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Honors Program

Honors Thesis Guidelines

Penultimate Thesis Draft* Submission Deadline: March 18, 2020

*This next-to-last draft bears the thesis advisor's signature of approval, indicating it meets honors thesis standards and is indeed ready to be viewed by the second thesis reader.  The final thesis, properly formatted for binding and bearing the signatures of the thesis advisor and thesis reader on the certification page, is should be submitted by April 24, 2020 by NOON.  If more time is needed either the thesis author or their advisor should contact Dr. Lantzer.

Student and Advisor

Students are expected to put their best work into their honors thesis. Faculty advisors are expected to guide students to produce their best work. Both jobs are time-consuming and must be carried out by students and faculty members working together in a disciplined way over a sustained period. Each person has responsibility to see that the necessary work is completed on time. Contacts should not be limited to chance meetings in the hall. A clear schedule of conferences should be set up for the year.

Registration for Honors Thesis Credit

Students who want course credit for the honors thesis may register for the Honors Thesis course in the department of their major. The course number is 499 (following the department designator, e.g., BI, MH, AC, etc.), carries three hours of academic credit, and can be taken during either semester of the final year depending on the student's work and/or credit load. Such registration is not mandatory. If the student signs up for Honors Thesis in the fall semester, he/she receives an Incomplete at the end of the semester, and the "I" is changed to a letter grade by the advisor at the completion of the thesis in the spring semester.

The thesis advisor assigns the grade for Honors Thesis credit. The grade for an approved thesis must be either A or B. The University Honors Committee does not assign or review any grades.

In the event that a thesis is not completed or approved, the registration for Honors Thesis must be canceled and may be replaced by an Independent Study in the same department. If a student is registered for Honors Thesis but decides not to complete the thesis, the student should notify the Honors office. The advisor is responsible for the procedure necessary to drop or withdraw the student from the course and to convert the hours to independent study if desired.

Early Drafts

Written drafts should be prepared as early as possible. For example, an introductory literature review can be written even before the research is completed. Advisors and students should decide on deadlines for drafts of chapters and sections of the thesis and observe them. Failure of students to meet such deadlines is grounds for abandoning the thesis. A complete first draft should be finished four to six weeks before the submission draft is due (see below).

Penultimate Draft and Final Version

The penultimate draft is the completed thesis bearing the thesis advisor's approval. It should be submitted to the second reader (with the Honors Office cc'd) by March 18, 2020. If the student has multiple thesis advisors, all must approve the submission draft. An advisor’s signature on the certification page indicates that the advisor is satisfied the thesis is the best it can be.  We encourage students to submit the penultimate draft electronically to their second reader (copying the Assistant Director of the University Honors Program, Jason Lantzer, on the submission at

The reader: The penultimate draft is read by one faculty member decided upon in advance by the student and the student's advisor. If the reader approves the thesis, s/he may still ask for revisions of the thesis, including mechanical errors (typos, punctuation, grammar, etc.) and minor substantive problems (organization, refinement of terminology, etc.). In such cases, the reader will sign his/her approval of the thesis and it will be returned to the student for correction.

The reader may postpone approving the thesis until he/she sees substantive revisions such as major reorganization or to remedy insufficient content, errors of interpretation, etc. In such a case, the Honors Director should be notified, and the thesis will be returned to the student and advisor to discuss the needed changes. If there is a dispute, another reader may be assigned. The thesis must be acceptable to all readers before it is approved.

The reader returns the penultimate draft along with the mandated revisions to the student in either hardcopy or electronically.  They should also notify the Honors Office as well.  It is expected that this will occur on or about April 1.  The student then prepares the final version of the thesis according to technical specifications for binding, including the signed cover sheet (signed by their advisor, second reader, and the Honors Director). 


Since 2016, students will be uploading their completed thesis to the library, rather than submitting paper copies.  They may purchase additional copies to be bound and will also be asked if they wish to make their thesis available on the Digital Commons. This final version is due on or about April 24, 2020. If more time is needed either the thesis author or their advisor should contact Dr. Lantzer.

The Oral Presentation

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. Learn more about the URC.
  • A setting arranged by your department, such as a lecture/recital, performance, or departmental seminar.
  • A regional or national conference in your discipline. Learn more about travel-to-present grants for students.
  • 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.

Nuts and Bolts: Technical Specifications

  1. Both submission draft and final version must be produced via computer and printed with a laser printer. (DO make back-up copies!) This greatly facilitates editing.
  2. Footnotes, bibliography, table of contents, and other aspects of form and style must be consistent with standards of the discipline and uniformly applied throughout the thesis. It is up to the advisor to mandate the style to be followed.
  3. The body of the thesis must be double-spaced and single sided. Extended quotations, footnotes and bibliography should be spaced according to the style being used. Pages must be numbered consecutively.
  4. Margins must be uniformly 1½ inches on the left and one inch on the other three sides. The top margin may be increased to reflect chapter and section divisions. (The larger left margin accommodates the binding process.)
  5. All figures, diagrams and other illustrative material must be clearly presented, numbered, labeled and referenced in the text.
    • The thesis must begin with a thesis certification page, including the advisor's signature.
    • ​A title page prepared according to the specifications of Honors Program should follow the certification page.

Need more information? Contact Jason Lantzer, Assistant Director of  the Honors Program in Jordan Hall, Room 109e, 317-940-9302.