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Essential Elements of an Honors Thesis

Content and sections within an Honors thesis will vary by individual disciplines and fields; however, there are common characteristics and required elements to all Honors theses:

  • Substantial written component: As a significant piece of undergraduate research, quality matters more than length - which varies widely across different fields.  The thesis should make a substantial contribution to the student’s chosen discipline.   However, a minimum of 30 pages (excluding appendices and sources) is expected for most Honors theses. Creative projects require 15-20 pages of written analysis or background to accompany the creative work.
  • Advanced level work that focuses on an explicit thesis: a question to be answered, a problem to be solved, an analysis of central issues, or a position to be explained;
  • Self-directed, original research or creative work;
  • Incorporates previous study and learning; may build or expand on capstone projects or senior papers, but moves beyond typical expectations;
  • Documentation according to professional standards in the field;
  • Demonstrates mastery of a specific subject matter, familiarity with practices and conventions in a discipline, and qualifications for future independent work;
  • Superior undergraduate work that merits publication, presentation, or distribution beyond the campus community;
  • Public presentation, including oral thesis defense, poster session, and publication.  Culminating presentations at appropriate professional meetings or academic conferences are strongly encouraged.

A scholarly Honors thesis typically includes:

  • Abstract
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables and Figures
  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion or Analysis
  • Conclusion
  • Appendices
  • References, Bibliography or Literature Review