The What and Why

What is an Honors Thesis?

The culmination of the Honors Bachelors degree, the Honors Thesis is a significant undergraduate research project completed under the supervision of a faculty member approved by the Honors Faculty Advisor in the student’s major. Its purpose is to advance knowledge and understanding within the context of a research university and to further develop the student’s intellectual, professional and personal growth as a member of the Honors College. Thesis projects may take different forms in different majors – e.g. laboratory experiments, historical research or artistic creations, to name a few – but always demonstrate research expertise in the major field, a command of relevant scholarship and an effort to contribute to that scholarship.

Why should I write an Honors Thesis?

Whether you’re committed to working in your major field, or keeping your options open, completing an Honors Thesis gives you the experience to help you get where you want to go.

  • Gain real research experience in your field and learn how to communicate it.
  • Tackle and own a project that you’re passionate about.
  • Stretch yourself intellectually through close work with a faculty expert.

And the practical value of an Honors Thesis? Unlimited. An Honors Thesis helps you to:

  • Get accepted to grad school, medical school, law school Competitive programs greatly value research experience and the motivation, maturity, and depth of study required to complete a thesis.
  • Find a job. Employers, in your field or outside it, seek candidates with the commitment and practical skills required to complete an independent project.
  • Figure out your path. Do you even like research in your major? Or are you ready to try something else?

Who Approves Honors Thesis Topics?

Each department defines the appropriate topics, parameters and standards of Honors thesis research. Faculty outside of the major may supervise thesis projects with the approval of the Honors Faculty Advisor in the student’s major. Topics might be developed out of faculty research, coursework, class projects, UROP projects, community engaged research or even internships. The required Thesis Proposal Form must be signed by both the Thesis Faculty Mentor and the Honors Faculty Advisor within the student’s major. Take a look at our general Thesis Guidelines.

How long is an Honors Thesis?

There is no uniform required length for Honors theses, which vary widely across different fields and topics. However, a range of 30-40 pages is common. Honors Faculty Advisors in each major and the Faculty Supervisor will set specific expectations. See examples of theses from your major here.