The capstone experience of the Honors Program spans students’ final three semesters and consists of 1) the development of an Honors Thesis Proposal, 2) the execution of the proposed project, and 3) the submission of an acceptable Honors Thesis. It is, in effect, a 7-credit, 3-semester requirement. A written narrative in the format appropriate to the respective discipline should accompany even those projects that involve creative works. A copy of the completed thesis will be bound, cataloged, and archived in the University Library.
During the Fall semester of their junior year, students should begin working on their thesis proposal. One of the initial steps in this process is to identify a Thesis Advisor/Mentor. The thesis mentor must be a permanent, full-time instructional faculty member in the department of your academic major. Students can identify a thesis topic/problem in a variety of ways. Although not required, it is recommended that students register for HON 400 – Honors Research and Writing, a one-credit seminar intended to provide a structured forum for students to discuss ideas, ask questions, and to learn of research strategies representative of different disciplines. Second, a student might choose to conduct an Independent Study of a topic that has the potential to be expanded into a thesis project. Third, students can independently meet with different faculty members to discuss potential thesis topics, review thesis proposals and theses that have been completed by past students, or interview students currently working on their Honors Theses.
Toward the end of the semester students should register for HON 380 – Directed Honors Research (BIO majors will register for BIO 488). This course is typically taken during the Spring semester of a student’s junior year. The registration form for this course is obtained from the Program Director. The completed form, with all required signatures, must be received in the appropriate Academic Dean’s office by the end of the 2nd week of the semester in which the course is to be taken. Note that both the student and faculty mentor must complete the back of the form. It is critical that the mentor acknowledge that the proposed topic has the potential to yield a proposal of sufficient rigor without being inappropriately difficult.
Following registration for HON 380, each student is assigned a Second Reader. The Second Reader is a member of the University Honors Council who provides additional input on how to improve the clarity and/or quality of the student’s proposal. The identity of each student’s Second Reader is available on the Honors Program website. An acceptable thesis proposal must have the endorsement of both the Thesis Mentor and Second Reader.
Thesis Proposals should be well conceptualized and contain sufficient clarity and detail to enable students and faculty of other disciplines to understand the focus of your project and how you intend to accomplish it. Although other formats appropriate to the discipline or to the nature of a “creative” project are acceptable, proposals generally reflect the following format:
- Title Page — A downloadable or printable copy of the required format for the “Thesis Proposal Title Page” is available here. The final copy of the Thesis Proposal submitted to the Program Director must bear this title page with the required signatures. The signatures of the Thesis Mentor and Honors Council Member on the title page indicate that in their opinions the proposed thesis project is of sufficient rigor to merit Honors distinction and can be completed during the next two semesters.
- Introduction/Review of the Literature— This section includes the following: 1) a clear statement of the question to be addressed and/or hypothesis(es) to be tested, 2) framed within a discussion of the broader issue that provides relevance to your specific objective, including 3) a substantive review of the published literature relevant to your topic. This part of the proposal may be one section, with an integrated Introduction and Literature Review, or partitioned into two sections with the Literature Review being separate. The preference here will be determined by the format that is generally preferred in specific disciplines.
- Methods— This portion of the proposal details how the proposed research/creative work is to be accomplished, i.e. laboratory/field procedures, library work, stages in the creative project, etc. Pay particular attention to the definition of variables, showing how the described methods will address the specific question(s) being addressed.
- Results— Keep in mind that if the results of your project are known before the research is completed, the proposal will be unacceptable. However, the anticipated results of your project should be summarized in this section. For analytical projects, a brief summary of how alternative results will be interpreted would be helpful. If a creative project is proposed, a description of your anticipated work would be appropriate.
- Literature Cited/References — Depending on the discipline, your proposal should contain either a “Literature Cited” section or a “References” section. Keep in mind that the above headings have different connotations. The citation format should reflect that which is appropriate for the discipline.
Students are required to give a 5 – 10 minute presentation of their respective thesis proposals. This presentation is generally scheduled for the last week of April and is given to University Honors Council members, thesis mentors, fellow proposal presenters, and Honors sophomores. Both your Thesis Mentor and Second Reader should have reviewed your proposal prior to this presentation (see Schedule and Due Dates Section). After effecting required revisions a final copy of the Thesis Proposal is to be submitted to the Program Director (refer to Schedule and Due Dates Section for submission date). Failure to meet this requirement places your status in the University Honors Program in jeopardy.
Honors students conducting their thesis research must be registered for HON 488 – Honors Thesis. The registration form for this course is available from the Program Director. Students typically register for HON 488 for 2 credits each semester of their senior year, but this allocation of the 4-credit requirement can be altered pending consultation with the Program Director. Registration for HON 488 for the Fall semester should be completed prior to the end of the preceding spring semester; registration for HON 488 for the Spring semester should be completed prior to the end of the preceding Fall semester. Again, the completed registration form must be received in the appropriate Academic Dean’s office by the end of the 2nd week of the semester in which the course is to be taken.
Thesis research is typically conducted during the summer preceding the Senior year or during the Fall semester of the Senior year. The Spring semester of the Senior year should be dedicated to writing and revising the thesis. (Refer to the Schedule and Due Dates Section for specific due dates). The Honors Thesis Approval Form should accompany the copy of the thesis submitted to the Thesis Mentor. This form is available from the Program Director. Once the Thesis Mentor has approved the thesis, a copy of the thesis and the Honors Thesis Approval Form (bearing the signature of the Thesis Mentor) should be delivered to the assigned Second Reader. The due date for submission of the thesis to the Second Reader (specified in the Schedule and Due Dates Section) must be met if the student wishes to be recognized as an Honors Scholar at the Spring Graduation Commencement.
The final copy of the Honors Thesis submitted to the Program Director must bear the standard Honors Thesis Title Page. (Note: This is not the same title page as that of the Thesis Proposal.) This title page should bear the signatures of the Thesis Mentor and Second Reader. The Thesis Approval Form should accompany the Thesis but not be attached to it, and should indicate the approval of the Thesis Mentor and Second Reader, as well as the date and venue of the thesis presentation.
For most students the format of the Honors Thesis will be the same as that of the Thesis Proposal, with the exception that a Discussion section will follow the Results section. In some disciplines the Results/Discussion section may be integrated. For those students whose thesis involves a creative project, your “creative product” is really your “Results“, so the Discussion portion of your narrative will be a reflection on the experience of completing your project.
- Attend the presentation of the thesis proposals during the final week of April.
Develop ideas for a thesis and discuss them with prospective advisors via one or more of the following:
- Registering for an Independent Study or a departmental course designed to prepare students to conduct research in the respective discipline.
- Registering for HON 400 — Honors Research and Writing.
- Interviewing individual faculty members, reading past thesis proposals and theses, working with an Honors student currently conducting their research.
Toward the end of the semester register for HON 380 — Directed Honors Research (3 credits)
- HON 380 Registration Form can be obtained from the Program Director; the completed form requires the signatures of your Thesis Advisor, the Honors Program Director, and the appropriate Academic Dean.
- The completed form must be submitted within the first two weeks of the Spring semester.
Successfully complete HON 380
- Completion of an acceptable Honors Thesis Proposal.
- Following your advisor’s approval of an initial draft, submit a copy of your proposal to your Honors Council Reader.
- Meet with your Honors Council Reader to discuss your proposal, preferably before your oral presentation, but definitely before the end of the semester.
- Oral presentation of your proposed project during the final week of April.
- Submission of two copies of your Thesis Advisor-approved proposal to the Honors Program Director.
Register for HON 488 — Honors Thesis (generally for 2 credits).
- HON 488 Registration Form can be obtained from the Program Director; the form has the same signatory and submission requirements as described above.
Review your Thesis Proposal with your Second Reader within the first two weeks of the semester, if you have not already done so during the summer.
- Successfully complete HON 488.
- Meet regularly with your Thesis Advisor.
- Make satisfactory progress on your thesis project by completing the work described on your HON 488 Course Registration Form.
- Register for HON 488 — Honors Thesis (generally for 2 credits
- HON 488 Registration Form is available from the Program Director; the form has the same signatory and submission requirements as described above.
Review progress on your thesis with your Second Reader during the first two weeks of the semester.
- Successfully complete HON 488.
- Complete your Honors Thesis.
- Preliminary draft of your Honors Thesis delivered to your Thesis Advisor by March 15.
- Deliver a copy of your approved thesis to your Second Reader. The Honors Thesis Approval Form should be attached to this copy, bearing the signature of your Thesis Advisor.
- Present your thesis work in an appropriate venue: a class, the annual Eastern Student Research Conference, or any other conference or approved occasion.
- Deliver a final copy of your approved thesis to the Program Director. The format for the required “Honors Thesis Title Page” is available here. The title page should bear the signatures of your Thesis Advisor and your Second Reader (Honors Council Member) when delivered to the Program Director.