Successful Honors theses begin with good planning early in an undergraduate’s career. While students may not identify a specific project until the junior year, those who engage with faculty, ideas, and research throughout the Honors experience are better prepared for this culminating experience. Students who delay their thesis project, or who try to squeeze it in at the end, often fail to meet deadlines and are unable to graduate with University Honors. We encourage students to follow this general timeline:
Freshman Year – Explore Options
Students should pay attention to courses, topics and fields that pique their interest. We encourage students to participate in a wide variety of activities and events, and to get to know faculty in their major, explore research programs and opportunities, and talk to more advanced Honors students about their thesis experiences.
Sophomore Year – Get Involved
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to look for opportunities as research assistants, teaching assistants, or lab assistants. Students can talk to faculty in their departments, meet with Honors Coordinators, and actively seek ways to become involved in research or projects. Other students join clubs, service groups, honors societies in their majors, or participate in Leadership Development experiences, internships, or study abroad programs.
Junior Year – Identify Thesis Project, Submit Proposal and Begin Research
During their third (or second to last) year, students narrow and identify their thesis project. They work closely with the Honors Program and faculty thesis committee to develop, write, and submit a proposal. Students then begin their thesis research in earnest.
Junior/Senior Year – Thesis Research, Writing, Defense and Publication
Once a thesis proposal is approved, the student begins work on their thesis project. Thesis projects include extensive research, and may also involve travel, interviews, survey data, etc. Students are advised to follow a detailed timeline with interim steps and checkpoints, and to coordinate regularly with their advisor throughout the research and writing period. Typically, students spend two to three semesters completing the project and revising multiple drafts of the written thesis. Students must then complete a successful oral defense, create and present a thesis poster, and submit the final approved thesis for publication.