THE WHAT AND WHY
The culmination of the Honors Bachelors degree, the Honors Thesis is a significant undergraduate research project completed under the supervision of a faculty member approved by the Honors Faculty Advisor in the student’s major.
The culmination of the Honors Bachelors degree, the Honors Thesis is a significant undergraduate research project completed under the supervision of a faculty member approved by the Honors Faculty Advisor in the student’s major. Its purpose is to advance knowledge and understanding within the context of a research university and to further develop the student’s intellectual, professional and personal growth as a member of the Honors College. Thesis projects may take different forms in different majors – e.g. laboratory experiments, historical research or artistic creations, to name a few – but always demonstrate research expertise in the major field, a command of relevant scholarship and an effort to contribute to that scholarship.
Whether you’re committed to working in your major field, or keeping your options open, completing an Honors Thesis gives you the experience to help you get where you want to go.
Gain real research experience in your field and learn how to communicate it.
Tackle and own a project that you’re passionate about.
Stretch yourself intellectually through close work with a faculty expert.
And the practical value of an Honors Thesis? Unlimited. An Honors Thesis helps you to:
Get accepted to grad school, medical school, law school Competitive programs greatly value research experience and the motivation, maturity, and depth of study required to complete a thesis.
Find a job. Employers, in your field or outside it, seek candidates with the commitment and practical skills required to complete an independent project.
Figure out your path. Do you even like research in your major? Or are you ready to try something else?
Each department defines the appropriate topics, parameters and standards of Honors thesis research. Faculty outside of the major may supervise thesis projects with the approval of the Honors Faculty Advisor in the student’s major. Topics might be developed out of faculty research, coursework, class projects, UROP projects, community engaged research or even internships. The required Thesis Proposal Form must be signed by both the Thesis Faculty Mentor and the Honors Faculty Advisor within the student’s major. Take a look at our general Thesis Guidelines.
There is no uniform required length for Honors theses, which vary widely across different fields and topics. However, a range of 30-40 pages is common. Honors Faculty Advisors in each major and the Faculty Supervisor will set specific expectations. See examples of theses from your major here.
DEVELOPING A THESIS
It’s never too early to start thinking about potential thesis topics. Below are some ideas for getting started!
Think About Potential Thesis Topics
While taking upper-level classes in your major, start thinking about what topics you like that are being discussed. What interests you? What sounds like a good project? Is there a paper, group project, or internship you have completed and would like to continue or develop further? If you are in the sciences and are working in a research lab, is there a project you could start working on that might culminate in your thesis? Talk to your professors! Based on your classes and other academic or research experiences, think about narrowing down to a more specific topic. See examples of theses in your major.
Second and third years typically see students refining their interests in their major, and starting to hone in on a research topic. Continue taking classes in your major, and paying attention to things like: topics that interest you; faculty whose research is interesting, and with whom you connect; questions you have that don't seem like they have good answers. These are all important data in developing your project! Make sure that you are a part of the Thesis Mentoring Community, and that you are consulting those modules and attending events that are of interest to you. And connect with other students in your major - though everyone types their own thesis, we never think in a vacuum and having a community of peers makes the process so much more fun. Also, be in touch with your Honors Faculty Advisor. You can determine who that is from the link below.
For many of you, this could be your first time working on a big research project. You might be excited, but you also might be nervous and feel unprepared. All of those things are normal! The Thesis Mentorship Community (TMC) is here to help with that. This community has a living-learning community (LLC) component but also is open to all students in the Honors College via the Canvas Course for the community. The TMC is open to students in their second year and beyond, and will help guide (mentor) you through the thesis process from preliminary planning, to research, and on to the writing of the thesis. Information on the Canvas course as well as programming organized through the Canvas course connects students to other honors students in their field of study as well as faculty in their home department and resources throughout the larger university that will assist in the thesis research and writing process.
Meet with your department’s Honors Faculty Advisor to discuss potential topics and faculty members to serve as your Thesis Faculty Mentor. (If you are working in a research lab, usually the professor over the lab can be your thesis mentor.)
Meet with Thesis Faculty Mentor and Solidify Topic:
Meet with your Faculty Mentor and confirm the topic and scope of your thesis. Work together on creating a timeline for your thesis work, and establish how you will go through the revision and completion process. After you have finalized your thesis topic, submit a signed Honors Thesis Proposal form to the Honors College.
THESIS COMPLETION TIMELINE
You have your thesis topic and mentor, now the real work begins. Here are the steps you need to take to complete your Honors thesis.
*Note: Dates are for a Spring graduate, modify accordingly if you are graduating in a different semester
WRITE YOUR THESIS
Typically during your Third and/or Fourth Year
Be sure to meet with your Faculty Mentor to agree on a schedule for reviewing your progress, submitting drafts, making final revisions, etc. Theses with approval signatures are due to the Honors College one week before grades are due to the Registrar's Office, the semester you plan to graduate.
Please use the Thesis Formatting Template for your final thesis.
Sign up for **** 4999 (Honors Thesis Course in your major)
4999 is a 3 credit hour class in your major, which indicates you are working independently with your supervisor on your thesis. Talk to your Honors Faculty Advisor or major academic advisor to receive a permission code.
Also make sure your major advisor has declared you for an Honors Bachelors Degree in your major (HBA, HBS, HBFA etc.)