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:
- Table of Contents
- List of Tables and Figures
- Discussion or Analysis
- References, Bibliography or Literature Review