Thesis projects

Eileen DiPofi headshot

Writing a senior thesis in FTT was one of the best decisions I could have made while at Notre Dame. My experience affirmed my passion for film and media studies, particularly textual analysis and academic writing. I was able to use a portion of my thesis as the writing sample for my graduate school applications, ultimately leading to a fully-funded offer with the University of Southern California’s Cinema and Media Studies MA program. — Eileen DiPofi '20

The FTT Senior Thesis Program enables you to undertake a capstone project of your choice while working closely with a faculty advisor across the course of your final academic year. You can write a critical analysis or historical study related to film, TV, or theatre; produce a short film; undertake a screenwriting or playwriting project; invent a digital media resource; or explore any high-level FTT project that you can imagine. 

Students major in FTT because they love film, television, and theatre. Completing a senior thesis gives you the opportunity to actualize that passion. A senior thesis can enable you to explore personal interests and advance career goals. Many of our thesis students have also received grants from ISLA, CUSE, the Liu Institute, the Kellogg and Kroc Institutes, and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies to support travel and research. (See list of funding opportunities below.)

Please feel free to talk about any questions or ideas you have with Professor Susan Ohmer, director of the Senior Thesis Program, or with a faculty member with whom you would like to work.

How and when to get started

If you are an FTT major interested in undertaking a senior thesis, apply in spring of your junior year to complete the two-semester thesis project during your senior year. Applications are due April 1 of your junior year. You are strongly encouraged to complete advanced classes in the area in which you want to work before applying.

A senior thesis requires a significant commitment of time and energy. You will take additional coursework on top of the 30 hours required for the major. During the fall semester of your senior year, you will register for a one-credit senior thesis workshop and in the fall and spring, you will also register for three credits of “Thesis and Undergrad Research”  or other classes recommended by your advisors.

Upon completion of the thesis project and all requirements in your senior year, you will be eligible to receive the Honors designation upon graduation, provided your project is approved for that designation by the FTT Thesis & Honors Committee.

Caroline Lezny headshot web 2021

Writing my senior thesis at Notre Dame was my first chance to undertake a project that was entirely my own from conception to production with the amazing support and guidance of FTT faculty. It allowed me to pursue something I was intensely passionate about, work closely with my professors and my peers, and develop my voice as a writer — all of which prepared me beyond any single course to enter the next step towards my professional life with confidence and enthusiasm. Caroline Lezny '20, currently pursuing an MFA

Funding Opportunities

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP)

Facilitated by the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, the Undergraduate Research and Teaching Opportunity Program (UROP) is designed to expose undergraduate students to the rigors and rewards of scholarship. Awards include summer fellowship grants up to $4500 and research and materials grants of $1750.

Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement Research Grants

The Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement offers a variety of grants for many different kinds of undergraduate research. CUSE can help students develop and find funding for many different kinds of research to help make the most of their Notre Dame experience and expand the intellectual life at the University.

Kellogg/Kroc Undergraduate Research Grants

The Kellogg and Kroc Institutes offer summer research grants for undergraduate students at Notre Dame. The grants are intended for juniors whose interests include a clear international dimension related to the Kellogg Institute's themes or the themes of the Kroc Institute. Grants up to $5,000 each will be awarded for research abroad or, if demonstrably appropriate, in the United States. 

Liu Institute for Asia & Asian Studies

The Liu Institute offers funding to support undergraduate student researchstudy abroad, and language study

Nanovic Institute for European Studies

The Nanovic Institute supports undergraduate research with independent travel and research grants, internship and service grants, language study grants, and a new research resources grant to assist students with preliminary research expenses. Projects must articulate a clear connection to Europe and European affairs.