The Road to an Honors Thesis

The Road to an Honors Thesis

Check items as completed; fill in information as needed. (This is intended as a guide, NOT as a "script." )

  1. Attend a Thesis Workshop (required for Sophomores; held each semester).
  2. Take a look at past theses available in Franklin House or in the McNairy Library and Learning Forum.
  3. Choose an area of interest.
  4. Make a "contract" with an advisor. Be sure your advisor will be available when you plan to complete your project.
  5. Develop/choose a preliminary question/creative task/analytic problem.  Ask your advisor if there is any research going on in your department or in his/her lab that you can build upon.
  6. Ask yourself: do I have the skills/background knowledge needed to complete this project? Consult with your advisor about courses/experiences to acquire necessary skills/knowledge.
  7. Determine whether you will need financial support to complete the project you are interested in. Investigate grants possibilities (e.g. Neimyer-Hodgson Grants, Undergraduate Research Committee Grants).
  8. Register for HNRS 489, Independent Study - Honors Thesis. The form is available from the Honors College in Franklin House or your academic department.  You cannot register for the thesis online. It is a special paper registration process that must be signed by your thesis advisor, academic advisor, and your department chairperson.
  9. Submit a Thesis Prospectus form to Franklin House.  Your thesis advisor must sign this form. 
  10. "Read" all about it!!  Conduct a literature search on your topic. Review professional journals. Make sure to keep a listing of sources "checked out".  You are not alone; be sure to consult your Librarian.  Library staff can help you all along the process of working on your thesis.   Library staff can help you all along the process of working on your thesis.
  11. Reframe/revise your question/task/problem as needed based on preliminary investigation.
  12. Develop a written thesis proposal. This should include
    • Introduction/statement of interest
    • Statement of the problem/task/question, etc.
    • Background/context/review of literature (An annotated bibliography may be substituted here based on the preference of the thesis advisor.)
    • Method/procedure/process
  13. Select a thesis committee of three faculty members.  One of the three members will be your thesis advisor.  One thesis committee member must represent the Honors College (see list on this website). One committee member must represent the Honors College. One committee member could be outside of your department, but does not need to be.  All three members might be (but do not have to be) in your academic department.  Consult your thesis advisor and possibly the Honors College Director.  If you are having difficulty finding a faculty member from the Honors College list who is appropriate for your committee, consult the Honors Director.
  14. Set a proposal defense date with all committee members.  (this step will vary depending on your thesis advisor's requirements for your thesis).
  15. Defend your thesis proposal to fulfill the requirements for HNRS 489.
  16. Begin in earnest with your inquiry/data gathering/creative activity.
  17. Register for HNRS 499, Thesis. This is also done with a special paper process and cannot be done online.  Pick up the form at the Honors College office or in your academic department.
  18. Write a draft of your paper which includes your intro, methods, results and discussion.   Share with your thesis advisor, and when your thesis advisor thinks your draft is ready, to your  committee members.  Revise your work, submit the next draft....repeat as needed.  Writing a thesis is a process and requires numerous drafts that should be reviewed by your advisor (and possibly your committee members).  For assistance with formatting and citing sources, consult your librarian.                                                                                                                                     18a.  For assistance with copyright concerns (e.g., charts, diagrams, etc.), contact Krista Higham, copyright Librarian.
  19. Set defense date and location.
  20. Inform the Honors College Office of your defense date and location.
  21. Incorporate committee feedback into defensible version of your thesis.
  22. Provide committee members with "clean copy" (appropriately formatted, proofread, fully referenced, etc.) at least ten (10) days prior to your defense date.
  23. Defend your thesis.
  24. Revise/improve as required by your committee.
  25. Obtain committee signatures following successful revision. You must develop your own signature page with the names of your committee members so you can get signatures.
  26. Deliver two clean, unbound, single-sided copies (including Cover Page, Signature Sheet and Abstract) to Franklin House at least two weeks prior to your expected graduation date. One copy is bound and kept on file in Franklin House. The other copy is bound and available in the library.  Also submit a PDF with the signature page via email to the Honors College.
  27. Receive appropriate cord(s) (Purple = University Honors, Green = Departmental Honors) when you pick up your graduation regalia.

Honors College Student Handbook

Click below to view the Honors College handbook.

Learn More