What is an Honors Thesis?

An honors thesis is an original, independent research project undertaken with the guidance of a faculty mentor and culminating in a significant paper. As a history student, you are familiar with the essays and papers written in our regular courses, and this is at once similar and different. The two are similar in the sense that both are characterized by a persuasive argument, judicious use of evidence, originality of thought, and clarity of expression. But they differ in two important waysan honors thesis is a very much larger project, and it is based on original research carried out according to the standards of the discipline. Although as an undergraduate you are unlikely to make a truly world-shattering discovery, you should expect your honors thesis to make, in at least a modest way, what scholars call "a contribution to the field."

You may hear people refer to an honors thesis as a "senior thesis." In some ways, this phrase is misleading because many students start their theses before the senior year. But if such a phrase denotes a sense of maturity and culmination, then it is not entirely wrong. An honors thesis allows you to use your accumulated skills and knowledge to study an important question, test a hypothesis, or produce something truly creativeand to do so on your own, independently. Thus, an honors thesis is the ultimate, defining accomplishment of your undergraduate education. It is not the same as the paper completed in HIST 480, Senior Thesis, although completing an honors thesis will fulfill the same graduation requirement. The form and length of honors theses vary greatly by topic; recently, most theses have been forty to sixty pages, but some have been longer or shorter.

Step by Step

Plan well for your thesis.

Selected Titles of Recent History Honors Thesis

See what your fellow students have published.

When Should I Plan For and Begin Work on My Thesis?

One reason many students do not write a thesis is that they wait too long to start thinking about it and don’t have enough time to complete all the tasks involved over and above simply writing a thesis.

Should I Do a Thesis?

You can do a thesis and enroll in the History 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.

For Faculty Thesis Directors

Has a student approached you about helping them write an undergraduate thesis?

Sample thesis cover page

It has to start somewhere!

Sample Thesis Approval Page

A guide

History Honors Thesis Guide Full Document

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