Educational Consultant on Bates 1 of 5: The Senior Thesis / Capstone

Mark Montgomery, expert educational consultant and college admissions advisor, visits Bates College in Lewiston, Maine for the first in a series of video snapshots of the school. In this video, Mark talks about senior theses and capstone projects, Bates being one of the few liberal arts colleges that require them of all students.

Part of a series on Bates College.
Part 2


So I’m here today on the campus of Bates College, a liberal arts college in Lewiston, Maine, and this is going to be the first of several really quick little snapshots of Bates College, and I hope you find this useful. I’ve really enjoyed my visit here and I learned a few things about the school that I want to share with you.

The first one is that Bates is one of the few colleges in the United States, few liberal arts colleges, that still requires a significant research project of every student. So every student must take what they call either a senior thesis or a capstone. 95% of students take a senior thesis, which is a student-driven research project that they come up with, and that is then faculty-assisted so that they can be successful, but they come up with a significant research project throughout their senior year that they may then present at the end of the year. So one of the students that led our tour, she was getting really excited about an ornithology project that she was putting together herself.

The other 5% of students do what they call a capstone, which is a faculty-driven research project. So the student may identify a professor that they really love, that they’re really interested in, and that professor is doing some really cool research, and so the student can then attach himself or herself to that professor for the year and help advance the professor’s research. So what does that mean, is that a lot of students across the United States and across the world are looking for colleges where they can do independent research as an undergraduate. The fact is that at most colleges and universities around the country, the kids do not actually do that because they actually have to create it themselves, and it’s not required.

So like most other human beings, we’re all kind of lazy and we just tend not to do it. At Bates, however, everybody does it, and so kids who leave here are prepared to do high-level graduate work because they have done that first step, that first step of independent research that makes them ready to take on the graduate research. So that’s just one of many things to think about with Bates College.


Mark Montgomery
Expert Educational Consultant

Published by Mark Montgomery

Mark is a leading educational consultant. His experience as a professor, college administrator, and youth mentor help him guide students from around the country and around the world.

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