Senior Independent Research

(ORF 479, spring semester Senior year, only)

Choosing a topic and a faculty advisor:

Conduct of the ORF 479, Senior Independent Research, counts as one of at least four courses that you will take during the spring semester of your senior year.

The process for choosing a topic and an advisor is the same as with the Senior Thesis. In April of your junior year you will be invited to attend a meeting where the ORFE faculty will present their current research interest. These interests are also listed in the ORFE Guide to Faculty Research. Based on your attendance at this meeting and informal discussions with individual faculty members you will be asked to craft an ordered list of one-semester research concepts that you are keen in undertaking with the help and guidance of a member of the Princeton University Faculty. Your ordered list of 4 or so topics should contain a very brief (25 words or less) description of each research topic with the name of the appropriate faculty advisor. Based on faculty work loads, extent of overlapping interest between you and the advisor and your ranking, you will be assigned an Orf 479 Senior Independent Research faculty advisor. You will have all summer and all of the fall semester to get organized to conduct your research in the spring. No later than Dean’s Date of the end of the fall semester of your Senior year you are required to submit a Research Prospectus, described below. Given the extent of time that you have to prepare this prospectus a severe grade penalty, described below, will be assessed for a late submittal of the Senior Independent Project Prospectus.


  1. Research Prospectus: In preparation for doing ORF 479, Senior Independent Research, in the fall semester of your Senior year you are required to prepare an initial report that serves as a prospectus or guide for your independent research. This Research Prospectus is due on Deans Date of the fall semester of your Senior year. It serves the purpose of ensuring that you have a clear vision of the work that lies ahead for you and your faculty advisor. The Research Prospectus should include: a title, a 50 word abstract, an initial Table of Contents of the final written report, and 3-5 pages of text which describes the expected effort, models to be used, sources of data, and key references. Two stapled copies of the prospectus are due by 4:30 pm to the ORFE Undergraduate office. Note that emailed copies are not accepted and nor printed copies turned in to your advisor. Severe final grade penalties of 1/3 of a grade per day will be assessed for failure to meet this deadline.
  2. Meeting with your Advisor: You are expected to meet with your advisor on a weekly basis throughout the spring semester.
  3. Final Report: The final report is your creation. It serves to appropriately document the research you have done during the spring semester. Typically the Final Report is 30-50 pages. Three copies of the report, two hard bound and one electronic submission in PDF to Blackboard are required to be turned in no later than Dean’s Date, by 4:30 pm to the ORFE Undergraduate office. Note that emailed copies are not accepted and should not be turned in to your advisor. Failure to meet this deadline also results in the assessment of a final grade penalty of 1/3 of a grade per day.


  1. Research Prospectus is worth 10% of the final grade.
  2. Final Report is worth 90% of the final grade.

There are severe final grade penalties for late submissions:

The Research Prospectus is penalized at 1/3 of a final course grade per day for lateness (be aware that the penalty for lateness is 1/3 of a final grade per day not 1/3 of the presets grade).

The Final Report is also penalized at 1/3 of a final course grade for lateness

Implications on Department Course Requirements:

Students choosing the one semester Orf 479, Senior Independent Research option are required to take an additional Department Elective from the list provided in the Academic Guide for Undergraduates.