The Honors Thesis is the culmination of years of hard work for a student in the Honors Program. Rigorous coursework, professor mentorships, independent research, studying abroad, leadership experiences, and even consultation with professionals in the field are all key components of this project in a student’s senior year. The precise form of the Honors Thesis can vary depending on the student’s major field, and examples can be found by clicking for a list of completed theses from previous years. We encourage students who are curious about their areas of study to pursue the Honors Thesis, so to be eligible to write one, 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.
Faculty mentors play a key role in helping students develop this project, and there are many ways in which students can foster these relationships. The Honors Program encourages students to explore their range of interests by, of course, being active and engaged members of your classes. In addition, students can learn about and from professors further by participating in the Wall Societies, attending Weatherhead Roundtables, pursuing research assistant positions, and going to professors’ office hours. 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 and sometimes earlier, depending on the field, such as in the sciences and engineering. The following two examples of Honors Theses, written by students last year, provide some information about the work that is associated with an Honors Thesis:
Dylan Koester ’18 took his studies in Music to the next level with his Honors Thesis. It combined a written analytical component with a concert of his own compositions. The subject of Dylan’s thesis was the history of the chamber wind ensemble from the 18th century until today. In the course of his narrative, he traced the developments of the style, and analyzed several pieces along the way. The written component was an opportunity for him to delve into the research side of music performance. He worked on conducting with Maxim Samarov, Senior Professor of Practice in the Music Department and his first reader, since beginning his studies at Tulane. Dylan’s passion for music was his driving force for the project.
Hannah Craig ’18 studied Public Health and Environmental Studies, and her Honors Thesis was directed by Nancy Mock, Associate Professor, Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences. Hannah examined the experiences of refugee women who sought— and continue to seek— asylum in Europe during the recent crisis. The personal experiences of refugees was a topic of long-time interest for Hannah. As a junior, she concluded her study abroad semester in Chile with an independent research project, studying the integration of Syrian refugees there. She then worked with Catholic Charities, Louisiana’s designated resettlement agency, and over a winter break, she travelled to Greece and volunteered at a refugee camp.
Topics and approaches to Honors Theses can vary greatly, but whatever the discipline, the benefits of writing an Honors Thesis are numerous. Not only will students gain research experience, but they will also develop as independent thinkers. It is a project drawn from a student’s own passions and interests, and an opportunity to delve deep into a topic. The Honors Thesis demonstrates the student’s capacity for quality research and gives evidence of mastery of the material in a field. This culminating intellectual experience serves as an opportunity to prepare students for their next steps, whatever they are, because it demonstrates a strong work ethic, a capacity to adapt and overcome challenges, and a genuine curiosity that drives us to question and attempt to understand the world around us.
Please come by the Honors Office in Hebert Hall, 105 with any questions.