OVERVIEW - The capstone experience of the Honors Program spans students' final three semesters and consists of 1) the development of an Honors Thesis Proposal, 2) the execution of the proposed project, and 3) the submision of an acceptable Honors Thesis. It is, in effect, a 7-credit, 3-semester requirement. A written narrative in the format appropriate to the respective discipline should accompany even those projects that involve creative works. A copy of the completed thesis will be bound, catalogued, and archived in the University Library.

During the Fall semester of their junior year, students should begin working on their thesis proposal. One of the initial steps in this process is to identify a Thesis Advisor/Mentor. The thesis mentor must be a permanent, full-time instructional faculty member in the department of your academic major. Students can identify a thesis topic/problem in a variety of ways. Although not required, it is recommended that students register for HON 400 - Honors Research and Writing, a one-credit seminar intended to provide a structured forum for students to discuss ideas, ask questions, and to learn of research strategies representative of different disciplines. Second, a student might choose to conduct an Independent Study of a topic that has the potential to be expanded into a thesis project. Third, students can independently meet with different faculty members to discuss potential thesis topics, review thesis proposals and theses that have been completed by past students, or interview students currently working on their Honors Theses.

Toward the end of the semester students should register for HON 380 - Directed Honors Research (BIO majors will register for BIO 488). This course is typically taken during the Spring semester of a student's junior year. The registration form for this course is obtained from the Program Director. The completed form, with all required signatures, must be received in the appropriate Academic Dean's office by the end of the 2nd week of the semester in which the course is to be taken. Note that both the student and faculty mentor must complete the back of the form. It is critical that the mentor acknowledge that the proposed topic has the potential to yield a proposal of sufficient rigor without being inappropriately difficult.

Following registration for HON 380, each student is assigned a Second Reader. The Second Reader is a member of the University Honors Council who provides additional input on how to improve the clarity and/or quality of the student's proposal. The identity of each student's Second Reader is available on the Honors Program website. An acceptable thesis proposal must have the endorsement of both the Thesis Mentor and Second Reader.

Thesis Proposals should be well conceptualized and contain sufficient clarity and detail to enable students and faculty of other disciplines to understand the focus of your project and how you intend to accomplish it. Although other formats appropriate to the discipline or to the nature of a "creative" project are acceptable, proposals generally reflect the following format:

1. Title Page A downloadable or printable copy of the required format for the "Thesis Proposal Title Page" is available here. The final copy of the Thesis Proposal submitted to the Program Director must bear this title page with the required signatures. The signatures of the Thesis Mentor and Honors Council Member on the title page indicate that in their opinions the proposed thesis project is of sufficient rigor to merit Honors distinction and can be completed during the next two semesters.


2. Introduction/Review of the Literature — This section includes the following: 1) a clear statement of the question to be addressed and/or hypothesis(es) to be tested, 2) framed within a discussion of the broader issue that provides relevance to your specific objective, including 3) a substantive review of the published literature relevant to your topic. This part of the proposal may be one section, with an integrated Introduction and Literature Review, or partitioned into two sections with the Literature Review being separate. The preference here will be determined by the format that is generally preferred in specific disciplines.

3. Methods — This portion of the proposal details how the proposed research/creative work is to be accomplished, i.e. laboratory/field procedures, library work, stages in the creative project, etc. Pay particular attention to the definition of variables, showing how the described methods will address the specific question(s) being addressed.

4. Results —  Keep in mind that if the results of your project are known before the research is completed, the proposal will be unacceptable. However, the anticipated results of your project should be summarized in this section. For analytical projects, a brief summary of how alternative results will be interpreted would be helpful. If a creative project is proposed, a description of your anticipated work would be appropriate.

5. Literature Cited/References — Depending on the discipline, your proposal should contain either a "Literature Cited" section or a "References" section. Keep in mind that the above headings have different connotations. The citation format should reflect that which is appropriate for the discipline.

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