Defense Semester

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Students complete their HITM project by way of a formal defense in front of their supervisory committee during their final term of HITM work. Following the defense, the project must be approved by all members of the supervisory committee.

To learn all about the Defense Semester, read the Honors in the Major Handbook. The handbook provides a thorough, more in-depth overview of the information provided below.


Within the first four weeks of the defense semester, students must schedule the day, time, and location of their defense and get it approved by the full supervisory committee. All committee members are expected to be present at the defense. Students with creative projects that require special space reservations, technical considerations, or coordination of performers may want to consider turning in the Defense Announcement early for logistical reasons.

Once the defense is scheduled, complete the Defense Announcement Form and submit it via the online portal here.


There are two options for an Honors in the Major project, the Research Project and the Creative Project. Both require some written paper and should have a title page and signature page in the traditional format for an honors thesis. You can download a template title and signature page here.

All HITM students are encouraged to utilize built-in headings and alt text captions to make their project accessible to screen readers. Students should consult the Honors in the Major Handbook for additional information about screen reader accessibility.


Students are required to defend their HITM project in front of their faculty supervisory committee by the last day of classes in their defense semester. Typically, the defense will take place in a classroom or conference room, or in cases of creative projects, in theaters, art galleries, or other performance venues. It is the student's responsibility to ensure the location is reserved and available during the time of the defense.

All committee members and the student must attend the entire defense in real time. While defenses can be held remotely under extenuating circumstances, the Honors Program strongly prefers that the defense be held in person. This is so that the student can have the full experience of receiving collaborative feedback from the committee and developing important professional communication skills essential for success in most professions. If an in-person defense is not possible or prudent, students may work with their faculty director and committee members to schedule a virtual defense in real time that can be completed using Zoom or other distance technology. Students do not need permission from the Honors Program to complete a virtual defense if one is deemed necessary.

Virtual Defense Guidelines:

Committees may deviate from these recommended guidelines where appropriate:

  • All committee members and the student must be able to participate in real time via audio and/or video throughout the entire defense. All efforts should be made to conduct the defense in real-time video, but committee members may use audio conferencing in exceptional circumstances. If extenuating circumstances prevent the participation of a committee member, consult the Honors in the Major Handbook for additional information about how to request an exception to this policy.
  • The means of communication for the student and committee members must be agreed upon in advance. If needed, technology needs should be arranged with the facility in which the defense is being held as soon as possible. The student and all committee members must be notified of any changes to the set-up prior to the defense. On the day of defense, if the set-up differs significantly from the prior agreement, the student must be allowed to reschedule without penalty.
  • Any materials needed for the defense presentation should be transmitted to committee members prior to the defense.
  • Any technical support staff needed to operate equipment during the examination must observe strict confidentiality.
  • The defense conference period should be scheduled for longer than may be needed to allow for any delays resulting from technical issues during the defense.
  • Should a technical failure arise that cannot be resolved, the faculty director in consultation with the committee members will determine if the defense should continue. If the defense is cancelled, the defense will be rescheduled and there will be no penalty to the student.
  • Students should circulate their Defense Certificate Form among committee members via, an e-signature platform that offers free trials. Alternately, the faculty director can use DocuSign to circulate the Defense Certificate Form on behalf of the student. Or, all HITM forms have now been formatted to accept electronic signatures directly, should the committee prefer this option. Once signed and completed, the student should submit a PDF of the completed form through the online portal here by the Defense Certificate Form deadline.
  • Students should submit the final draft of their HITM project, complete with the template title and signature page, to the DigiNole archive by the Defense Certificate Form deadline. Please note that the signature page should be completed with the committee members’ names, but signatures on this page are not a requirement.
  • All students are encouraged to utilize built-in headings and alt text captions to make their HITM project accessible to screen readers. Students should consult the Honors in the Major Handbook for additional information about screen reader accessibility.


Upon successful completion of the defense, students must submit the following forms:

  1. Defense Certificate: must be signed by all members of the supervisory committee.
  2. Embargo Request Form: Students must submit their finished project to the FSU DigiNole archive after their oral defense. This means their HITM project will be listed in the DigiNole archive and thus searchable by the public. That said, students have the option to submit an Embargo Request Form at the same time they submit the signed Defense Certificate. The Embargo Request Form is used to request that the HITM project be unavailable to download from the FSU DigiNole archive for a specific amount of time. Embargoes are not recommended for most HITM projects but are available, particularly for projects in line for publication. This form is optional and should be signed by the student and the faculty director if deemed necessary.


All HITM projects published at FSU are housed in the DigiNole archive. Students must submit their final signed project to the archive as a PDF file by the final day of classes in order to officially earn Honors in the Major.



You must secure all signatures on one form. Do not submit three different PDF files, each with one signature. Your options for securing electronic signatures include:

  • HelloSign - An e-signature platform with a free option to receive three signatures per month, or a free trial to receive unlimited signatures. Please note that if you opt for the free trial, you should choose the monthly option ($15/month) instead of the annual option ($180/year) in the event the trial ends and you are charged.
  • DocuSign - An e-signature platform free to use for FSU faculty and staff. You may either ask your faculty director to circulate a form on your behalf for signatures, or you may pay $10/month for a single user account for sending out up to five documents a month.
  • Electronic signatures on a PDF - All HITM forms have been formatted for electronic signatures. If your faculty director and committee members are able to sign a PDF electronically, you may circulate the same PDF file to each individual. 
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