50. Senior Thesis Requirement


One of the most distinctive elements of a Princeton education is the requirement for each student to pursue independent study and original research, under the guidance of a faculty member, resulting in a senior thesis.  This requirement was first implemented with the Class of 1925, and the ensuing generations of Princeton graduates have consistently described it as the most valuable element of their education, in terms of both the intellectual growth and mental discipline fostered by the experience.  Nonetheless, the process of creating a 100 page-long paper has resulted in many long nights for Princeton seniors over the years.  This picture, which appeared on the cover of the April 26, 1940 issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly, seems to have been a staged reenactment of a student settling in at 10:45 PM for a long night of earnest thought about the life and writings of Madame de Stael.