The University Honors College Thesis is not only a major portion of the UHC curriculum, but an incredibly rewarding learning tool for students. Writing and defending the thesis provides students with the skills necessary to undertake similar projects in their graduate program or career field. In conjunction with receipt of the Honors Baccalaureate degree, the senior thesis provides ample evidence of the UHC student's ability to pursue independent long-term initiatives and to follow an idea to its logical conclusion. Students report that the thesis is one of their most prized academic experiences.
The Thesis Timeline
The thesis is a major project that requires a lot of time and coordination between everyone involved, from the student, to the committee, to getting it printed and turned in. There are many steps along the way. This is the thesis path. There is only one set day, and that is the due date. Everything else is up to you. Some people extend this path over a couple years, some condense it to only a couple months. You should do whatever is right for you, as long as you get it done.
- Take HC408, Intro to Thesis. This course introduces the thesis and is required for all UHC students. By the end of the course, you should have a topic and a thesis proposal turned in to the office.
- Choose Thesis Topic. Some people go through three or more thesis ideas before finally settling on one that they like. With the right topic, the thesis practically writes itself.
- Select Committee. Find a group of three or more people who represent experts in the fields of your thesis. For example, don't pick an English professor to be on your computer science committee. Remember the 2/3 rule: the committee needs at least two people who are tenure track at OSU (associate professor, professor, emeritus professor, etc.).
- Submit Thesis Proposal. Turn in a single page thesis proposal (proposal guidelines PDF), signed by your mentor, to the UHC main office. This can be done at any time, and if you change your thesis, you can turn in a new proposal.
- Research. Every project requires a lot of research. Start it early so you know as much about your project and your field as you can. Early research saves a lot of time in the long run and will avoid mistakes in the thesis.
- Write Rough Draft. Getting started is the hardest part. Just start it and write. Don't paint the house or clean the room or cook an elaborate meal. Just write. Don't focus on spelling or finding the perfect source. Just write.
- Get Revisions from Mentors. Once you have a rough draft, revise it once or twice to get the obvious bugs out. Then give it to the mentor and/or the committee members for feedback.
- Revise/Finalize. Incorporate revisions and suggestions, format the document according to the guidelines (PDF), and prepare for the thesis defense.
- Thesis Defense. Give the committee a copy of your almost final draft at least ten days before the defense. Schedule a time that works for everyone, and find a room to do your presentation. On the day of the defense you present a brief outline of your thesis work and answer questions from friends and staff in the audience. After the presentation, you will defend your work in front of the committee. This is not as stressful as many people think it is, and it is an opportunity to show off your work.
- Thesis Fair. All UHC students must prepare a poster and attend the thesis fair. This short fair is an opportunity for you to show off your work to the general public.
- Submit Thesis. Turn in the final bound and signed copy of the thesis to the main office of the UHC by 5pm on the Friday of Dead Week. This is an absolute deadline, and you will not graduate Honors if this is not complete. If you didn't get it done, don't sweat. You can push graduation back a term. See the thesis guidelines for specific details about printing and binding the thesis.
- Celebrate. You're done! Congratulations! Take a look at the encouraging words to see what other people thought of the experience.
Originally established by an anonymous donor and supported by generous contributors, the Excellence Fund provides stipends to partially reimburse students for thesis-related expenses, excluding production of the final document and expenses associated with committee meetings. Reimbursement stipends are available each term on a limited basis. Stipends in the amount of $1000 to support research related expenses are available each term.
Criteria: Requires endorsement by major professor certifying that funds are requested for actual thesis research expenses. Funds may be allocated from a variety of accounts supporting thesis research. Students may only apply during terms in which they are registered for classes.
Online Webform Application | Paper Application
Thesis Poster Guidelines
Each graduate is expected to put together a display outlining their senior thesis/project that includes their name, mentor and title.
Set-up will take place from 10:00am - 11:15am on the date of the event. Please plan to have your display set in the Valley Library no later than 11:15am. Space is asssigned, so be sure to check in at the front.
Although students are encouraged to staff their display and answer questions from attendees, it is okay if you have to attend a class. However, we do ask that you stop by during your breaks.
If you have special needs such as electricity for your display, please contact us about them.
Innovative and interactive displays are strongly encouraged. Remember that your display should explain your thesis in a way that a layperson will understand.
If you elect to display a poster, poster board may be purchased at the OSU Bookstore, or at any local office supply store. In addition, UHC students are eligible to use Student Multimedia Services to design and print out a poster. The Student Multimedia Services Web site outlines hours of operation and equipment.
When designing your display please take into consideration that you may be sharing an 8 foot table with another student.
From this event, three displays/projects will be selected to receive the Outstanding Senior Thesis of the Year award. This award comes with a cash prize! In order to be considered your poster must have your name and your mentor's name clearly displayed.
Thesis Defense Guidelines & Notification
The student is responsible for scheduling the defense and notifying the UHC. Contact the UHC to schedule a classroom and time; the UHC classrooms are often available for use and the main UHC office (229 Strand, 7-6400) is available for scheduling assistance. Students should then notify the UHC office either online by filling out the Thesis Defense Notification form or in person at least two weeks prior to the defense date. The defense should take about one hour, but rooms should be booked for a 2 hour time block to allow for any A/V set-up and take-down time. An A/V shakedown before the day of the defense is strongly recommended.
The student should submit an “examination copy” of the thesis manuscript to each member of the committee at least ten days prior to the scheduled defense date.
The student should bring a final copy of the thesis Approval Page to the defense to obtain signatures. See the UHC Thesis Guidelines for format and paper requirements.
The thesis defense is comparable in form and process to a Master’s student defense but the substance is clearly at an undergraduate level.
- The mentor chairs all portions of the defense.
- The mentor should call the room to order and introduce the student to those in attendance.
- The student should present a summary of his or her work in no more than 30 minutes.
- The mentor or student should invite questions from the public (family, friends, and any other non-committee members). The committee may ask questions, but in-depth examination should be reserved for the closed ‘executive’ session.
- The mentor should then thank the student and respectfully dismiss public members from the room. All but the committee members, mentor, and student should exit the room.
- There can be a short break prior to the closed session.
- During closed session, the committee asks the student more in-depth questions regarding the thesis.
- The student is then excused while the committee confers. The student should stay nearby.
- The student is then asked to return to the room to receive comments and (positive!) feedback from the committee.
- Committee members may provide both general and specific recommendations for changes to the manuscript. Explicit edits can be provided on the examinations copies.
- It is the shared responsibility of the student and the mentor to ensure that the written document and the student’s overall readiness are such that only minor corrections to the thesis should be needed. Barring majority dissent, all committee members should sign the Approval Page and return it to the student for inclusion in the final manuscript. The signed Approval Page signifies completion of a successful defense. Contact the UHC office immediately if there are any questions or concerns.
View Past Theses
Since 2006, the UHC has been posting all theses online at the Valley Library. To search these theses and more, visit library’s Scholar’s Archive. For a complete list and hard copies of the UHC theses from all years, come by our office in 229 Strand Agriculture Hall.
The thesis is a difficult, but important, part of the University Honors College Experience. If you get frustrated with your project, read the comments from past students about their experience. Most find that after all the hard work and frustration, it was definitely worth it.
- "What a rewarding fulfillment! I am very proud to be a part of the Honors College. I am very grateful for the experience." -- Jenessa Murmester, Biology
- "I am so happy to have completed it, and this project turned out so well, it will be a great addition to my portfolio." --Shanna Buyle, Fine Arts
- "While at times I was incredibly stressed and frustrated, the thesis project was the most valuable, challenging, and rewarding educational experience of my college career." -- Amy Mattsen, Microbiology
- "Turning this in I feel like I've accomplished something I never thought I would, and I am excited for the next challenge. I feel prepared." --Irene Ridgway, German
- "The UHC Thesis was the single most valuable experience of my undergraduate collegiate career. It led me to my career choice and helped shape my plans for the future." --Andrea Hill, Spring 2002, Animal Sciences
The thesis is both a culmination and a stepping stone; it will be one of the most rewarding achievements of your time at OSU. This site is designed to provide helpful hints and links for students in any phase of the thesis project.
One great resource is Eric Hill, the UHC writing instructor. Eric offers a series of thesis workshops and holds office hours. He can be reached in the UHC Office (STAG 229) or by email. Please contact the UHC office or check our calendar for workshop dates.