Honors Program Requirements

Choosing a Faculty Thesis Committee

The student asks a faculty member within the department in which s/he was nominated to serve as the thesis director.  The student develops, in consultation with the thesis director and perhaps other faculty members in the department, a plan for an Honors Thesis or project.  This process should be begun before the beginning of the senior year.

The student requests two additional faculty members to serve on the thesis committee.  Usually, one of the faculty members is from within the department from which the student was nominated and the other faculty member is from outside the department.  Students should realize that some faculty members may request a written proposal prior to agreeing to serve as a committee member.

Once a committee has been chosen, the student should submit a copy of the Committee Acceptance Form to the Director of the Honors Program for final approval. See Important Deadlines for the due date for this form.

Research with Human Subjects

Any project that will use human subjects in any way (ie. surveys) must be approved by the Austin College Institutional Review Board. Students may contact Wayne Meyer to obtain additional information on getting a project approved.

Obtaining Course Credit for Honors Research

Normally, a student will register for a departmental independent study course (490 or 491). The student must submit an Independent Study Proposal Form describing the project being proposed to the Office of the Registrar by the end of the first week of the term for which credit is being sought.  This form must be signed by the thesis director, department chair and division dean.

The Honors thesis is to be based upon research or other work for which one or two course credits will normally be given.  Should it be justified by the nature of the project, three course credits may be given.  January term courses may be included.

A thesis requiring more than one term to finish may be assigned an “I” grade.  The thesis director may, however, desire to assign a grade for the project at the end of each term.  Each term of the project will be recorded as a 95 course until thesis completion, at which time course designation for successful theses will be changed to 96.

The subject of the thesis, the acceptable number of course credits it may earn, and the appropriate research procedures are to be determined by the student and his or her thesis director.  The Honors Director is to be informed of the topic and course credits in accordance with annual deadlines established for theses.

Upon successful completion of the thesis, this title will be recorded on the student’s permanent record card.  Certain constraints, dictated by the capabilities of our computerized record-keeping system, may apply in individual cases, necessitating the abbreviation of the title.  Students are advised to check with the Records Office before making a final decision about a title.

The student  may withdraw from the Honors Program without completing the thesis.  In such a  case, the student’s thesis director will grade work as if it were one or more course credits of “Independent Study.”

Thesis Requirement

The specific requirements of the Departmental Honors Program are to be defined by each department, but the emphasis is to be placed on independent research, which may begin in the latter part of the junior year.  An Honors project will usually involve an Honors Thesis or its equivalent.  An equivalent project should be approved in advance by the Director of the Honors Program in order to assure consistency of standards.  The student must defend his or her project, when it is completed, in an oral examination.

Oral Examination

All Honors theses must include an oral defense.  The oral examination will provide the student with an opportunity to defend his or her findings to the Faculty Thesis Committee.  The student should be able not only to defend the work done in its disciplinary and technical aspects but also to relate it to a wider area of understanding within the liberal arts framework.  The student should select the “outside” member of the thesis committee with such a goal in mind.  No observers, either student or faculty, will be allowed at the examination unless both the student and the thesis director agree.

The oral examination frequently begins with a summary statement by the writer of the thesis.  The student will be allowed to use materials necessary to the continuity of the presentation (e. g., notes, a statistical table, a blackboard, an overhead projector).  The student may have the thesis available for reference purposes during the period of faculty questioning.  The examination is to last no longer than one hour.  The examination will be judged as passing or failing; a passing grade will require the unanimous consent of the committee.  Examination results are to be presented in writing, with the signatures of committee members, to the Honors Director.

In the event that a student should not pass the oral examination, the thesis director will grade the project as if it were a regular course.  Should this happen, the student would not graduate with departmental honors.  There is no obligation to submit the thesis to an oral examination if the director judges it to be of insufficient quality.  In such a case, the director would grade the thesis as if it were a regular course.

Specific Departmental Requirements

An Honors Thesis, or its equivalent, and the oral examination are simply the minimum requirements of the program.  Some departments have prescribed additional requirements.  You may click on the department name to download the requirements.

Submitting Final Thesis

For  information about due dates, style, or format requirements, please see the Honors Thesis Formatting page.

Turn in your finished thesis to the Honors Program Secretary, Wendy Wilson in Room 312 of the Administration Building.

The Honors Committee will then check the format etc. and, if the format is acceptable, pass the thesis along to Abell Library.  If your style is not consistent, or if the margins will not allow binding, you must make the needed changes in the style or format.