Senior Honors Scholars Thesis Guidelines
The Senior Honors Thesis represents an in-depth, capstone experience designed to provide
Honors College students with opportunities to develop a deeper knowledge of their major
discipline, a closer intellectual interaction with faculty, and more complete preparation
for their career goals. The Senior Honors Thesis must involve use of the primary literature
in their field of study and should represent the student's most sustained research or
creative work as an undergraduate.
An approved Senior Honors Thesis that has been orally presented in public is required
for graduation as an Honors College Scholar from East Tennessee State University; no
exceptions to this policy will be granted.
In addition, students must earn a grade of 'B' or better on all credit hours enrolled as
Senior Honors Thesis. Please be aware that this grade represents the quality and consistency
of how you work with your professor, in addition to the quality of the thesis itself.
Typically, the Honors Thesis is a yearlong project (minimum) for which the student enrolls in six
hours of credit (3 credit hours per semester in their senior year). The subject area should
represent the student's first or second major of study. Approval for a thesis in the student's
minor field, or for any modification in enrollment hours, may be obtained from the Director of
the Honors College program in which the student is enrolled. Thesis hours (e.g., MUSC 4018 or
FNCE 4018) are specified in the department of the Thesis Professor; arrangements for these hours
must be made in advance (see Junior Year). Thesis hours are specified
on your transcript as "Senior Honors Thesis." Usually, Honors Thesis hours count as hours toward
your major; however, Honors students should check this in advance with their Thesis Professor
and/or Chair of the department.
Junior Year - Getting Started
Honors students should begin considering their thesis topic no later than the first semester
of their junior year. The typical first step for a student is to interview professors in their
field of study, especially those faculty with expertise in the specific area of the students'
Working together, the student and professor will select a more refined topic. However, if things progress
normally, your initial topic will be too general and you will need to complete some initial research and
continue working with your Thesis Professor to develop and refine your specific thesis question. For
interdisciplinary studies, students may work with two Thesis Professors from different fields.
Students working in some disciplines (e.g., Biology or Chemistry) or areas that require public service
or field experiences may need to begin their projects during their junior year---so please start early!
In these situations, arrangements for Independent Study hours in the student's major may be appropriate;
please see the Director of the Honors College program in which you are enrolled.
Thesis Proposal Form
During April, Juniors must submit a
Thesis Proposal Form that lists their Thesis Professor(s) and a proposed project title.
Note that a blank is provided if you wish to work with two professors; however, this is NOT
required. Thesis Professor(s) must sign this form.
It is expected that your project title or even your specific question,
may change later; your proposal is considered preliminary. You
also need to discuss the grade arrangement with your Thesis
Professor---some prefer to give an Incomplete in Thesis at the
end of the Fall and will change your grade when you have
completed the entire project (see the
Thesis Proposal Form).
For the current academic year, the completed Thesis Proposal Form
must be submitted to the Honors Office no later than the
Monday of April; this allows the Honors Office sufficient time
to arrange thesis enrollment for your senior year. The intended
result of this process is to better prepare you for your Thesis
work---you'll know what you need to do when you return for your
Arrangements for your Senior Honors Thesis
enrollment have been made and your topic has been refined, so
you should be ready to go! If you haven't already begun your
project, meet with your Thesis Professor the first week of
classes in the fall semester to plan a timetable for your
progress (see suggestions, below). You also should begin
discussions about two additional faculty to serve as readers for
your thesis, and your choice of presentation type, location and
Due Dates: Required and Recommended
1st Week of September:
Meet with Thesis Professor, plan timetable
3rd Week of January:
Select two Thesis Readers (one from a different department);
Notify Honors Director
2nd Week of February: First Draft of
Thesis to Thesis Professor for review
End of February: Abstracts
due for ETSU Undergraduate Research Symposium (if used for presentation; see
1st Week of April: Set date for presentation; print
flyers; Notify Honors College Program Director
2nd Week of April: Completed
thesis, bound & signed by Thesis Professor, to Honors
College Program Director
How to Proceed
Set a timetable with your Thesis Professor,
including both regular meetings and deadlines for progress on
your project. A typical schedule should require that the student
complete the majority of all laboratory and library work plus
the initial analyses by the end of Fall semester, so that the
Spring semester allows ample time for you to complete the actual
writing of your thesis.
Students should plan on working a
minimum of six to nine hours per week on their thesis project.
Throughout your project, each student should engage in careful
planning, thorough research, thoughtful analysis, good writing
and enthusiastic work. The Honors Thesis must be academically
honest and in full compliance with ethical guidelines
appropriate to the field of study. By the way, you should expect
to produce four or five drafts of your thesis.
Where appropriate, the thesis should be considered as a
manuscript that may be submitted for publication in a scholarly
journal in your field. However, the form of your thesis is
limited only by your imagination! The Director of the Honors
College Program is open to innovative ideas for your thesis, so be
creative and come talk to me about it! In most instances,
however, it is advised that, in consultation with your Thesis
Professor, you target a specific journal and stick to that
Because this is a thesis, however, you may include more
documentation than usually would be appropriate for publication;
please consider placing data or extensive footnotes in an
appendix at the end of the thesis. The length of an Honors
Thesis varies with discipline---in some areas of the humanities,
40--60 pages is not atypical, but creative works might be longer
or shorter; in mathematics and natural sciences, 20--30 pages is
not unusual. Again, please note that you need to be using the
primary research literature in your chosen field.
In general, your thesis should include the following:
- thesis title page an example is attached);
- a clear and well defined thesis statement,
- review and citation of pertinent literature,
- documentation of results,
- discussion of findings in context of your thesis statement,
- summary and conclusions,
- literature referenced, and
- an appendix for more comprehensive documentation.
Theses in the creative arts (e.g.,
studio art, performing arts, writing) or those that involve
public service or field experiences should include some tangible
form of creative works (e.g., photographs); possibly, a diary of
experiences; and a written essay that explains the intent of the
project in context with the field of study, the details of
execution, and an evaluation both of the results and the
experiences of the student.
Option for Oral Presentation
The requirement for oral, public presentation of your thesis can be
accomplished in the following ways:
- departmental seminar;
- presentation at the ETSU Undergraduate Research Symposium (abstracts due end
of February; presentation typically the second week of April);
- presentation at a regional or national discipline-specific meeting.
You should plan to have your presentation no later than the last week of April. If you select
a departmental seminar, an announcement of your presentation
should be posted two weeks in advance in the department and on
the Honors College News and Events webpage.
Final Thesis Copy
For the current academic year,
Seniors must submit the final form of their thesis, signed by
their Thesis Professor, no later than the
second Friday of April. If you wish, you may ask your readers to sign your thesis
also, but this is not required. This final copy must be
permanently bound (most students just go to a photocopy
business, such as Kinko's). You should know it is considered
professional courtesy to provide your Thesis Professor(s) with a
final copy, also.
Your thesis will be reviewed and receive final
approval by the Director of the Honors College Program in which
you are enrolled. The Director
will then notify the Graduation Office of the completion of your
requirements to graduate as an Honors College Scholar, a
designation that will be placed on your diploma and transcript.
These guidelines and suggestions are intended to ensure that the Honors
College Student, Thesis Professor, and Directors of the Honors
College Programs share the same expectations. However, the control
of these projects rests primarily with you, the student. The Honors College Directors,
Dean, or Curriculum Coordinator are available to answer any questions and assist in t
his process in any way you require (see Frequently Asked Questions).
You also will find the Honors College open to suggestions & experimentation! Please feel
free to call or email at any time.
University Honors Scholars Program
Midway Honors Scholars Program
Dr. Joy Wachs, Director
Campus Box 70294
Ada Earnest House
Phone: (423) 439-7881
Fax (423) 439-7880
Fine & Performing Arts
Scott Koterbay, Director
Campus Box 70589
207 Yoakley Hall
Karen Kornweibel, Director
Campus Box 70589
201 Yoakley Hall
Honors College Dean
Dr. Rebecca A. Pyles
Campus Box 70589
131 Yoakley Hall
Campus Box 70589
204 Yoakley Hall