What is an Honors Thesis?
An Honors thesis is an in-depth, independent project that allows students to explore a topic that they are passionate under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The Honors Program entails a two-year, 9-credit-hour sequence that culminates in a tangible report—the Honors thesis. In most cases, students are guided through the research process as they work to answer a research question that they have formulated themselves, often through data collection and analysis.
Other types of scholarship, for example environmental art, poetry, and dance, can also be selected for the Honors thesis project, provided that the topic is pre-approved by the PitE Program Director or his or her designate.
Why Pursue an Honors Thesis?
Most importantly, an Honors thesis provides students with the invaluable experience of creating a substantial scholarly project from start to finish. Completion of an Honors thesis is evidence of a student’s determination, skills, and intelligence that showcases their work to academics and potential employers. As an expert on their topic, students can use their knowledge as a foundation of expertise to pursue their future interests.
Additionally, producing an Honors thesis will allow a student to graduate PitE with Honors. Recognized on the student’s diploma and transcript, their project will be designated either “with Highest Honors”, “with High Honors”, or “with Honors,” based upon a faculty evaluation of their Honors thesis.
How to Get Started
Foremost, students should find a topic that they are passionate about and a faculty advisor with similar interests who is willing to serve as their mentor throughout the project. Then, students must fill out an application by November 19 of their junior year.
Prospective Honors Students should focus on maintaining a grade point average of 3.50 or better, since it is a requirement to graduating with Honors. However, students do not need a 3.50 GPA to begin pursuit of an Honors Thesis, and students who produce a thesis without maintaining the GPA requirement will still be recognized for their work, it will simply not garner them the title of having graduated with an Honors designation.
Honors Thesis Presentation
On the winter term study day, PitE hosts an honors symposium where graduating seniors present their work to their peers, advisors, family, and friends. Students interested in completing an honors thesis are welcome to attend this event. Click here to learn more about this year's Honors Symposium.
Attention Students Studying Abroad!
The Honors Program is not recommended to students who will be studying abroad during their junior year. These students are strongly advised to find an advisor who will approve a research proposal before they go abroad, and they will be expected to meet the program's regular deadlines. It is possible for students anticipating study abroad in the junior year to apply to the Honors Program in the fall semester of the sophomore year and begin the Honors Program in the winter term of the sophomore year. The Program in the Environment Director or Associate Director makes decisions about admission to the Honors Program.