Helping Your Student Register for a Thesis

Undergraduate honors theses are handled as "independent study" credits. You should help the student fill out a "Request for Independent Study" and attach his or her thesis proposal to the form. Once the "Request" is approved, the student will be registered for the credits. Further information about what constitutes an acceptable proposal is in the student section of this guide.

If your department has its own undergraduate thesis number with an "H" designation, you may use it. Alternately, you can use the generic Honors College thesis number, HNRC 483. This number is available as a convenience to any department that does not have its own number and may be used for any junior or senior student who is in good standing in the Cook Honors College. If you are using this number, you should determine whether or not the department will allow these credits to fulfill any requirements in the major, and you should leave a written record of this ruling in the student's advising folder so there is no misunderstanding.

The number and sequencing of credits for an honors thesis can vary by discipline. Most departments with their own departmental honors programs have already determined an optimal pattern based on their experience with students and the demands of their disciplines. To meet the need of various disciplines, the generic Honors College thesis number, HNRC 483, provides a great deal of flexibility. Students can enroll in it multiple times for up to six total credits. The most frequently chosen model is two semesters of thesis work at 3sh each, but other arrangements are possible. You can design a plan that spreads the 6sh over three semesters—perhaps 1sh for design, 3sh for research, and 2sh for writing—or, perhaps a 2sh-2sh-2sh model. Or, you may plan a more limited 3sh thesis.

Departments that follow the standard 3sh-3sh model generally expect students to use part of the first semester to do a literature search or background reading, narrow their topics, and write a sharply defined thesis proposal. This leaves a semester or even as much as a semester and a half for doing research, writing, and revising. A one-semester thesis (3sh), obviously puts your students under more severe time constraints, and they will need to have good backgrounds and sharply focused plans that allow them to leap right into the research.

All "Request for Independent Study" forms require the signature of the student's advisor, department chairperson, and college dean. If you are using the Honors College's number, HNRC 483, the proposal also needs the approval of the Honors College Committee. A well-written proposal will protect both you and the student from later misunderstandings about what was expected. See the relevant sections in the student part of this guide.

Next > The thesis proposal