May I enter Honors 397 or begin a thesis in my senior year if I do not have a 3.5 GPA in my major?

Yes, but you must have achieved the 3.5 GPA in your major by the time you graduate.  It is a good idea to try to estimate your senior GPA to see if it is possible to achieve the 3.5 by graduation.

May I do an Honors Thesis if I have not taken Honors 397?

Honors 397, the Pre-Honors Colloquium, is not required for honors candidates but it, or an appropriate departmental research course, is highly recommended.

Is it possible to do an Honors thesis if I plan to graduate a semester early?

The honors regulations state that students may do an honors thesis only in their last two semesters.  If you plan to graduate early, you may begin work on an honors thesis in the spring of your junior year.  You may also enroll in Honors 397 during that semester as the course will help you proceed with your honors work.

Is it possible to do an Honors thesis if I plan to study abroad in the fall of my senior year?

Students studying abroad in the fall of their senior year have taken one of two approaches to specialized honors work, both of which are acceptable to the Honors Committee. Honors 397 is highly recommended for these students.

  1. They have chosen thesis topics which are related to the work they will do during the study abroad experience.  They have then planned with their chosen advisers before their departure and communicated with their advisers by e-mail during the fall semester.
  2. When students wish to do a thesis on a topic not closely related to the study abroad experience, they have begun their honors work in the spring of their junior years, continued the work as they could through the summer and fall, and completed their work upon their return to campus in the spring semester of the senior year.  This plan creates a more fragmented thesis experience and is possible but probably not ideal.

May I pursue an honors thesis in my minor area?

While most students pursue honors theses in the major field or area, the Honors Committee has approved requests from students to pursue a thesis in a minor field, particularly when that is an interdisciplinary area (Jewish Studies, Latin American Studies, African-American/African Studies, Women’s Studies, etc.) and the student plans to take an interdisciplinary approach in the thesis, drawing on the skills and knowledge base of both the major and minor areas.  If you wish to propose such a thesis, you should write a letter petitioning the Honors Committee for permission; it should be accompanied by a letter of support from a faculty member in the area in which you are proposing to work.

If I am a double major, may I do two honors theses?

Honors regulations say that you may only do one honors thesis. Double majors have petitioned the Honors Committee requesting permission to do two theses. These petitions have in general been denied. The Honors Committee has usually recommended one of three alternatives:

  1. complete one thesis that incorporates your two disciplines, expanding your thesis committee to include two representatives from each of the sponsoring departments;
  2. choose between the major departments and do one thesis in one of your two departments;
  3. in some particular cases, complete a thesis in your interdisciplinary minor when it suitably bridges the two majors (e.g. a Spanish and Political Science double major completes a thesis in her minor, Latin American Studies)

May I do a creative thesis (novel, play, work of art, musical composition or performance)?

Creative theses are permitted for majors who have focused in creative or performance areas. Creative theses must be accompanied by a substantial essay explaining the goals and process of the project. In some cases, departments have an additional process for review and approval of creative theses. If you are thinking of completing such a project, check with your department chair during the spring of your junior year. Substantial prior work in the area is generally the expectation of students completing creative theses.

How do I petition the Honors Committee?

Honors candidate may petition the Honors Committee for permission to proceed with a thesis in some way not directly covered by the guidelines (change of structure, schedule, or field). In most cases, a petition should include a letter from the student explaining the request and the reasons behind it and a letter of support from the thesis adviser or department. Petitions are granted only when the Committee sees compelling reasons for the change.

Can I get extended library privileges as an honors candidate?

The library extends “term” privileges to honors candidates which allow you to check books out of the library for the semester, rather than just for four weeks.  The Circulation Desk will have a list of Honors Candidates by the end of the Fall Drop/Add Period, at which time you may apply for these privileges.

What happens if I proceed with the thesis and I don’t achieve a 3.5 major GPA by graduation?

You will not receive specialized honors at graduation, but you can still receive credit for your work as an independent study.  Whether you receive 4 credits or 8 credits for your work depends on how much work you have completed and should be worked out with your thesis adviser.

What should I do if I do not plan to or cannot complete my thesis work?

If you are enrolled in 397, 410 or 411, you must drop that course either by submitting a regular drop form to the Registrar’s Office during the Drop/Add period or, if it is after the Drop/Add period, by petitioning academic standing.  Obtain a petition form in the Registrar’s Office and have it signed both by your thesis adviser and the Director of the Honors Program. If you wish to convert the credits to independent study credit, consult with your thesis adviser about how many credits (4 or 8) are appropriate for the amount of work you have completed. If you are not enrolled in an Honors course, it is still very important that you inform both your adviser and the Director of the Honors Program that you do not plan to proceed with you thesis work.

Does my regular departmental adviser have to be my thesis adviser?

No, you should choose a thesis adviser because he or she has expertise in the area you are working in and/or because you believe that you will work well with that particular faculty member.

How involved should my second and third readers be in the thesis process?  Should I just give them the thesis at the end?

The degree of involvement of second and third readers depends largely on your reasons for asking them to be on your committee.  If you’ve asked a reader to participate because you hope to draw on her/his expertise in a particular content area or methodology, you will probably want that reader to be involved in reading and discussion of the thesis before the final draft.  In other cases, you may just want to give the reader your draft on the appropriate due dates.  When you ask faculty members to be on your committee, you should discuss this issue with them.

When and how will the Honors Committee member who chairs my defense be assigned?

The Chair of the Honors Committee will makes these assignments after you have submitted your committee form.  Your chair will be a faculty member outside of your academic division (e.g. a faculty member from outside the sciences will be assigned to science theses).

Does the Honors Committee have special requirements about the format of the final thesis or about the documentation style (footnotes etc.) that I use?

The Honors Committee has some specific formatting requirements which are indicated in the Guide to Specialized Honors.  These are mainly to meet the library’s requirements for binding of the thesis.  The documentation style you use should be the one which is used most commonly in your discipline.  Ask your thesis adviser what style that is and what style manual the department recommends that you use.