Honors Thesis Rationale

All Honors students must complete a thesis in order to fulfill the requirements for graduation with honors. This project is the culmination of your disciplinary study. It will enable you to demonstrate your (1) understanding of the tools (methods, theories and models) of a discipline and the ability to use these tools, (2) ability to develop an informed, well-reasoned and creative response to a question or problem, and (3) ability to effectively communicate the results of a project, both orally and in writing. The Honors Thesis also gives you the opportunity to build on the knowledge you’ve acquired in your major and do an in-depth exploration of an issue or question that interests you.

Successful completion of the project demonstrates that you are prepared to learn and work on your own. But you will have help—a faculty member will serve as your committee chair and supervise the project from its inception to its completion. You should ask someone who has knowledge and expertise in your area of interest to serve as your chair. Usually this will be someone with whom you are already familiar, whose knowledge you respect, and with whom you get along.

A good research project requires self-discipline because it lacks the structure of a standard course. So that you and your chair will encounter as little confusion and misunderstanding as possible, the two of you should agree on important procedural matters before you begin work.

With that in mind, you need to draw up the specifics of the contract governing your work. When you have the contract completed and signed, you should bring a copy of it to the Honors Program Director. The contract must be returned by the third week of class.

Standards for the Senior Thesis

  • Sufficient and appropriate research to produce a written thesis. The finished project should show the student’s familiarity with research methods and tools in his or her specific discipline.
  • The topic should be sufficiently complex to justify honors credit and sufficiently narrow to be covered adequately.
  • The student should demonstrate an understanding of the issues involved in the topic and of appropriate ways to investigate that topic. The thesis should also show that the student understands the appropriate way of writing a scholarly essay in the particular discipline in which he or she has chosen to work.
  • The results of the project should be presented in a way that is accessible/understandable to people outside the discipline in which the research takes place. If necessary, a glossary of technical terms or disciplinary jargon should be included.
  • The thesis should be long enough to adequately develop the topic and to justify six hours of honors credit. Twenty pages (not including appendices, glossary, tables, graphs, or bibliography) should be regarded as the minimum length.


The Title Page should include the following:

Title of Paper

Student's name

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Month, Year

Name of Committee Chair

The Honors Thesis should answer a question posed by the student. It should present a well-reasoned argument for or against a particular position. It is expected that the student will do analysis and go beyond the mere summary of different points of view.

The Senior Thesis should include the following:

1. A clearly stated thesis (question to be answered) as well as a discussion of the significance of the topic.
2. A literature review that places your contribution within the context of a broader literature content.
3.  A discussion of methodology and research design. 
4.  A presentation and analysis of relevant data and information.
5. A clear statement of your conclusions (the resolution of the problem or the answer to the question). 
6.  A discussion of the implications of your findings.

Depending on the nature of your project and the discipline in which the research is being conducted, your thesis may not cover all of these elements. If you are excluding one, it should be clearly stated in your contract.

Honors Contact Information

Victoria Williams, Ph.D.

Director of Honors Program

Francis Hall 406



Honors Program