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Honors Program

What is an Honors Thesis?


The Honors Thesis is an original piece of student research. Working under an advisor, students produce a document, generally 50-100 pages in length (depending upon the discipline), that provides an overview of their research. In order to receive a grade for the Honors Thesis course, students must complete an open defense of their projects. In some disciplines, the Honors Thesis is not a document. Rather, it is an invention, creative piece, or alternative media project. This is quite acceptable and even encouraged.

Students wanting to write an Honors Thesis should be engaged in a research project no later than three semesters prior to their intended defense date. The Honors Program recommends the students follow the process outlined below for preparing for an Honors Thesis:

Two semesters prior to intended defense date: Student should contact several professors in the thesis discipline to talk with them about ideas. Alternatively, they take honors contracts that explore possible topics in a preliminary way.

Semester prior to intended defense date: Student should be working with the professor whom he or she would like to act as the primary reader for the thesis. This can be through an independent study or more informally. Toward the end of the semester, the student should submit a thesis proposal to her or his intended primary reader. This should be a 500-word description of the projected thesis. Once this is approved by the reader, the student and reader should set up a meeting with the Honors Director to enroll you in a section of "Honors Thesis." Note: You should have this meeting no later than three weeks before the end of the semester prior to the one in which you want to complete the thesis.

Semester of intended defense date: Students should enroll in "Honors Thesis" and continue working on the thesis. The student and the primary reader should negotiate a meeting schedule throughout the semester and clearly delineate what should be accomplished by each meeting period. Honors recommends that you meet no less than every second week. The entire thesis should be submitted to readers by no later than three weeks before the end of the semester. Theses are defended on the last Tuesday of classes. And an electronic copy of the thesis, with the appropriate cover page (obtained through Honors) and in the proper format is due on the day of the defense.

As professors, directing honors theses is a great way of demonstrating that you are actively engaging students in research. It is very rewarding and has proven to be one of the most meaningful experiences that our students can have as undergraduates. You should feel free to encourage your best honors students to think about this option! 

If you personally have any questions about this process or would like to see a copy of past honors theses, please feel free to contact Honors at 590-7490.