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Honors Thesis

Science and Engineering Faculty Pictured with Graduating Seniors at Honors Senior Thesis Reception
 

During the senior year students may write an Honors thesis or complete an equivalent Honors project. The precise form of the Honors Thesis will vary depending on the student’s major field. (Students in the School of Business have the option of undertaking a special honors project; see the School of Business undergraduate handbook for specific details.) To be eligible to write an honors thesis, a student must have an overall cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher, and a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the major or majors for which the thesis is to be written.

Note that students typically will not be allowed to register for the honors thesis in their third year of undergraduate study, regardless of whether or not they have sufficient credit hours to qualify for “senior standing.” Exceptions to this rule may be granted by way of a petition to the Director of the Honors Program in cases where students can demonstrate sufficient academic training, or some other compelling academic rationale, for undertaking the thesis project in the third year.  Each petition must be accompanied by a letter of support from a faculty member who has agreed to direct the honors thesis.

As the culminating achievement of the scholar’s undergraduate career, this thesis or project involves substantial independent research and study under the direction of a professor in the scholar’s major department. The honors thesis should demonstrate the student’s capacity for quality research and should give evidence of mastery of the material in a field. Topics should be framed in terms of a question to be asked, a problem to be explored, or a hypothesis to be tested. The thesis should show comprehensive awareness of what scholars or relevant experts are saying and have said about a subject.

Topics for honors theses generally develop out of ongoing relationships with faculty mentors. Students normally begin preliminary exploration of the thesis topic in discussion with one or more potential faculty advisors during the spring of the junior year. Students in the humanities, in particular, are encouraged to take the Honors Thesis Boot Camp course during the spring of the junior year to facilitate this process. Please note that if you intend to write a thesis in the laboratory sciences, you must develop a relationship with a faculty member in whose lab you intend to do your research, and normally begin working in the lab during the junior year, if not earlier. Also note that if you intend to write a thesis in the performing or visual arts that it is expected that the thesis will also contain a significant written component.

All honors theses must be two semester projects.