: essays develop a clear, original, and well-substantiated argument, carefully documented, using appropriate citation mechanics correctly. Casebook materials are not simply gathered, but receive commentary that explains and briefly analyzes their use in the artistic process.

Since the thesis is a 4-unit course, it's appropriate to consider the written materials as comparable in quality and rigor to written work submitted as final essays in an upper-level class.

After the submission of the written thesis, adviser and second reader confer and come to an agreement on the final grade; they share a final comment with each other, and the comments and final grade are communicated to the student when the final grade is submitted by the adviser.