Defense Semester

Students complete their Honors Thesis by way of a formal defense in front of their faculty committee during their final term of thesis work. Following the defense, the thesis must be approved by all members of the faculty 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.

Important Deadlines:

  • The Defense Announcement Deadline for Fall 2020 is Friday, September 18, 2020, by 4:30 pm Eastern.
  • The Defense Certificate Form and thesis submission to the FSU Research Repository for Fall 2020 are due Friday, December 4, 2020, by 4:30 pm Eastern.

Psychology majors should submit their defense paperwork and other materials through the online portal here. 

Electronic Signature Options

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 ($20/month) instead of the annual options ($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 thesis 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 thesis director and committee members are able to sign a PDF electronically, you may circulate the same PDF file to each individual. 

Defense Announcement

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 faculty 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 if you are a Psychology major, or if you are not a Psychology major, email a PDF to HITM@fsu.edu.

The Thesis

There are two options for an Honors in the Major Thesis project, the Research Thesis 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.


The Defense

Given the current recommendation to social distance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are suspending for the Fall 2020 semester the requirement that the majority of the supervisory committee attend the oral defense in person. In other words, HITM students are now encouraged to conduct their oral defense in real time via distance technology. We recommend that students and thesis directors should prioritize the utilization of distance technology for defenses during this time given the circumstances and complications of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes using free technology services available to all FSU students, faculty, and staff such as Zoom. Neither students nor faculty should be required to attend an in-person defense, if they are uncomfortable doing so.

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.
  • 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 Thesis Director in consultation with the supervisory 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 HelloSign.com, an e-signature platform that offers free trials. Alternately, the thesis 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 if they are a Psychology major. Otherwise, all other majors will email a PDF of the completed form to HITM@fsu.edu by the December 4 deadline.
  • Students should submit the final draft of their honors thesis, complete with the template title and signature page, to the DigiNole archive by the December 4 deadline. Please note that the signature page should be completed with the committee members’ names, but signatures on this page are not a requirement.

The Paperwork

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

  1. Defense Certificate: must be signed by all members of the faculty committee.
  2. Embargo Request Form: this optional form is used to request that the HITM thesis be hidden on the archive for up to twenty-four (24) months after submission. It is not recommended for general use but is available as an option if the display on DigiNole could negatively impact the student's future plans (mainly for creative projects and papers in line for publication). Students requesting a continuation of their soon-to-expire embargo should also use this form. This form should be signed by the student and the thesis director.

The Archive

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

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