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. In HON 3100, students will identify a research topic, work with a research librarian to begin compiling readings for the thesis, and learn how to find a faculty mentor. By the end of the semester, students will have secured a faculty mentor and with their mentor’s guidance, will develop a research plan that will be completed in HON 3101. In HON 3101, students will complete research with their faculty mentor. At the conclusion of the 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. After completing HON 3101, each Honors student may begin the senior-year Honors Thesis courses (HON 4V87: 4 credit hours total).