Senior Papers

Each History Major at Luther College must do a senior paper at some point during their senior year. You will not receive a diploma and officially graduate until this task is successfully completed. 


  • Must be a minimum of 25 pages in length and must be based heavily upon primary sources.
  • Each senior paper must include a title page, body, citations done in either footnote or endnote format, and a bibliography.
  • Citation style for the bibliography and notes must conform to the Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition) which is available in Preus Library and in brief form in the Holt Handbook (3rd edition), Turabian, or Little Seagull Handbook.
  • Must present the paper to professors and students at the end of the semester (worth 10 percent of the senior paper grade).


  • One or more of the faculty must serve as topic advisors and they will help you choose and focus your research. 
  • It is very important to choose an advisor the semester before you plan to do your senior paper. At the very latest, you should talk to your advisor the first week of the semester you are doing your senior paper.
  • You must have the approval of a topic advisor before embarking upon your Senior Paper.
  • The topic advisor will, in consultation with the student, establish all subsequent guidelines such as due dates for drafts, bibliography, discussion meetings or other criteria with the exception of the final due date which is the decision of the registrar and is published in the college's academic calendar

Important Dates

  1. Communicate with an advisor during the semester before the semester in which you will do the senior paper.
  2. Choose an advisor by the first week of the semester in which you will do the senior paper.
  3. With your advisor, establish a calendar for your research process.
  4. Consult the rubric as you develop your paper.
  5. Submit the Senior Paper Topic Form and submit to Professor Tebbenhoff by October 1 in the Fall and by March 1 in the Spring.
  6. Submit the final paper to the registrar's office by the date on the Luther College calendar.
  7. Present the paper to faculty and students on the date announced by the History Department (Normally the second to last or last week of the semester).

Steps to Complete Your Research Paper

  1. Select a topic and an advisor at the end of the semester prior to the one in which you plan to write the paper.
    • Students can choose to substantially revise a previous paper written for History 485. This includes using new sources, introducing a new thesis, and increasing the length of the previous paper.
    • Choice of topic is up to the student’s interests regarding time period and area of the world, but you must consider the advisor with whom you are working, the resources of the library, and what it is possible to get on interlibrary loan given constraints of time.
  2. Meet with your advisor and set up due dates for process documents, such as a prospectus, annotated bibliography, first five pages, etc.
  3. Find a significant number of primary sources and secondary sources. Use interlibrary loan if necessary.
  4. Fill out the Senior Paper Topic Form and submit to Professor Tebbenhoff.
    • This needs to be turned by October 1 in the fall and by March 1 in the Spring.
  5. Analyze the rubric for evaluation of senior papers.
  6. Turn in rough draft to advisor two weeks before final due date
  7. As you prepare the manuscript, see the Hints for Research and Writing. Another resource is looking through past works, many of which are published in issues of The Luther Skald.
  8. Submit paper to registrar's office by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29th.
    • On or before that date you must turn in one complete copy of your paper and two copies of your cover page to the Registrar’s Office.