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 (www.mtsu.edu/~honors). 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 This display includes both unpublished creative work as well as published work in the form of books and articles.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.

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. 

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 taking..


Honors College thesis archives are maintained in the Thesis Defense Room (HONR 203B).

Thesis Archives Collection at Walker Library

Honors College thesis archives collection are now preserved online through Walker Library’s institutional repository called JEWLScholar and are indexed in the library’s catalog. There are two ways to access the Honors Thesis Collection.

One way is to visit http://jewlscholar.mtsu.edu. Under “Collections in JEWLScholar@MTSU” located in the center of the homepage, click on Theses and Dissertations. Select Honors College Theses to browse submissions from 2015 forward. These items are also searchable by author, title, subject, date, or keyword. When current students are preparing a thesis for submission, the Honors College will provide a form for the student to sign acknowledging the institutional repository as a platform for accessing the thesis online. If a student does not want his/her thesis preserved or discoverable online, then the student must indicate that on the Honors College thesis submission form in the space provided.

The Honors College Theses collection is also discoverable in VuFind, the library’s public interface of the library catalog. This MTSU Theses collection in the catalog includes Ph.D. dissertations, Masters theses and Honors theses. You can limit the search parameters to only include Honors theses by typing “honors” in the search box and clicking “Find” to repopulate with only Honors theses as depicted in the image here:

The thesis archives prior to 2015, are printed copies maintained in Special Collections (4th floor) of the James E. Walker Library. These are also cataloged and depicted with the red arrow in the image here.

For instructions on how to navigate JEWLScholar and how to use your thesis published in JEWLScholar, click here.


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