Guidelines for Writing an Honors Thesis

General Guidelines for Writing an Honors Thesis and Achieving Senior Honors Scholar Status

Completing the Honors Program requires students to complete 21 hours of Honors coursework, but occasionally students are intrigued when they see that they can also earn the distinction of “Senior Honors Scholar” simply by taking two more Honors classes (for a total of 27 hours) and writing a thesis, which is worth 3 credit hours. As a result, every year a few students come into the Honors office and inquire about doing the Honors thesis, but rarely, if ever, do students actually attempt it. The main reason is because writing a thesis is a lot of extra work. Writing a thesis is a great accomplishment, especially for an undergraduate, and the vast majority of our graduate students at this university, given the option, don’t write a thesis either. But if you think you have what it takes to truly distinguish yourself from the roughly 800 students in the program who probably won’t write a thesis, read on. The guidelines follow.


  1. First of all, if you’re thinking about doing this, know what you are getting into. A thesis is a lot of work for you, your director, and your committee, as it is roughly a thirty-page paper that should be your scholarly contribution to your discipline. Writing a thesis means meeting deadlines and doing research at a level most undergraduates are not used to quite yet. It also means writing and rewriting and rewriting again. Make sure you are ready for a project of this magnitude.
  2. You should probably be thinking about going to graduate school if you plan on writing a thesis. If you want to write a thesis simply because you think it will be fun, think again. However, if you plan on going to graduate school at some point, writing an undergraduate thesis may actually help you prepare for the process of writing a graduate thesis or dissertation later on.
  3. Make sure you can work with your director. You must get a faculty member to agree to direct your thesis, and it should be someone who knows you well enough to want to work with you. Most faculty members stay busy teaching and with their own research, so if someone agrees to work with you they are doing you a very big favor. They don’t get release time or extra pay for doing this, so keep that in mind.

Above all, if you are considering doing this, it is not something you walk into the office and sign up for the quarter you plan on doing it. If you want to take the hours in the spring, come into the office in the fall prior to that and we’ll start to discuss it. After we’ve discussed it, and you have picked a director and committee, the next step is to write a proposal. An example may be found here.

I hope this list will answer many of your questions, and feel free to come by the Honors Office if you have any others.