The thesis project is an opportunity to synthesize the skills and knowledge you gained in your studies. Working with a Harvard faculty advisor or other suitably experienced professional, you will produce a well-documented, in-depth investigation of a particular aspect of teaching mathematics.

1. Develop a thesis proposal.

When you have completed six courses, consult Dr. Andrew Engelward to:

  • Define your topic.
  • Develop a thesis proposal (it can take up to six months and several drafts to develop an acceptable proposal).
  • Secure a thesis director.

Academic guidelines

Every effort is made to support your research interests, but faculty guidance is not available for all possible projects. Revision or a change of thesis topic may be necessary.

Do not approach faculty about directing your thesis without an approved research proposal and Dr. Engelward’s explicit permission. Failure to follow this guideline could result in disciplinary action.

If you cannot produce an acceptable proposal within nine months of your first proposal submission, you may be required to withdraw from the program.

2. Register for the thesis.

Once your proposal has been approved by Dr. Engelward and you have completed MATH E-16 (or at least demonstrated your readiness for Math E-16 by receiving a grade of B in MATH E-15), you will receive a letter of authorization from the Dean of Continuing Education to register for thesis. Tuition for the thesis is $2,150.

Thesis grading

You are allowed just one attempt to complete the thesis with a passing grade of B- or higher. If you fail to complete substantial work for the thesis, you will earn a grade of TNC (thesis not complete). If you have already earned two withdrawal grades, the TNC grade will count as zero in your cumulative GPA.

If you earn a TNC or grade below a B- on work submitted, you will need to petition the Administrative Board for permission to enroll in the thesis for one final time. If approved, you may be required to develop a new proposal on a different topic and you will be assigned a different thesis director. The board will only review cases in which extenuating circumstances prevented the successful completion of the thesis.

When to register

You may register for the thesis throughout the year.

  • To receive credit in the fall term, register by November 15.
  • To receive credit in the spring term, register by April 15.
  • To receive credit in the summer term, register by July 15.

Examples of past thesis topics

  • A Study of the Effectiveness of Integrating Robotics into the Math Classroom
  • The Effects of Single Gender Mathematics Classrooms on Self-Perception of Mathematical Ability and Post-Secondary Curricular Paths
  • Enhancing the Teaching and Learning of High School Geometry through the Use of a Historical Approach via Astronomy
  • Promoting Teacher Improvement: A Guide to the Use of Videotaping and Consulting in High Schools
  • A Study of the Effectiveness of Culturally Relevant Mathematics Lessons on MCAS Test Performance