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As seniors sweat theses, SPIA offers short extension

White building with modernist spires with corner profile on clear blue day next to a red brick building.
Robertson Hall houses Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs.
Angel Kuo / The Daily Princetonian

“I am very grateful for the thesis extension given to seniors in SPIA. When the announcement was made, a collective sigh of relief could be heard from all SPIA seniors across campus,” Taryn Sebba ’23 said.

As seniors across campus scramble to finish their theses, the School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) recently announced that the deadline for students’ senior theses would be extended from April 6 to April 10.


In a statement to The Daily Princetonian, SPIA Director of Communication Tom Durso said that, “We looked at our calendar and realized we could afford to give students a few extra days to work on their senior theses.” 

This extension is not without precedent. In recent years, the deadline was extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and last year, the Politics Department extended its deadline. When asked when the deadline usually is, Durso stated “on or close to April 6.” 

The senior thesis has been a graduation requirement since 1926, with only some engineering students excluded from completing one. The University deadline for the senior thesis this year is Monday, May 1, but each department is free to set its own deadline. Any extension beyond that date is given only for a compelling reason, and the extension must be approved by both the department and the residential college dean.

University media relations assistant Ahmad Rizvi told the ‘Prince,’ “In setting their individual deadlines, departments take into account their particular timeline for the completion of the thesis as a year-long project, as well as the time period needed to allow for a thorough evaluation of the thesis by two or more readers before submitting grades and determining departmental honors” — the deadlines for which are May 18 and May 24, respectively, according to the University’s academic calendar.

Among the different University departments, the Philosophy Department has the earliest senior thesis deadline at April 3, while the Mathematics, Physics, and African American Studies departments have thesis deadlines of May 1.



Moreover, the announcement comes months after the University piloted a program last semester that would allow 24-hour extensions on Dean’s Date assignments, amid campus discussion around academic rigor and mental health. 

Kanishkh Kanodia ’23 echoed this sentiment. 

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“Even though in theory in four days, you really cannot change your thesis much … I think just having a broader time horizon has made me less stressed, and I am sure the same can be said about a lot of us.”

All students work one-on-one with a faculty advisor who guides the student through the thesis process. The University offers thesis boot camps for seniors, and the Office of the Dean of the College provides a month-by-month Senior Action Plan that helps students plan their writing. The University also provides funding for students to pursue their research. In particular, SPIA provides a Senior Thesis Advisor Selection Guide, which students can use to identify thesis advisors who share their interests, as well as a Senior Thesis Manual that guides students through the process of writing a SPIA thesis. All departments for which students must write a thesis have similar resources available to students. 

Kanodia described the support he has received from the SPIA department during the thesis process, telling the ‘Prince’ that “The Undergraduate Office is always looking for ways to make it a collaborative process, through which we don’t feel alone. And I feel like whenever I have needed help, if I have tried to find a resource, it has worked out.”  

Sebba also expressed that she believed other departments should also extend their deadlines for the sake of student mental health.

“Four days may not seem like a lot, but it is a significant enough amount of time to encourage students to rest, allow them to have unabashedly cheered on our men's basketball team, check in on their friends with looming deadlines, and simply breathe. Academic rigor must not, and doesn’t need to, come at the expense of students’ well-being. I hope other departments will follow suit.”

Olivia Sanchez is a News staff writer for the ‘Prince.’

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