Your Capstone culminates in your Honors thesis. Regardless of the nature of the Capstone core work, the thesis is an academic product, written according to the academic standards of your major. As such, the thesis always involves research. The amount of research, how much is required, and when it is conducted will vary by field and by the individual Capstone efforts. Even when the Capstone core experience has followed a nontraditional path (e.g., an internship, a series of lesson plans, a recital), the thesis requires a lesser but still appropriate degree of traditional academic research. Some of this research may occur while you are wrestling with the work itself, in the effort to perform that work at the highest and most current level. Some of it might occur during the thesis-writing semester(s) as you become an active participant in the professional discourse about your topic. The honors theses housed in the on-line Repository will provide examples of the range of approaches available to you for your thesis. Use the past theses to settle your nerves and whet your appetite.
The Honors thesis is ultimately a demonstration of the “scholar” in “citizen scholar”:
- the thesis (obviously, like the Capstone) must be in your major, unless approved by the Dean of the Honors College;
- if your major requires a thesis (as does International Studies), the SMBHC accepts that thesis as satisfying our honors thesis requirement;
- you should plan on enrolling in an appropriate course for your thesis-writing; you will earn honors credit for this coursework, probably three to six hours depending on the field;
- the length of the thesis will vary from 30 to 100 pages depending on your major. A student in the sciences, having spent much time in the laboratory, will write a thesis of about 30 pages; a student in the humanities will write one of about 60 to 100 pages;
- if the core of your Capstone experience was a creation of some outcome appropriate to your field (e.g., a collection of short stories, a recital, a semester’s lesson plans), your thesis provides the academic discourse that grounds that work in your understanding of the challenges and potentials of the field at this time;
- the student must defend the thesis before a committee of three people; the thesis advisor, another faculty member from the student’s major department (chosen by the student and the mentor), and another professor designated by the Honor’s Dean; a final copy of the thesis should be provided to the committee members at least two weeks prior to the date for which the defense is scheduled and no later than April 1 to provide them time to read and respond to it before the thesis defense;
- after getting the permission of the faculty mentor, the student is responsible for scheduling with the committee the date and time of the defense; the Honors College can assist with a location;
- the thesis must be defended no later than the last day of classes in the semester the student expects to graduate.* It is usually written during the student’s last semester on campus, but may be written whenever the Capstone is complete and the student is ready to write the thesis.
Visit here to see commonly-used courses for Capstone and Thesis credit.
Writing the senior thesis can be a very rewarding and enjoyable task. However, it is not a task that you can wait until the last minute to begin and expect favorable results. Thus, you should begin thinking about and preparing for the writing of your thesis early. Discuss with your research advisor the best way to translate your research into a thesis. You should be particularly clear about what your advisor expects as far as grading criteria, rough drafts, and deadlines. It is your responsibility to meet with your advisor frequently to exchange ideas and review your progress.
Grades – If you are receiving course credit for the research or thesis, you will be earning a grade. Therefore, you should have a clear understanding from your professor about the grading criteria.
For a complete picture of the Capstone and Thesis experience, please read The Honors Capstone Years: After Candidacy.
*Occasionally, students complete the thesis requirements in the summer after graduation, but only with prior approval of the thesis adviser and the Honors College. Students who finish in the summer are not eligible to participate in the commissioning ceremony.