Forms

Download and complete the following forms (.docx) to begin your thesis process.


Thesis Guidelines

General Guidelines

The Senior Honors Thesis is the capstone of your work in the Honors Program, allowing you to focus in-depth on a research question of your own design. Working closely with your faculty advisor and a small cohort of thesis writing peers in HS490, you will develop and revise your writing and your thinking about a subject of importance to you. This process will require your commitment to spending an extensive period of time on background reading and research. That's why you will ideally begin work on the Thesis a year prior to its submission. At this point in your college career, you have had opportunities to think about scholarly questions in many fields, including your major, and you should know what issues and ideas you find most engaging. 

The Senior Honors Thesis is not meant to be a test of your long-term intellectual brilliance and maturity. Rather, the greater depth required by the Senior Honors Thesis will contribute to that intellectual maturity, enabling you to pursue significant research questions. What constitutes "greater depth" will vary from discipline to discipline. Generally speaking, however, greater depth requires a more thorough understanding of the field(s) pertaining to your topic—the body of knowledge that scholars and practitioners working in multiple disciplines use to converse with one another. Second, greater depth is likely to involve you with primary sources; that is, you are less likely to rely simply on what others have done or said and more likely to focus on your own analysis. Third, in those fields where empirical research is called for, greater depth may mean hands-on involvement with data gathering, using such methods as surveying and interviewing

Two Paths

1. The “Traditional” Honors thesis

A critical/theoretical Honors Thesis is typically between 50-60 pages in length, 12-pt. font, (Times New Roman or Palatino), double-spaced. The Honors Thesis should conform to the style required by your discipline (e.g., APA, MLA, or other appropriate style manuals). Thorough documentation is expected, and students are responsible for understanding and avoiding plagiarism.

2. The Honors thesis and creative project

If you are working on a BFA or a capstone project in your major, you may choose to develop this creative project (such as a work of literature, a film, a performance, or a marketing campaign), in connection with your Honors Thesis. (In this case the Honors Thesis may be a minimum of 30-pages.) The Thesis should be developed during the construction of the project (rather than after its completion), keeping in mind the central problem of how your project is an example of a scholarly question or a response to a scholarly question and thereby analyzing and clarifying problems and issues that you have confronted. The thesis should introduce the creative work and the research methodologies you have employed as well as situate the work within the broader—and perhaps interdisciplinary—scholarly and/or creative context of which it is a part. The Thesis is thus both a critical and self reflective paper in which you explain the significance of your topic as well as discuss the broader questions that underlie and are raised by your topic and your treatment of it. You should begin by engaging with the key primary and secondary texts of your primary field of study. 

NOTE: If you decide to combine an Honors thesis with a creative project you will need to—independently—work with a faculty advisor who can help you with the creative project. You must inform the Honors Program Office of your secondary advisor by listing their name on your Thesis Proposal Form. Your secondary advisor should participate in your Thesis Proposal Review meeting in the Fall (more information below).

3. Both Paths

The bibliography, normally referencing 25–35 texts, will indicate the place of your work within the field, from a serious scholarly/academic perspective. In addition to considering how your topic connects with related fields of scholarly study you might also consider (a) in what way might the ideas or findings from your work be applied beyond the limitations of your project? And if you are producing a creative piece (b) what were your artistic processes and research methodologies and how do they relate to scholarly inquiry and to the limitations of your project?

The specific questions to be addressed by your thesis will depend on the field and should be identified and discussed with your Thesis Advisor(s). 

Steps in the Process

Junior Year

  1. Attend Junior Honors Colloquia: Register for HS301/302: The Honors Program Office will conduct multiple thesis workshops which you are required to attend as part of your Junior Honors Colloquia. During these workshops, you will hear from Senior Honors students engaged in the thesis process, learn more about writing an abstract, and develop ideas for your own Senior Thesis. You will be notified of workshop dates by the Honors Program Office early in the fall semester, or at the end of junior spring semester.
  2. Choose a Topic: This step is undertaken during the spring semester of the junior year, allowing you two full semesters to complete the thesis. It is often appropriate to expand upon work that has been undertaken within the context of a regular course such as your upper-division IN Seminar.
  3. Develop a Draft Proposal: You may work with faculty members and/or the Honors Program Director to develop your proposal and help narrow your topic to manageable proportions. The proposal should include an abstract of 500–750 words in length, a preliminary bibliography containing at least 10 sources, and a list of relevant coursework. Students must submit their draft proposals electronically to an Honors Program Box folder set up by Nicole Martignetti no later than Sunday April 10, 2022. Depending on whether you are graduating in December or May, and/or going to ELA in the Spring, the Honors Program will then register you for the appropriate HS490 Thesis Seminar.

OR

  1. Take HS390, a 4-credit pre-thesis interdisciplinary course: You may take HS390 in the spring of your junior year, or the fall of your senior year.
  2. Choose a Topic: This step is undertaken during the spring semester of the junior year, allowing you two full semesters to complete the thesis. It is often appropriate to expand upon work that has been undertaken within the context of a regular course such as your upper-division IN Seminar.
  3. Develop a Draft Proposal: You may work with faculty members and/or the Honors Program Director to develop your proposal and help narrow your topic to manageable proportions. The proposal should include an abstract of 500–750 words in length, a preliminary bibliography containing at least 10 sources, and a list of relevant coursework. Students must submit their draft proposals electronically to an Honors Program Box folder set up by Nicole Martignetti no later than Sunday April 10, 2022. Depending on whether you are graduating in December or May, and/or going to ELA in the Spring, the Honors Program will then register you for the appropriate HS490 Thesis Seminar.

Senior Year

  1. Attend HS490: Honors Thesis Seminar. While this 4-credit course will appear on your degree audit during either the fall or spring semester of your senior year, your participation will be year-long (unless you are graduating in December, in which case you will need to work with your advisor over the summer). Note: you will only receive a grade for HS490 when your thesis is complete. So if HS 490 is on your schedule in the Fall, and you are graduating in May, then you will receive an I (Incomplete) for your Fall grade in HS490. Once you turn in your completed thesis, the grade of I will turn into a letter grade.
  2. Thesis Proposal Review: Early in your senior year, you will have a formal meeting with the Director, your Thesis Advisor, and a second faculty member to discuss the revised version of your thesis proposal. Understanding that the proposal you submit in April is preliminary, this new version will contain 1) a revised 500–750 word discussion of your topic, stating your research question(s), as well as the significance of your topic in relationship to current scholarship, 2) an annotated bibliography of at least 20 sources; and 3) a 5-page draft of your literature review.
  3. Complete the Thesis: The completed Thesis will be signed by your advisor and submitted to the Honors Program Director by the last day of classes in your last full semester (not including summer sessions). Please be sure to consult the templates on the Honors Program website, listed under Forms and Resources.

Sample schedules for May vs. December finishers

May finishers

Summer: reading widely in the topic area

September: three Friday class meetings: topic, literature review, annotated bibliography

October: one Friday class meeting: peer reviews of thesis proposal

November: Thesis Proposal Reviews

December: 10–15pp draft due, plus progress report and workplan

(additional one-on-one meetings with your advisor)

January: one Friday class meeting

February: 25-pp draft due

March: one Friday class meeting, 40-pp draft due

Mid-April: 50–60pp draft due

Late-April: Honors Thesis Showcase

Last day of classes: Hard copy final thesis due.

December finishers

Late July: two assignments due: research questions and annotated bibliography

Late August: two assignments due: revised thesis overview and literature review

September: two Friday class meetings; plus Thesis Proposal Reviews; 12–15pp draft due late Sept.

October: one Friday class meeting

Early November: 35-pp draft due

(additional one-on-one meetings with your advisor)

Early December: 50–60pp draft due

Last day of classes: Hard copy final thesis due

Thesis Review

What is the Thesis Review?

All students will take part in an oral review of their revised thesis proposal between September and December. The Thesis Review is a conversation with your Advisor, a second reader, and the Honors Program Director. Your project has inevitably developed since you submitted your proposal in April, and the Review in the fall is an opportunity for advisors, secondary advisors, and students to discuss the strength of the student’s thesis as well as their research and writing plan for the year.

You will be asked to open the discussion with a brief (3 minutes or so) statement about your project. Faculty in the room will have read your proposal and will have questions and/or suggestions for you. This is also a time where you may wish to ask questions about particular research issues, or directions you wish to take, etc.

The Thesis Review is not a high-pressure interrogation, but rather a great opportunity to have a focused scholarly discussion of your project.

When/where do thesis reviews take place?

Thesis Reviews take place on Zoom. Each review will be about twenty minutes. There will be an additional faculty member present at each review who is not directly involved in the student’s project. December graduates will be scheduled in September. May graduates will be scheduled in late October/early November.

What is due?

One week before your scheduled review, submit 1) a revised 500-750-word discussion of your topic, stating your research question(s), as well as the significance of your topic in relationship to current scholarship, 2) an annotated bibliography of at least 20 scholarly sources; and 3) a revised five-page literature review of the key sources for your project. Students submit this to their HS490 Advisors, cc’ing wendy_walters [at] emerson.edu" title="Email Wendy Walters">Wendy Walters.

If you wish, you may invite a note-taker to your review. This may be a writing partner, classmate, or other peer. The conversations generated around your project will be very helpful to you as you move forward in the writing process, and it may be easier to be fully present in the conversation if someone else is taking notes for you. It’s also very educational to observe Thesis Reviews as a note-taker. Alternatively, you will have the option to record your review for later consultation.


Visit the Honors Program Eligibility & Admission page or contact the Office of Admission at 617-824-8600 or admission [at] emerson.edu (subject: Honors%20Program)  to learn more about applying.