The program encourages its best students to do a
thesis. You can do a thesis and enroll
in the Asian Studies Honors Program without being in the Honors College,
although if you are in the Honors College a thesis will count toward your honors
credits over there. So, you have a choice—thesis or not?
A thesis is not the right choice for every student.
Discovering new knowledge and turning it into a thesis can be tremendously
exhilarating, but it demands a serious investment of your time and energy. You
can’t be merely going through the motions or doing this because someone else
thought you should. If you aren’t dedicated to the project or do not have
adequate time to devote to it, you are unlikely to end up with a product in
which you can take pride, and you may not have much fun doing it. A quality
thesis demands a quality commitment from you.
A thesis is not the only right choice or even the best
choice for every career path. In some cases, other experiences—if they allow you to demonstrate
independence, proficiency, and maturity in your field—can be just as valuable
or even more so. But even if your field emphasizes other experiences such as
student teaching or an internship, do not be too quick to dismiss the
possibility and value of an honors thesis. There’s nothing wrong with having
more than one culminating experience—a thesis and an internship, for instance—if you can fit them in. Doing one
does not necessarily preclude the other. You can think “both/and” rather than
First, the work can be
You can derive great satisfaction from designing a
significant project and seeing it through to a successful conclusion. Knowing
that you did it once, and thus can do it again in the future, builds legitimate
self-confidence. Working closely on a one-to-one basis over an extended time
period with a faculty thesis director can lead to mutual respect and
intellectual discussions that are almost impossible to duplicate in any other
Along the way, there is tremendous intellectual excitement when you
find new information, confirm a hypothesis, or finally understand how the
pieces of a puzzle fit together. One
student called those her “flashbulb moments” when “the light goes on and all of
a sudden you understand something in a way you never thought of it
before.” This is the same kind of
excitement that researchers have shared for centuries, at least as far back as
the day Archimedes first shouted “Eureka!”
Second, a thesis is a superb opportunity to develop your
research and communication abilities.
Your knowledge will increase and your
skills will grow exponentially. Writing a thesis also tests and strengthens
your ability to employ initiative, to focus, to be persistent, and to manage
time well. This makes a thesis
exceptionally good preparation for the world of work or for graduate or
Third, a thesis can open other opportunities to you.
research is important enough and well written, all or part of it might be
published. There are local, regional, and sometime national conferences at
which undergraduates can do a poster presentation, be on a panel, or read a
paper based on their research. In the course of your thesis work, you might
connect with prominent scholars working in the field or make contacts leading
to research assistantships or summer employment.
The fourth point follows logically—a thesis strengthens your
Why do employers and graduate schools care about your thesis? Primarily because it is the part of your
education that is most identifiably yours.
Completing a thesis says volumes about your work ethic. For employers, it means that you can be given
a significant independent project and be trusted to organize and complete it.
For graduate and professional schools, it testifies not only to your
persistence, but also to your mastery of research skills that are critical
components of higher level study. Your
committee members may suggest revisions for the final version of the
poster. You are strongly encouraged to
present your findings at conferences at IUP and elsewhere.