For an A.B. degree, a research thesis is strongly encouraged but not required; a thesis is necessary to be considered for High or Highest Honors. Additionally, a thesis will be particularly useful for students interested in pursuing graduate engineering research.
In the S.B. degree programs, every student completes a design thesis as part of the required senior capstone design course (ES 100hf). During the year-long course students design and prototype a solution to an engineering problem of their own choice.
The guide below provides an overview of the requirement for an A.B. thesis in Mechanical Engineering:
Some recent thesis examples across all of SEAS can be found on the Harvard DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard) repository.
Mechanical Engineering Senior thesis examples:
- Prototyped a mug to keep tea the perfect drinking temperature using a novel wax substrate for thermal control
Engineering A.B. Thesis Extensions and Late Submissions
Thesis extensions will only be granted in extraordinary circumstances, such as hospitalization or grave family emergency. An extension may only be granted by the DUS (who may consult with thesis advisor, resident dean, and readers). For joint concentrators, the other concentration should also support the extension. To request an extension, please email your ADUS or DUS, ideally several business days in advance. Please note that any extension must be able to fall within our normal grading, feedback, and degree recommendation deadline, so extensions of more than a few days are usually impossible.
Late submissions of thesis work will not be accepted. A thesis is required for joint concentrators, and a late submission will prevent a student from fulfilling this requirement. Please plan ahead and submit your thesis by the required deadline.
Senior Thesis Submission Information for A.B. Programs
Senior A.B. theses are submitted to SEAS and made accessible via the Harvard University Archives and optionally via DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard), Harvard's open-access repository for scholarly work.
In addition to submitting to the department and thesis advisors & readers, each SEAS senior thesis writer will use an online submission system to submit an electronic copy of their senior thesis to SEAS; this electronic copy will be kept at SEAS as a non-circulating backup. Please note that the thesis won't be published until close to or after the degree date. During this submission process, the student will also have the option to make the electronic copy publicly available via DASH. Basic document information (e.g., author name, thesis title, degree date, abstract) will also be collected via the submission system; this document information will be available in HOLLIS, the Harvard Library catalog, and DASH (though the thesis itself will be available in DASH only if the student opts to allow this). Students can also make code or data for senior thesis work available. They can do this by posting the data to the Harvard Dataverse or including the code as a supplementary file in the DASH repository when submitting their thesis in the SEAS online submission system.
Whether or not a student opts to make the thesis available through DASH, SEAS will provide an electronic record copy of the thesis to the Harvard University Archives. The Archives may make this record copy of the thesis accessible to researchers in the Archives reading room via a secure workstation or by providing a paper copy for use only in the reading room. Per University policy, for a period of five years after the acceptance of a thesis, the Archives will require an author’s written permission before permitting researchers to create or request a copy of any thesis in whole or in part. Students who wish to place additional restrictions on the record copy in the Archives must contact the Archives directly, independent of the online submission system.
Students interested in commercializing ideas in their theses may wish to consult Dr. Fawwaz Habbal, Senior Lecturer on Applied Physics, about patent protection. See Harvard's policy for information about ownership of software written as part of academic work.