Frequently Asked Questions
MAY I BEGIN A THESIS IN MY SENIOR YEAR IF I DO NOT HAVE A 3.5 GPA IN MY MAJOR?
Yes, but you must petition the Honors Faculty Advisory Committee before you begin and 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.
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.
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.
- 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 advisors before their departure and communicated with their advisors by e-mail during the fall semester.
- 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 Faculty Advisory 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 and Gender 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 Faculty Advisory 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. These documents can be conveyed to the Honors Faculty Advisory Committee by the Director of Undergraduate Research (Prof. Brianne Barker, firstname.lastname@example.org).
IF I AM A DOUBLE MAJOR, MAY I DO TWO HONORS THESES? OR MAY I DO ONE HONORS THESIS IN BOTH MAJORS?
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:
- complete one thesis that incorporates your two disciplines; this option requires you to have co-advisors from each of your majors (one advisor per major) and a third reader outside of both departments and for your co-advisors to send a message to the Director of Undergraduate Research (email@example.com) approving this choice;
- choose between the major departments and do one thesis in one of your two departments;
- 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 FACULTY ADVISORY COMMITTEE?
Honors candidate may petition the Honors Faculty Advisory 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 advisor or department. Petitions are granted only when the Committee sees compelling reasons for the change. Petitions can be conveyed to the Honors Faculty Advisory Committee by the Director of Undergraduate Research (Prof. Brianne Barker, firstname.lastname@example.org).
CAN I GET ADDITIONAL LIBRARY PRIVILEGES AS AN HONORS CANDIDATE?
CLA honors students are eligible to apply for an assigned locker after October 15th.
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. The amount of credit you receive for your work depends on how much work you have completed and should be worked out with your thesis advisor.
DOES MY REGULAR DEPARTMENTAL ADVISOR HAVE TO BE MY THESIS ADVISOR?
No, you should choose a thesis advisor 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 will give the reader your draft on the appropriate due dates and meet with them at committee meetings. When you ask faculty members to be on your committee, you should discuss this issue with them.
WHAT IF I HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT MY THESIS COMMITTEE?
Students who have any concerns about their thesis committee can seek assistance from the Director of Undergraduate Research (Prof. Brianne Barker, email@example.com), who can intervene on their behalf in Thesis Committee discussions. Students also have the right to appeal Thesis Committee decisions to the Committee on Academic Standing.
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. The documentation style you use should be the one which is used most commonly in your discipline. Ask your thesis advisor what style that is and what style manual the department recommends that you use.