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Write and Submit a Thesis Proposal

After a faculty member has agreed to serve as a thesis advisor, the student should meet with them to narrow the topic or research question to a manageable scope, and identify an appropriate hypothesis or thesis question. Both student and advisor may need to be flexible and willing to explore options before settling on a specific area of research; however, it is up to the thesis advisor (not the student) to determine if a topic shows sufficient depth and promise for an Honors thesis based on Honors Program guidelines and discipline-specific standards. The student then works with their advisor to write a thesis proposal; this may require multiple drafts before the advisor and student agree it is ready for review by the other thesis committee members. Students and committee members should refer to the Honors Thesis Proposal Guidelines for proposal requirements. Sample thesis proposals are available here.

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

The faculty advisor and other committee members should also determine whether Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval is required for the project and submit the appropriate application on behalf of the student. If a project warrants IRB review, approval must be obtained prior to submitting the thesis proposal and the IRB number included in the written proposal. Students and faculty advisors must comply with all university IRB guidelines and policies, including requisite CITI training. Refer to the university IRB website for training, application, and additional resources ( If students plan to conduct surveys as part of the research process, they must also comply with BYU Survey Policy.

Academic Freedom Policy

Honors theses and their authors are subject to the BYU Academic Freedom Policy. Individual freedom of expression is broad, presumptive, and essentially unrestrained except for matters that seriously and adversely affect the University mission or the Church. Every university places some limitations on academic freedom, and at BYU reasonable limitations are in place for behavior or expression that:

  • contradicts or opposes, rather than analyzes or discusses, fundamental Church doctrine or policy;
  • deliberately attacks or derides the Church or its general leaders; or
  • violates the Honors Code because the expression is dishonest, illegal, unchaste, profane, or unduly disrespectful of others.

Submit Proposal

Once all thesis committee members have reviewed the proposal and the student has completed any required revisions, committee members sign the Proposal Submission Form and the student submits the form, with a complete copy of the proposal, to the Honors Program office (102 MSRB) for Executive Committee review and approval. Proposals may be submitted with IRB pending. Do not wait to turn in a proposal after completing a project or major portion of it. Proposals should be submitted beforehand.  The Honors Program will notify the student and thesis committee with approval – typically within two weeks of submission.

Honors Policy Note: The Honors Program will accept email approvals (in lieu of handwritten signatures) from thesis committee members on any applicable forms only if the email is sent directly to Honors Program personnel.  Approvals must not be forwarded by the student.  All email correspondence pertaining to Honors theses must include the student’s full name and preferably Net ID.  Specific language required is noted in the relevant form. (Adopted 7/2/19)