Most of the upper-division Honors Program curriculum (six credit-hours) is devoted to the development of a thesis project under the direction of a faculty mentor. Through independent study and research, conducted over several semesters, students begin to apply the methods of their chosen discipline(s) to the investigation of a specific topic of interest. The extent and content of Honors thesis projects vary considerably across different fields of study. They may include significant components of textual criticism (in the humanities); laboratory research (in physical sciences); data collection and analysis (in social sciences); or, occasionally, creative expression (in art, creative writing, or dramatic or musical performance). In any case the thesis project introduces Honors students to the techniques of research, writing, and performance that they will encounter at the graduate level, and helps to cultivate the intellectual skills that are essential to critical inquiry and advanced scholarship.
The thesis project usually begins in the junior year with a sequence of two consecutive Advanced Readings courses (HON 3100 and 3101: two credit hours total). These courses may be taken individually--one in the fall of the third year, one in the following spring--or together during the spring of the third year of study. Students devise their plan for the readings (or a combination of readings and, for example, laboratory procedures) in consultation with a professor who agrees to supervise the work, and execution of the plan should provide a solid foundation in a specific research field and should familiarize the Honors student with current methodologies, debates, and problems in the discipline. At the conclusion of the second Readings course, students complete and submit a proposal which outlines a research agenda or performance design and identifies the primary sources and tentative methods for the thesis project.
Begun in the spring 2005 term, the Proseminar series introduces students enrolled in HON 3100/3101 each spring to research methods and general thesis-writing strategies through several coordinated seminars. These sessions, led by Honors College faculty and staff and their colleagues, will be announced to enrollees early each spring semester and via Baylor e-mail.