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  • Trevor Moyo's thesis research involved surveying
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Honors Independent Research - Thesis/Creative Project

The capstone experience of the Honors College curriculum is the thesis, conducted across two consecutive semesters. This unique opportunity allows students to conduct scholarly research or a creative project under the direct guidance of faculty mentors.

A thesis project is required of every student who graduates from the University Honors College. The purpose of the thesis or project is to prepare the student for graduate or professional school, to provide an opportunity for the student to complete a scholarly or creative project of significant proportions, and to gain a new perspective on knowledge by becoming a contributor to the recognized knowledge in a particular field of study. This experience provides invaluable preparation and a competitive edge to students applying to graduate or professional schools.

The Honors College recognizes the importance of faculty and student involvement in research and scholarship. Theses and creative project papers are bound and placed in a permanent collection. Abstracts of recent theses are posted to the college Web site ( A special Honors College Scholarship Display is maintained in the Thesis Defense Room (HONR 203B). This display includes both unpublished creative work as well as published work in the form of books and articles. Examples of works by both students and faculty are included. Our display is updated periodically, and visitors are invited to view the display throughout the year.

Completion of the thesis requires several sequential steps and the submission of several forms, all of which are available in the Honors College main office (HONR 205). Students about to embark on their thesis project are strongly encouraged to meet with the Honors College advisor (HONR 227).

Thesis Tutorial (UH 4900)

The Honors Thesis Tutorial, a one-credit hour pass/fail course, is designed to guide students and their advisors in the completion of a thesis proposal. This course provides students who undertake the Honors thesis a transition from traditional course work to the rigors and excitement of independent research. Thesis writers should register for UH 4900 the second semester of their junior year.

The tutorial's objectives include choosing and narrowing the topic, collecting a working bibliography, preliminary reading of sources, and writing the proposal. This proposal is vetted through a committee consisting of the advisor, a representative from the Honors Faculty, and a representative from the Honors College (dean or associate dean).

This course is to precede the final step of the Honors sequence, the independent project (UH 4950). To enroll in UH 4900, students must have completed sixteen hours of lower-division Honors courses and four upper-division Honors hours, as well as maintain a GPA of 3.25 or higher. UH 4900 - Spring 2016 |  UH 4900 - Fall 2016

Honors Independent Research (UH 4950)

Once a thesis proposal is approved by the Honors Council, students may register for Honors Independent Research, a three-credit hour graded course, in the subsequent semester. Thesis writers are encouraged to enter this phase of thesis production during the first semester of their senior year so they have an additional semester to finish in the event that some extenuating circumstance delays completion of the project.   UH 4950 - Fall 2016

Students should understand that Honors Independent Research (UH 4950) is treated as a course in that credit is awarded and a grade is given. When for unforeseeable reasons a student cannot complete UH 4950 on schedule, he or she must drop or withdraw from the course to avoid getting a failing grade (F). A temporary grade of incomplete (I) may be given if the student is not graduating at the end of the semester and intends to complete the project during the following semester.

For a list of journals that publish undergraduate research, click here.

Thesis Scholarship Support

Two major sources of research funding are made available to qualified MTSU students through the College of Graduate Studies. The Undergraduate Research Program offers a series of awards ranging from $700-$3,250.

Signature and Title Pages

  • Signature Page [Word]
  • Title Page [Word]

What to Expect at Your Thesis Defense and Celebration

  1. Be prepared to give an overview of your project that is not so specialized that it will make sense to a multidisciplinary audience.
  2. Be prepared to summarize and discuss your methodology, examples, and conclusions.
  3. Did the project turn out as you expected?
  4. What lessons did you learn by doing this project?
  5. What did you discover about yourself by doing your project?
  6. If you could start over, what would you do differently?
  7. How do you think this experience will impact your future, especially if planning to go to graduate school?
  8. Be prepared for photos to be taken with your entire committee.
  9. Parents and significant others are welcome. However, they cannot go into the thesis defense room during your defense. But they can be there afterwards for the tolling of the bells, and picture taling..


Honors College thesis archives are maintained in the Thesis Defense Room (HONR 203B) and in Special Collections in the James E. Walker Library.

The Walker Library treats the theses like books in the library so if you enter "Honors" as a keyword search in the catalog (which is now Voyager), and limit the search to Special Collections this will bring up a list of Honors theses (along with a handful of other non-Honors titles). A list of theses can also be retrieved by entering the series title, "Honors Program Independent Study" as a title search. The same list of theses can be retrieved using the search box on the Special Collections webpage. Simply enter "Honors" as a keyword search.

Some students might not be aware that theses, since they are housed in Special Collections, do not circulate and need to be used in their space. Of course, the library staff will be happy to help people find theses so students can always come directly to Special Collections for assistance. The staff at the Reference Desk can also help.


For directions on how to search, click here.


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