Center for High Achievement & Scholarly Engagement
University Honors Program

Thesis Proposal and Honors Thesis Information

Honors theses are as varied as Butler's student body. Theses range from original research in the humanities and sciences, to teaching portfolios, to video productions, to performances and creative writing. Visit as many of the links below as you like. We hope they will help guide you as you think about doing a thesis.

Congratulations to the 2013 Honors Thesis Writers!

Some basic information on the thesis process:

Introduction ~ Show Information

Honors theses may be written by both honors and non-honors students. Honors students must complete a thesis in order to complete the Honors Program. Non-honors students may choose to complete a thesis in order to earn departmental honors.

Each thesis writer selects a faculty member or two to serve as a mentor. Students will be wise to allow four semesters and the intervening summer for the entire process. The first of those semesters (usually Fall of the junior year) may be spent in speaking with faculty members, exploring options, and beginning to narrow down on a topic or project. Honors students will take their departmental honors course during this semester. In the second semester, the student will work with the thesis advisor(s) to develop the thesis proposal. For Honors students, this will mean taking HN397 or 398. The thesis proposal is due the Friday before Spring Break.

During the summer and both semesters of the final year, students will be doing their research and working steadily on their projects. We highly recommend scheduling regular meetings with your thesis advisor and keeping to a calendar of intermediate deadlines as the surest way to complete the thesis, which will be the crowning achievement of your undergraduate education.

Thesis Timeline

The thesis is due in March of your final year. If you're in the Honors Program, two courses, best taken the year before your final year, lead up to the honors thesis. (Students in 5 and 6-year programs can write the thesis in the fourth, fifth, or sixth year, and should complete the preparatory coursework before the year that thesis is written.)

A. Choosing a Topic ~ Show Information

Many students begin by talking with the department head or faculty member(s) in their department to come up with possible ideas for the thesis. You may want to begin by brainstorming. What themes or topics in your courses have most engaged you? What are you most curious about? What do you love? It's important to select a topic that you truly care about, so that your thesis will continue to interest you during the year and a half or more that you'll be working on it.

B. Choosing a Thesis Advisor ~ Show Information

Having a thesis advisor with whom you can work can be a key to the successful thesis experience. Of course you'll want someone who is conversant with the area in which you'll be doing your thesis. Personality matters, too. You'll need to choose someone who is easy for you to talk with, whom you understand easily, and who understands you. If you are someone who will need structure, you may want to find out if a professor is willing to meet regularly with you and check on your progress from time to time. If you work well independently, you may want someone who has a light hand when giving guidance.

C. Departmental Honors Course (DHC) ~ Show Information

Required for Honors Program students. If you are writing a thesis only for departmental honors, you may find this course helpful, or you can skip down to E below. This course will have a departmental course number. It is best taken in Fall of your junior year. The object is to equip you with research techniques, terminology, methodology, and other discipline-specific knowledge that you'll need in order to successfully complete a thesis proposal and undertake the thesis. Each department is expected to designate the course(s) it has determined to be DHC in the schedule of classes with an "H". If you do not find a course listed in your area, however, please contact the head of your department.

D. Honors Independent Study and Thesis Proposal Course (HN 397 or 398) ~ Show Information

Required for Honors Program students. In this course you begin to work with your thesis advisor to develop your bibliography and focus the topic of your thesis project. HN 397 carries one credit hour, and you and your adviser spend about fifteen contact hours together; HN 398 carries two credit hours which equal about thirty contact hours. The end product of this course is the thesis proposal, due in March of your junior year.

E. The Thesis Proposal ~ Show Information

All thesis writers must submit a proposal to the Honors Office (JH153D) in March a year before they intend to graduate. The Honors Board of your college will review your proposal and either approve it or return it for revision. It can take up to two weeks for the Honors Board to review your proposal. Honors Boards generally meet weekly and notify students as their theses are reviewed. If you are in the Honors Program, your thesis adviser will assign a grade for you in HN 397/8 when your proposal is approved.

F. The Thesis ~ Show Information

The thesis is due in March of your final year. You can register for the Honors Thesis course in your major (department course number 499; 3 credit hours) if you want or need the hours; the course is not a requirement. You can register for the thesis course in the Fall semester and take an incomplete, or register in the Spring.

While working on your thesis, it is important that you and your adviser agree to and follow a time-table. You should submit outlines and drafts of your thesis to your advisor throughout the academic year. When you submit your thesis in March to the Honors Office (JH153D), you and your advisor should consider it to be in its final form. A Certification Page should be signed by your thesis adviser and accompany your thesis. The thesis is then routed to a faculty reader, who can take up to a week to review your work.

If the reader is satisfied, he/she will mark any corrections for you to make and will sign the certification page. The thesis will be returned to you to make the final corrections. Your thesis reader can request revisions before he/she signs off on your thesis. If this is the case, the thesis is promptly returned to you with the reader's comments, and you are asked to revise and resubmit it for the reader's approval. (Only if the reader has serious concerns about the thesis will it be given to a second reader.) Once the final version of the thesis is submitted and certified, it will be bound and become part of the library collection.

G. The Oral Presentation ~ Show Information

Honors Program students are required to make an oral/public presentation of their thesis project. Please inform the Honors Office of the date of your presentation.  Each thesis writer is required to give an oral presentation of the thesis project. The presentation may be made in any of several different settings:

  • The Undergraduate Research Conference. More information about the URC can be found here.
  • A setting arranged by your department, such as a lecture/recital, performance, or departmental seminar.
  • A regional or national conference in your discipline. More information on travel-to-present grants for students can be found here.
  • An alternative venue. Contact the Honors Program office to seek approval for an alternative to the settings outlined above. For example, business majors have made presentations at their internship sites.

Helpful links on the thesis proposal:

Helpful links on the thesis: