Honors liaisons serve as a point of connection between students interested in pursuing an honors thesis and faculty members who would be suitable thesis directors or committee members. These liaisons are invaluable resources for students who know what they want to research and are hoping to connect with faculty who have similar interests. Many liaisons also serve as thesis directors and can answer most questions about the general process of completing an honors thesis.
The Honors Program allows individual academic departments to set admissions standards for their Honors in the Major students that are stricter than those laid out by our program. The honors liaisons can answer questions about department-specific Honors in the Major requirements.
The thesis director serves as the primary supervisor and instructor of record for the honors thesis. Ideally this should be a tenured or tenure-track professor in your department with whom you have already worked and developed a relationship. Specialized Faculty and other permanent instructional and research staff are eligible to serve as a thesis director so long as they have a terminal degree in the field of study (a Ph.D. for most academic programs) or have graduate faculty status. Otherwise, the Director of Honors will review the instructor’s CV and, if their professional expertise and experience is deemed central to the student’s thesis work, they may serve as co-director with one other committee member who is either in a tenured or tenure-earning position, who has graduate faculty status, or who has a terminal research degree in a relevant field. In units where there are no tenured or tenure-track faculty, the committee may be comprised entirely of specialized faculty so long as the committee chair meets the standards above (terminal degree or graduate faculty status) and, whenever possible, at least one of the other two required members is in a tenure-track or tenured position. Students should consult the Honors in the Major Handbook for additional information.
The thesis director chairs the faculty committee for the thesis defense, and serves as a mentor and resource for the student throughout the process. In addition to this, the thesis director is responsible for assigning a letter grade for each semester of honors work.
The best thesis directors are helpful, proactive, demanding, collaborative and supportive. Each academic year, students are encouraged to nominate their thesis directors for the Honors Thesis Mentor award.
When you have recruited your thesis director, they will guide you in selecting your other committee members, which must include one additional faculty member from your major department, and one faculty member from another department. You have the option of choosing a fourth committee member from any academic department if desired.
Faculty committee members do not need to be expert in the specific area of the research, but should have an interest in the topic and in helping the student. They generally have much less responsibility than the thesis director, but do need to commit to the full project timeline. The full supervisory committee must approve and sign the prospectus, as well as attend the thesis defense. Students should begin to contact the faculty they would like on their committee no later than the 2nd week of their first research semester.