Senior “comps,” or comprehensives, reflect Oxy’s educational philosophy of learning deeply and independently.

Comps are the senior-year theses, field research projects, art exhibits, presentations or creative works required by academic majors at Oxy to demonstrate mastery of the subject. Each discipline defines its expectations differently, but they all challenge students to expand and excel intellectually, and place the capstone on their educational experience.

A U.S. News & World Report survey of senior academic officers nationwide included Occidental among the top 12 institutions “with stellar examples of senior capstones” (in the good company of Brown, Duke, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale). The comps experience is rigorous but rewarding, resulting in a substantive intellectual contribution and a launching pad for future professional or graduate work.

You might draw your comps inspiration from your diverse surroundings in Los Angeles or your research and exploration abroad. Whether the subject is the emotional geographies of the Great Migration, the international politics of the Butterfly Effect, or generating music using artificial intelligence, senior comps inspire many Oxy students to unimagined heights. They are a distinctive and memorable part of an Oxy education.

Recent Senior Comps Projects

Pablo Nukaya-Petralia
Pablo Nukaya-Petralia

Art History major
Can a work of art change over time? For his comps, Pablo considered how the performance “Cut Piece” by Yoko Ono transformed over multiple iterations. Comparing identical-but-distinct performances separated by decades, he explored the nature of performance art itself, thinking about its specificity to the artist and their lived experience. It's a line of thinking he hopes to pursue in graduate school.

Stella Ramos '20
Stella Ramos

Religious Studies major
Stella explored the Environmental Justice movement and the case study of the Salmon Homecoming Celebration, a spiritually rooted annual direct action against exploitative environmental practices. “I thoroughly enjoyed the comps process, which allowed me to connect to my familial ancestry and spirituality while combatting the anti-Indigenous and settler-colonial harms that weave their way into much of academic discourse.”

Tianay Nickens
Tianay Nickens

Media Arts & Culture major
Tianay created an interactive online installation that centers on her childhood and her relationship with media and music. Virtual rooms showcase specific memories as well as reenactments from her childhood. “Building a website was amazing and I learned skills that I will be able to utilize on all my future projects.”

Gianna Zinnen '20
Gianna Zinnen

Biology major
Gianna researched giant viruses (particularly large in physical size and genome), analyzing the effects of a three-way interaction between a giant marine virus that infects microbes and a smaller virus that parasitizes the giant virus in turn. “It was a great way to learn how to both conduct a thorough literature review, and present and write about science.”

Jagmit Dhami '20
Jagmit Dhami

Politics major
Jagmit researched and wrote about a topic of personal interest: “Candidate Strategies of South Asian American Politicians.” There is very little research on South Asian Americans in the political landscape in current literature, and Jagmit received distinction for her original work.

Zander Granath '20
Zander Granath

Sociology major
Zander investigated queer and hyper-masculinity in online spaces, and he interviewed more than 20 queer men in L.A. “I’ve worked on this project for three years and got funding from the Undergraduate Research Center. It was amazing to learn qualitative and interviewing skills, go through the institutional review board process and apply for funding.”


August Barringer
August Barringer

Studio Art major
August created Effulgence, a sculptural installation that fuses societal gender binaries, embodying the struggles and celebrating the triumphs of the transgender experience. It is a monument to the transgender people who struggle every day just in order to be themselves, she says. Plus, “I was able to gain experience with an oral defense of my thesis, which is a crucial component of MFA Programs.”