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The Honors Thesis is a senior year activity that presents students with a wonderful opportunity to experience first-hand the creative processes that are fundamental to universities. The thesis is the quintessential capstone experience that allows students to explore academic areas of their most passionate interests, engage in the process of discovery, make a creative contribution in their areas of interest and work one-on-one with a faculty thesis adviser who is an expert in the area. Completion of a Senior Honors Thesis is required for graduation as a University Honors Scholar and as a Discipline Honors Scholar.

The Honors Thesis encourages students to pursue an area of personal interest in greater depth than that allowed by formal classes. Students are encouraged to use their thesis for both graduate studies and post-graduate employment. The Honors Program does not require students to write a research or scholarly paper for their thesis. Many students choose other avenues or work to fulfill the thesis requirements. Art portfolios, lab research, music and theater recitals, children's books, business plans, design projects, films, and teacher unit plans have all been used to fulfill the Honors Thesis requirements.

Thesis Process

The Honors thesis journey begins with enrolling in Honors Pre-Thesis, HONR 399 (1 credit). This course will help students to select a topic of study, choose a faculty thesis adviser, and develop an Honors Thesis Preliminary Proposal. HONR 399 is a series of class meetings and activities that will guide you through the requirements of the Honors thesis. The class will address the following areas:

  • Selecting a thesis topic and thesis committee (faculty thesis adviser and at least one additional faculty committee member)
  • Exploring the methods of creating your thesis
  • Writing the thesis paper
  • Preparing for the thesis presentation
  • Connecting the thesis with your post-graduate plans
Steps Who Can Edit/Review
1. The student creates draft. Student
2. The student edits and submits draft to the 399 instructor. Student
3. The 399 instructor reviews draft.
*If the 399 instructor approved draft, the student goes to Step 4.
*If the 399 instructor denied draft, the student goes back to Step 2.
399 Instructor
4. The student can edit draft and submit final to the thesis adviser. Student
5. The thesis adviser reviews final and selects Approve/Deny/See Me.
*If the thesis adviser approved final, both the student and the 399 instructor are notified.
*If the thesis adviser selects Deny or See Me, only the student is notified and goes back to Step 4.
Thesis Adviser


Preliminary Proposal Online Form

You should register for Honors thesis credit, HONR 499 (3 credits) in the semester you intend to complete your thesis (typically your senior year). It is advisable to plan to complete your thesis in the first semester of your final year. HONR 499 is similar to an independent study in that you are working directly with your faculty thesis adviser to create the learning experience. Therefore, it is important for you and your faculty thesis adviser to outline your goals, timeline, and expectations of the thesis before the beginning of the semester. There are no official class meetings for HONR499; instead you will have periodic meetings with your thesis adviser.

Steps Deadlines
Formal Proposal 3rd Week of the Semester
Penultimate Draft 13th Week of the Semester
Oral Presentation 15th Week of the Semester
Final Copy Last day of Finals Week
Thesis Evaluation Form Last day of Finals Week


***Please send your Formal Proposal and supporting documents (i.e. approvals of adviser, committee member, etc.) via email (email only – no drop-offs) as a Word Doc or PDF attachment to:***

The Honors Thesis Formal Proposal is a comprehensive statement about your thesis topic and plans. Students should begin working on the Honors Thesis Formal Proposal soon after completing the Honors Thesis Preliminary Proposal. You will work with your faculty thesis adviser to develop the formal proposal and it must be approved by her/him. It is recommended that you complete the Formal Proposal in the semester before you register for HONR 499.

If you wish to change your topic after submitting the formal proposal to the Honors Program, another formal proposal must be approved by your thesis adviser and submitted to the Honors Program before the third week of the semester for review by the Director of the University Honors Program.


***Must be submitted to Thesis Committee by the end of the 13th week of the semester***

The penultimate draft is the polished, second to last copy of the Thesis. The thesis adviser will compile comments and feedback given by the committee members and forward them to the student after the thesis presentation. The student will incorporate changes (if any) made by the faculty thesis adviser into the final thesis copy.

Make sure to fill out online Thesis Presentation Form at least one week before your Thesis Presentation.

Thesis Presentation Form

***Must be presented by the end of the 15th week of the semester***

The Honors thesis presentation differs from a graduate thesis defense in that it is shorter and intended to be a celebration of your learning experience. The presentation is approximately 15 - 20 minutes in duration followed by a question and answer session with the committee. Remember to work with your faculty thesis adviser on the desired format.

Students whose thesis is artistry (vocal recitals, dance performances, plays, films, or art portfolios) must also have a presentation followed by a question and answer session. In these cases, students typically present their formal reflection paper.

Early in the semester, students should work with their major department to select a time with the committee and reserve a room for the presentation.

Faculty, staff, students, family members, and other interested individuals are welcome to attend and it is expected that they will contact the student and/or adviser before the presentation date. Students preparing to give a thesis presentation are strongly encouraged to attend another student’s thesis presentation prior to scheduling their own presentation.

Make sure to fill out online Thesis Presentation Form at least one week before your Thesis Presentation.

Thesis Presentation Form

Following the formal oral presentation and question and answer session, the committee will excuse the student and audience, discuss the grade for the paper and presentation, and complete the Honors Thesis Evaluation Form. The committee will then give feedback to the student about his/her presentation.

The student must bring a copy of the Honors Thesis Evaluation Form to the formal presentation.


***Must be submitted to the Honors Office by the end of Finals Week***

1) Students whose theses require a significant written component (e.g., research paper, scholarly paper, business plan, etc.) will submit an electronic final thesis copy to the University Honors Program office.

Specifications for the final copy of the Honors thesis:

  • follow a writing style appropriate for the type of research, design project, or scholarship focus of the thesis
  • style, standards, and length are determined by your thesis adviser

2) Students completing Honors theses that fall outside the boundaries of a traditional research paper (e.g., music recital or art portfolio) will submit to the Honors Program office some form of permanent record of their creative activity (e.g., video, portfolio, or audio CD) and an electronic copy of the seven page, typed formal reflection paper.

Reflection paper must include:

  • an explanation of the topic area and reasons for choosing it
  • the steps taken to complete the project
  • a description of the final work
  • an assessment of the importance of the creative activity and how it contributed to the learning process and/or prepared you for a career
  • a brief reflection about the overall thesis experience

***Must be submitted to the Honors Office by the end of Finals Week***

The evaluation form must be delivered to the Honors Program Office when the final copy of the thesis is completed. Please note that the thesis adviser determines the final grade and completes the oral presentation assessment for HONR 499. If the form is not submitted by the deadline for submitting grades at the end of the semester, the student will receive an “Incomplete” grade. This may delay the official graduation date, as students cannot graduate with an incomplete grade on their transcript.

The student must bring a copy of the Honors Thesis Evaluation Form to the formal presentation.