I believe the Princeton thesis requirement is an essential component of our unique educational experience. Original, deeply concentrated, extended study of a specific topic is very different from coursework. Princeton’s requirement provides a unique opportunity for students to experience real scholarly research. Making the thesis optional would defeat three major benefits of the program: 1) introducing unsuspecting students to the joys of research, 2) providing a collaborative experience with faculty scholars, and 3) enabling all students to have research experience to better prepare them as educated world citizens.
The senior thesis enables students to become real experts in a field (however narrow) and to understand the twists and turns that ultimately lead us to knowledge. My thesis with Professor Masakazu Konishi was my most important educational experience at Princeton and prepared me well for my Ph.D., two dozen journal articles and book chapters, 49 U.S. patents, and a fascinating career in biological research and business.