Judaic Studies Senior Capstone Guidelines


The Senior Project will hopefully become the most memorable experience of your academic career at GW!

The Senior Project consists of significant research on any aspect of Jewish Studies and/or Israel Studies (History, Sociology, Literature, Religious Studies, Political Science, International Relations, Economics, and more). It is intended as an exercise in independent research and critical thinking in which the student advances a focused hypothesis (research question) and uses an appropriate method of analysis in relation to a particular subject matter. It must involve original research and delivery, either in the form of a written thesis or another type of project approved by the faculty advisor (for example: a short documentary film, a podcast, a curated online exhibition, GIS mapping, a website, and more).

Over the course of an entire semester, you will work with a faculty adviser and develop an independent research project.

Through the Senior Project, you will be challenged to take ownership of your research, formulate and develop meaningful claims supported by reason and evidence, and communicate logically and effectively.

Working with a Faculty Advisor and steps along the way

Each student defines a thesis topic in consultation with a faculty member who would serve as their advisor and project supervisor. 

The Judaic Studies Program’s academic director will be happy to assist you in finding an appropriate advisor and in all stages along the way.

Breaking it down, step by step:

  1. Find a mentor:

We strongly recommend identifying a mentor before the semester begins!

The project supervisor may be selected among any of the GW Judaic Studies Faculty or, with the approval of the JSP Director another faculty member at GW or elsewhere.

Depending on the nature of the project, you may want to consider selecting a secondary mentor, primarily for technical assistance (e.g., someone with filmmaking experience if you decided to produce a documentary, or curatorial experience if you decided on an exhibition). 

Once the applicant and advisor have agreed on a suitable project, the applicant will present the thesis topic and proposal to the  JSP Director.

  1. Compose and submit a research proposal:

Prepare a short (2-3 pages) project proposal statement in consultation with your advisor. The proposal should include the following elements:

  •  Tentative title
  • A short research statement that describes the research topic and a clear research question or hypothesis, explaining what you expect to find or what problem your paper wishes to solve.
  • A brief statement of methods appropriate to the primary discipline of the thesis, taking into consideration the specific disciplinary aspects of the project.
  • An initial bibliography/list of sources containing no less than 7 items (books, articles, and more)

The proposal should be submitted by week 3 of the semester to your faculty advisor and the JSP Director.

  1. Create a schedule, decide on medium:

In addition to agreeing on the subject matter and the methods of inquiry, you and your faculty adviser are responsible for composing a project timetable.

Break the research project down into manageable steps!

The recommended pace is meeting every two weeks, but it depends on your research agenda and both of your schedules. You should agree to a schedule for submitting drafts of the project to the faculty advisor for commentary and revisions.

Together, you and your academic advisor will also decide on the medium that would be used for the delivery of the research results (i.e., written thesis or a different format).

  1. Final draft submission:

Students must submit a final draft of the project by the last day of classes (before make-up days and finals) to allow the faculty member sufficient time for a full reading and review.

  1. End-of-the-year Presentations:

Students will prepare a 7-15 mins presentation describing the research project’s major aspects and results. The student’s presentation will be followed by a short commentary by the faculty advisor. The presentation will take place at the end of the academic year event, to which other faculty, students (as well as friends and family) are invited.

Structure, Length, and Formatting Guidelines


  • Written Thesis: The required length is between 10,000 and 15,000 words, not including notes, bibliography, and appendices. Notes, tables, and charts should not exceed an additional 5,000 words.
  • Podcast/Filmed Documentary: Between 15 and 25 minutes. The recorded material must be accompanied by a reflection paper of 2,000 and 3,000 words, not including notes, bibliography, and appendices. The reflection paper must present the scholarly research performed for the project and explain the decision-making that informed the content in the project.

* Any extension of the thesis/recoding beyond the maximum must be justified by the nature of the topic, or sustained excellence in the treatment of the subject, or both.


Each written thesis should include the following sections:

  • Cover sheet:  Title of the project, Student’s full name, faculty advisor, program, date.
  • Abstract: Up to 500 words
  • Table of contents.
  • Introduction
  • Body text must be divided into chapters
  • Conclusions
  • Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments (optional)

Notes and explanations:

* The introduction should offer: (1)  a concise overview of the thesis topic and hypothesis (what is your research question?); (2) explanation regarding the data/empirical sources considered;  (3) research design statement,  explaining what analytical approach and methods were used; (4) secondary literature review (who studied the subject before you?); (5) major results and contributions.

* Use this rough skeleton in the case of an audiovisual project as well! Like a written thesis, your documentary movie/podcast should also be guided by a clear research question, consult primary sources, and address existing literature, and more. The Table of Contents used to guide the reader would be replaced by a “roadmap” - a short opening statement describing the main parts of the movie/recording. The bibliography will be included in the reflection paper that would accompany your recording.

*Acknowledgments would appear at the end of the thesis, as a separate chapter. They will not be counted as part of the word limit. In the case of an audiovisual project, acknowledgments and credits would be added at the end of the recording.

Fonts and Format:

  • Times New Roman or Garamond, size 12 (body text).
  • Pages should be 8 1/2" x 11".
  • Pages should be numbered (not including the title page and table of contents).
  • The lines of type must be double-spaced, except for quotations of five lines or more, which should be indented and single-spaced.

Citation  of Texts:

  1. All written texts should include footnotes (rather than endnotes) and a bibliography
  2. All written texts must conform to Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition.
  3. In the case of Hebrew titles in English-language articles:  If a title page of a book or article lists an English translation of the title, include the translated title followed by “[in Hebrew].” If no translation is supplied for the title in the publication being cited, the Hebrew title should appear in transliteration with only the first word of the article and proper names capitalized. For a Hebrew Transcription Chart, please consult the AJS Review’s Instructions for Contributors.


Resolution: color and black and white halftone images must be saved at 300 dpi (dots per inch) at approximately the final size.