Senior Master Thesis & Class

Designed to challenge and inspire our seniors, the Qualia Senior Master Thesis and Class serves as the culmination of Qualia’s four-year philosophy and Symposium curriculum. Seniors consistently find this part of the year the most rewarding experience of their academic career.

Qualia Culmination

A Year-Long
Capstone project

Seniors explore classic and modern questions in all branches of philosophy, searching for the curious, troubling, inspiring one that makes their hearts beat fast. Qualia faculty provide primary source documents from ancient and present-day philosophers, challenging the seniors to mobilize their critical-reading and argument-analysis skills honed over four years of philosophical work.


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“Smartness Culture”, Social Darwinism, and Capitalism

"My masterclass paper is all about the ways in which the concept of intelligence is intertwined with social, racial, and economic power structures. I believe that if we intend to celebrate a wide range of talents and create a world free of arbitrary bias, our approach to the notion of intelligence must change drastically."


While surveying others’ ideas through research, students engage in conversations with Qualia faculty, peers, and younger students about their questions. The process of explaining, probing, defending and refining ideas is as much a part of the Master Thesis as the traditional writing and editing process.


As they develop their own projects, seniors serve as mentors to the younger students. They prepare interactive lessons to present their ideas to the younger students, and then guide them through the process of research, writing, and editing philosophy papers.


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Critical Engagement With the Deficit Model of Autism

“I’m Autistic with severe language impairment, and I think people should know that we are more than our diagnostic label. More and more people are being given that label and should know that it is challenging but it’s not a sentence to oblivion.”


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Mind Over Matter: Explorations of the Placebo Effect

"I have always been interested in the mind and how it relates to the body. I am also looking at whether we have been neglecting the power our brains possess in favor of a simpler solution like medicine."

Master Class

At the end of Fall semester, Qualia Seniors present their developing work to the entire school community. Younger students get a glimpse of the seniors’ big ideas during this event, and the excitement begins to build. Conversations about time, about justice, about the meaning of life start to happen in the hallways. Inspired by a senior topic of their choosing, underclassmen begin to brainstorm their own philosophical ideas. Seniors become resident experts and Socratic teachers.

In the spring, seniors teach interactive master classes to an audience of parents, teachers and peers.