Students completing the Distinguished Honors College Scholar Award or the Advanced Honors College Scholar Award are required to complete an Honors thesis. This page provides an overview of the thesis process; students should download and review the Student Guide to Honors Theses for full details and policies.
What is a thesis?
A thesis project is an extended piece of independent student research typically completed during a student’s final year of undergraduate study. Theses draw on scholarly resources and follow the conventions of research/creative activity in their discipline. A thesis demonstrates a student’s ability to conduct research and write effectively. Students work closely with a faculty mentor to design a feasible topic and an appropriate plan for a thesis project, but the student is responsible for all aspects of the project’s planning and execution.
What is the thesis process like?
Completing a thesis is a multiple-semester process. Ideally, students will develop their thesis proposals by enrolling in HNRS 3500: Honors Thesis Proposal at least 2 semesters prior to graduation. (If this is not possible you can work with your faculty mentor to complete your proposal outside of this class.) After your thesis proposal is approved by your faculty mentor and their department chair, you submit it to the Honors College so you can be enrolled in an independent-study style course for thesis credit.
During the semester you are enrolled for thesis credit, you will meet with your faculty mentor regularly to review your progress and stay on track. At the end of the semester, you will defend your thesis at Honors College Thesis Day.
Each stage in the thesis process is reviewed in more detail below.
Find a faculty mentor.
Thesis projects must be supervised by a full-time, permanent UNT faculty member. Most students complete theses in their major and work with a faculty member in that department. Students often work with professors they have previously taken a course with. Use UNT’s Faculty Information System to find information about UNT faculty members’ research interests and try to take classes early in your undergraduate career with faculty whose research interests align with yours. You will need to identify one faculty member to serve as your primary mentor and a second to serve on your thesis committee.
Prepare your Thesis Proposal.
The Thesis Proposal provides a roadmap for your research project. It tells your thesis committee and the Honors College what you will do for your Honors thesis project. Most students complete the proposal through HNRS 3500: Honors Thesis Proposal, though this document can also be written as an Honors contract, Mentored Research Experience, or independently (in consultation with your faculty mentor). Speak to an Honors advisor to discuss an appropriate pathway to completing a thesis proposal.
Your Thesis Proposal will include the following information:
- An abstract,
- An introduction that clearly articulates your research question/thesis statement,
- An overview of the most relevant scholarly literature that your project draws on,
- A discussion of the methods you will use to carry out your research,
- A work plan including regular meetings with your mentor and a time table for completing your thesis, and
- A preliminary list of references.
If your research will utilize human subjects, you must request approval from the UNT Institutional Review Board before beginning your data collection. If your project requires IRB approval, you must submit a copy of your IRB application to the Honors College with your Thesis Proposal.
Complete your thesis project.
Once your Thesis Proposal is approved by the Honors College, you will be enrolled in an Honors thesis course (either HNRS 4951 or a department equivalent, e.g. BIOL 4951). The class will not have pre-assigned meeting times; you and your faculty mentor will meet according to the schedule provided in your Thesis Proposal.
There is no single correct format for a thesis. The norms of your field should guide the writing and presentation. Choose the style manual most relevant to your field of study and use it consistently. Thesis projects must use proper grammar and syntax.
Complete your project and submit it to your thesis committee by the Honors College deadline. Your committee members will review your work and identify revisions that need to be made before your thesis can be defended.
Defend your thesis.
If your faculty mentor approves your project for defense, you will present your research at Honors College Thesis Day. Thesis defenses are open to the public and mark the completion of a substantial academic achievement.
Thesis defenses typically take the following form:
- Presentation of your research findings (15-25 minutes)
- Opportunity for questions from thesis committee members
- Opportunity for general audience questions
- Committee deliberations regarding project (everyone else leaves the room)
- Student receives feedback (Pass, Pass with revisions, or Did not pass)
Thesis resources, including important dates and faculty and student guides, can be found on the Honors College Canvas page