A Guide to Specialized Honors.

Everything Students and Faculty Advisors need to know before getting started.

Guidance for Faculty Advisors

The Specialized Honors Calendar and Guide should provide answers to most policy and procedural questions thesis writers and advisors have, but the following brief points are added here to assist thesis advisors with thesis planning, grading, and the defense. Thesis advisors can expect to receive frequent communication from the Director of Undergraduate Research about deadlines and events and should reach out with questions or concerns, at any time, to the Director of Undergraduate Research (bbarker@drew.edu).

  • Success in the thesis is highly dependent upon steady work on the thesis, both in the summer before the senior year and during that year itself. It is therefore useful for faculty advisors to meet students very early in the process (at the very latest at the very beginning of the fall semester) to lay out a schedule for the entire year, which should include several intermediate deadlines beyond those laid out in the calendarAn example of such a schedule can be found here, though faculty should adjust it to the project and to their specific disciplinary norms. There is also a high correlation between regular meetings between the advisor and student and success in the thesis.
  • The grade for your thesis advisee’s fall 410 course should be submitted electronically by you at the end of the fall semester, based on the guidelines laid out by the advisor and committee for the first semester, which usually includes the completion of the first chapter, detailed outline or some other product. The letter grade for 411 should be submitted electronically by you before the end of the senior grading period during the spring semester.
  • The procedure for the thesis defense, passed by the faculty during the 2015-16 academic year, is that the thesis advisor runs the defense and that the third reader fills out the assessment rubric, with input from the entire committee if they wish.
What are Specialized Honors?

Specialized Honors are awarded at graduation and noted on the diploma as “With Honors in (a specific field, fields, or interdisciplinary area).” This award indicates that you have:

  1. Written and successfully defended orally a substantive thesis on a topic within an academic discipline, disciplines, or interdisciplinary area.
  2. Submitted the completed thesis in proper form to the Library along with thesis ETD form
  3. Achieved an overall cumulative average of 3.4 or higher, and a cumulative average of 3.5 or higher in the courses included in the major or area.

Specialized Honors is one of three types of honors available for students. Students may also be a part of the Baldwin Honors program (one requirement of the Baldwin Honors program is the completion of Specialized Honors) or may earn Latin Honors based on their GPA according to the catalog. Students do not have to be a part of the Baldwin Honors program to earn Specialized Honors.

Eligibility for Specialized Honors

Each spring semester those students with junior class standing who have maintained a 3.4 grade point average overall will receive a letter of invitation from the Director of Undergraduate Research. You may do Specialized Honors work only in your last two semesters at Drew. To receive specialized honors at graduation, your grade point average must have reached 3.4 overall. You must also have a 3.5 grade point average in courses included in the major or area. If you do not meet the GPA requirements to begin an honors project, you may, with the strong support of your major department or program, petition the Honors Faculty Advisory Committee for permission to pursue Specialized Honors. (Contact Prof. Brianne Barker, Director of Undergraduate Research, for more information about submitting petitions to the Honors Faculty Advisory Committee.) However, if your petition is granted, you must meet the GPA requirements by graduation in order for Specialized Honors to be awarded.

Procedures for Eligible Candidates: Now what do I do? How do I register?

If you are eligible for Specialized Honors and are interested in writing a thesis, you should speak immediately to your advisor and/or to your department/program chair and discuss completing an honors thesis in your field. Your advisor or department/program chair will also inform you if your department or program has any additional requirements for students wishing to proceed with Specialized Honors. You should then discuss your proposed thesis topic with the faculty member you wish to ask to be your thesis advisor.

Before the Fall add/drop period ends (preferably during the spring registration period before the fall of your senior year) begin the registration process for 410 by filling out and submitting this online Specialized Honors request form: Specialized Honors Request Form. This will allow your registration for 410 with the Registrar’s Office.

You must also submit an Honors Application Form in order to be registered with the Specialized Honors program. When you return to campus in the Fall, have your honors application form (available in the “Forms” section of this website) signed by both the department/program chair and by your thesis advisor before the Fall add/drop period ends.

Application Form: What do I do with the signed form?

The application form should be submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Research no later than the end of the fall drop/add period of your senior year. The completed application, once signed by both your department/program chair and your thesis advisor, represents your nomination to participate in the Specialized Honors Program. A copy of the Application Form is available here and can also be picked up from the Director of Undergraduate Research.

410/411: How can I get credit for this project?

Students doing Specialized Honors enroll in Honors 410 for 4 credits in the fall and Honors 411 for 4 credits in the spring. Registration for Honors 410 or 411 for fewer than 4 credits may be allowed following petition of the Honors Faculty Advisory Committee, but it is not generally advised. If for some reason you cannot complete your honors thesis but your advisor feels that you have completed work adequate for credit, you may still receive credits for independent study. You may also receive independent study credit and a grade for your honors work if it is completed but judged not worthy of honors by your committee. Students who are graduating in December may complete a thesis starting in the spring of their junior year and should contact the Director of Undergraduate Research for more information.

In order to register for Hon 410 and Hon 411, fill out and submit this online Specialized Honors request form during the registration period for the semester in which you plan to register: Specialized Honors Request Form. This will allow your registration with the Registrar’s Office.

Selecting a Topic: What shall I write about?

You will be proposing a topic when you submit your application form. Discuss with your thesis advisor the topic which interests you as well as the scope, breadth, and depth appropriate for a thesis in your field. This proposed topic may be revised if you and your advisor consider it necessary as the work progresses. Included at the end of this guide is a listing of thesis topics to give you some idea of the variety of topics undertaken in the past. Thesis topics often develop from course or seminar papers or from independent study projects.

A thesis will not necessarily be expected to contain original research or a fresh contribution to knowledge. In your thesis, you will be expected, however, either to give fresh statement to a subject of intellectual importance in your field or to pursue an investigation of some magnitude and to report the significance of the findings to general knowledge in the area of investigation. A thesis may also be a creative project. Your thesis advisor can help you decide whether or not the topic/project you wish to propose is appropriate.

Writing the Thesis: How do I proceed?

Each discipline approaches research differently, so the most important part of beginning work on your thesis is to plan carefully in close consultation with your advisor. As your work proceeds, stay in regular touch with your advisor. You may want to arrange weekly or bi-weekly appointments with him/her to report on your progress, ask questions, or get feedback. Before you begin to write, discuss your outline or overall plan with your advisor and then, as you begin working on a draft, give your advisor sections for comment as you complete them. Also ask your advisor to recommend the style manual most commonly used in your discipline and use it as a guide for writing and documentation.

Your advisor can help you identify the major bibliographic and research tools in your field. The reference division of the University Library is also prepared to address the special research needs of honors candidates. You may want to make an appointment with a reference librarian for assistance when you are compiling a bibliography or research materials. The Interlibrary loan Office can secure materials for you from other libraries if they are not available in our library. In addition, many large research libraries are within easy commuting distance of Drew.

Selecting a Thesis Committee: Who will read my thesis?

Your thesis committee meets with you at committee meetings throughout the year, reads your thesis, and serves as the examining board at your oral defense. The committee consists of three members chosen by you:

  1. Your advisor
  2. A faculty reader from your department/program or from a different department but not necessarily a different division.
  3. A faculty reader from a different department but not necessarily a different division.

Early in the year, discuss the composition of your committee with your advisor. When you have decided on the committee and the faculty members have agreed to serve, have them sign the Honors Committee Form. Return the completed form to the Director of Undergraduate Research. Adjunct faculty are are not eligible to be thesis readers. Committees may not be accepted if they do not meet the criteria above.

Completing the Thesis: When is my thesis due?

There are a series of preliminary drafts that are due to the committee during the fall and spring semesters (please consult the Honors Calendar). After committee members have had time to look at the thesis, check with them for comments and then consult with your advisor about how to incorporate their comments and suggestions in the final draft.

The final defense draft of the thesis is due to your committee members at least one week before your defense. This is the draft on which your defense will be based.

Evaluation of the Thesis: What will my readers be looking for?

In evaluating your thesis, the committee will consider:

  1. the importance of the topic;
  2. the quality of the content;
  3. evidence of use of appropriate sources and reference materials;
  4. the cogency of argument;
  5. the validity of procedures;
  6. the quality of organization;
  7. the quality of writing;
  8. evidence of careful thought and creativity;
  9. the competence of the oral defense.
Oral Defense: When will it be? What will it be like?
  1. Making the arrangements
    It is your responsibility to schedule your defense, in consultation with your thesis advisor and based on this year’s Specialized Honors Calendar. After checking the time with all of your committee members, you should arrange a place for your oral defense by  emailing Matthew Dizinno, University Scheduler at mdizinno@drew.edu with your preferred room and start/end times. The defense is a public event and must be announced to the University community. The Defense Announcement Form – including your name, the final title of your thesis, and the time and place of the defense – must be emailed to the Director of Undergraduate Research (bbarker@drew.edu) ten days before the defense. She will announce defenses to the Drew community. You may make the arrangements to schedule your defense before you turn in your final draft..
  2. The Defense
    All members of your committee will attend the defense. Your thesis advisor acts as chair of the oral defense. Since this is a public event, you may invite family and friends. The defense lasts about an hour. Usually, the defense begins with a brief presentation by the honors candidate. In this presentation, you might discuss: your choice of topic, your approach to the topic, your research process, your findings, and the implications of your findings. You should plan this presentation in consultation with your thesis advisor. During the defense, the members of your committee will ask questions focusing on the content and method of the thesis and on its broader implications. At the end of the defense, you and everyone else who is not a member of the committee will be asked to leave the room while your committee discusses the defense and the thesis. The members of the committee then vote on whether the thesis is worthy of honors. The committee members make their evaluation on the basis of the thesis submitted, the year’s work of research, and the defense. Two of the three members of the committee must support the committee’s evaluation. The committee will come to one of the four following evaluations:

    a. the thesis is worthy of honors without revision
    b. the thesis is worthy of honors with minor revisions;
    c. the thesis may be worthy of honors after major revisions;
    d. the thesis is not worthy of honors.

    After the committee deliberates and votes, the chair will invite you back into the room and inform you of the result. If revisions are required, the committee will give you specific instructions about how to revise and will agree that either the advisor only should review the revised draft (usually the case for minor revisions) or that the whole committee must approve the revised draft (usually the case for major revisions).

The defense must be scheduled no sooner than 1 week after the date on which a final draft of the thesis is received by the Committee.

Submitting the Completed Thesis: When? Where? In what format?

After the defense, make any revisions or corrections requested and have the final draft reviewed by your advisor or committee. The Director of Undergraduate Research will inform you of the date, about one week before commencement, on which you must submit the revised thesis via email attachment to your thesis advisor by 5pm.

  1. Submit revised thesis to the library by 5pm:
    Send the thesis via email attachment to Guy Dobson, gdobson@drew.eduPlease copy your thesis advisor on the email.
    • Include a 200-500 word abstract of the thesis.
    • The thesis must be in PDF form.
  2. You must submit the EDT Release form by the same deadline.

You have not completed the requirements for Specialized Honors until this step has been completed. Only then will your Honors will be included in the commencement program and conferred at graduation.

Dropping Specialized Honors: What do I do if I can not or do not wish to finish my project?

If it becomes necessary for you to drop out of the Specialized Honors Program, the following deadlines must be observed:

  1. During Fall Drop/Add Period: Fill out an electronic drop/add form to drop 410.
  2. After the Fall Drop/Add Period: YouYou should consult with your advisor to determine whether to convert specialized honors project to an independent study or to drop the thesis (410) with a “W”. Use this form to convert the thesis to an independent study: https://drew.edu/academic/office-of-the-registrar/student-information-forms/individual-instruction-registration-request-for-cla/ Contact the Director of Undergraduate Research (Prof. Brianne Barker, bbarker@drew.edu) so that she can work with you, your thesis advisor, and the Registrar’s office on the process.
  3. During Spring Drop/Add Period: Fill out an electronic drop/add form to drop 411.
  4. After the Spring Drop/Add Period: You should consult with your advisor to determine whether to convert specialized honors project to an independent study or to drop the thesis (411) with a “W”. Use this form to convert the thesis to an independent study: https://drew.edu/academic/office-of-the-registrar/student-information-forms/individual-instruction-registration-request-for-cla/Contact the Director of Undergraduate Research (Prof. Brianne Barker, bbarker@drew.edu) so that she can work with you, your thesis advisor, and the Registrar’s office on the process.
Honors Calendar and Deadlines
Honors Thesis Format

PDF: Save your thesis in PDF format and email it to your thesis advisor.

Type-face: Theses must be double-spaced in 12 pt. font, ideally Times New Roman.

Margins: There must be left-hand margin and a right-hand margin of  1-inch. The top margin should be 1 inch, excluding the page number, and the bottom margin should be 1 1/2 inches from the end of the text or footnotes. Margins are to be maintained throughout the text of your thesis.

Page Numbering: Number pages throughout the text in Arabic numerals in the upper right-hand corner. Numbering begins with the first page of your text and continues through the bibliography and appendices. Pages for front matter (title page, dedication, abstract and table of contents) should not be numbered.

Footnotes: Footnotes may appear at the bottom of the page, the end of each chapter, or at the end of the text according to the style manual or specifications of your department or area.

Quotations: Quotations should follow the style manual or specifications of the department/program.

Bibliography: The bibliography should follow the style manual or specifications of the department/program.

Special Formatting: Art works, musical compositions, photographs, etc. may require special accommodations which should be decided on early in your work in consultation with your thesis adviser and the Systems Librarian.

The Abstract: A summary or abstract of 200-500 words must accompany the copy of the thesis which is deposited with the Reference Counter of the Library. This abstract should be included in the PDF immediately following the title page.

ETD Release Form: This form gives the library permission to post the PDF of your thesis on the library’s web site. Please fill out this online ETD Release form.

Contents: The thesis should contain the following sections:

  1. Dedication and/or Introduction (if desired)
  2. Title Page
  3. Un-numbered Abstract
  4. Table of Contents
  5. Text of the Thesis
  6. Bibliography
  7. Appendices (if appropriate)
Sample Title Page

Drew University
College of Liberal Arts

The Spirit of the Nation:
The Young Ireland Movement

A Thesis in History


Brian Boardingham

Submitted in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements
for the Degree of
Bachelor in Arts
With Specialized Honors in History

May 1985

Past Thesis Titles: A Selection

The Significance of the Masses of Dufay to the History of Renaissance and Sacred Music

The Role of Black Americans in the American Foreign Policy Apparatus

The Snake in Ancient Art

The Vietnam Film in Popular Culture

Future of the Intelligence Agencies in the Post-Cold War Period

Behavioral and Physiological Effects of a Vitamin E Deficiency in Rats

The New York Legal Aid Strike: A Multi-Disciplinary Strike

Jung’s Image of God

An Economic Analysis of Canadian Health Insurance

Karl Marx and the Paris Commune

Preparation of Imidazole, Benzodioxane, and Cyclic Guanidine Derivatives and Examination of Their Biological Activity

La técnica narrativa en dos novelas de Mario Vargas Llosa: La tía tula y el escribidor y Pantaleón y los visitadores

Rimbaud, La naissance d’un nouveau langage poètique

Mazinodol Analogs as Potential Inhibitors of the Cocaine Binding Sites

The Attribution of Guilt in Rape Cases

Europe’s Role in the Post-Cold War Transatlantic Security Relationship

Kinship and the State: An African-American Family 1880-1994