Farquhar Honors College

Have a research question you want to investigate? Consider completing an honors thesis, a unique opportunity to conduct original independent research comparable to completing a master's thesis at the undergraduate level. Your honors thesis can be on a topic from any discipline—humanities, science, mathematics, social science, the arts—and can even involve interdisciplinary exploration.

An honors thesis typically takes two academic years to complete. Students who successfully complete and defend an approved honors thesis and fulfill the requirements below will earn the Research Citation in Honors:

  • Complete 9 credits of honors coursework, which must include at least 3 credits of HONR 4990 Independent Study

  • Achieve a cumulative NSU GPA of 3.5 or higher at the time of degree conferral

Benefits to Completing Honors Thesis

Completing an honors thesis offers significant benefits, including

  • Experiential learning

  • Faculty mentorship

  • Meaningful research skill-building

  • Academic conference opportunities

  • Publication potential

  • Advanced qualifications for graduate or professional school

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"No matter what a student plans to do in life, a thesis is always pertinent. You can tailor it to your niche or make it as broad or narrow as you like.”

Sam Falk | B.A. in Communication Studies


Contact the Dean of the Farquhar Honors College

If you're interested in pursuing an honors thesis, contact Dean Nevins at andrshaw@nova.edu to learn more. 

Select a Topic

The most important step in the honors thesis process is selecting your topic/question for study. Your topic can be from any discipline, but it should focus on an area that interests you as you'll be exploring it thoroughly over an extended period.

Select a Faculty Adviser

Selecting a faculty adviser is the second most important step in completing an honors thesis. Your faculty adviser must be a full-time faculty member at NSU (although you may have associate advisers not affiliated with NSU). This person will provide feedback and guidance on the thesis proposal and project, but you're responsible for leading and completing this project.

You should begin working with a faculty member as early as possible. You can approach a faculty member you've previously worked with, taken a course with, or met through an honors Research Roundtable and ask about their interest in assisting with your honors thesis. If they're unable to offer assistance, they may suggest a faculty colleague who may be available.

Prepare the Proposal

The proposal outlines your plans, methods, and intended outcomes for your thesis project. The proposal forms the basis for your research and will take time—as much as a full semester—to complete. The proposal will require drafts, reviews, edits, and revisions. You must complete and receive approval of your proposal before your research begins. 

You may register for up to 3 credits of the HONR 4990 Independent Study course to write your proposal. To request the course, you should consult with your thesis adviser and reach out to the dean of the Honors College. 

Secure Approval from the Faculty Adviser

Your faculty adviser must approve your project proposal before you move forward. Your faculty adviser 'signs off' once they believe you've developed a sound research program and have the ability and preparation to pursue the project successfully.

Secure Approval from the Relevant Department Chair

The department chair of your faculty adviser's department will need to approve your faculty adviser serving in this role. Please note that each program may establish specific requirements and expectations unique to that program.

Secure Approval from the Dean of the Farquhar Honors College

The final person who needs to approve your project proposal is the dean of the Farquhar Honors College. You should contact the dean when you're ready to present your proposal. The dean will approve your proposal after a 'committee' meeting with you and your faculty adviser, where you'll present your proposal via a slideshow that highlights the key aspects of your proposal. You may present in person in the Honors College suite or on Zoom. Proposal presentations generally take 10 to 15 minutes. The dean will assess the intended outcomes (personal learning and dissemination of work), budget (while there may be exceptions, the maximum awarded will usually not exceed $2,000), and scholarly challenge represented by the proposal.

Request an Honors Independent Study Course

Once the proposal is approved, your primary duty is to work on the research project. Your faculty adviser is a key resource, but they're not responsible for monitoring your work or getting you to complete the project. To receive course credit for your research, you must request the HONR 4990 Independent Study course. You need at least 3 credits of the HONR 4990 Independent Study course to receive the Research Citation in Honors. To request the course, you should consult with your thesis adviser and reach out to the dean of the Honors College. 

Please note that all research studies involving human subjects will require Institutional Review Board (IRB) review and approval. Your thesis adviser will help you make this determination and facilitate this process.

Complete and Defend Your Thesis

Successful completion of the honors thesis is determined through a formal review, including an 'oral defense' meeting with a faculty committee. Before you defend your thesis, you must submit a draft of your written thesis formatted according to the  Honors Thesis Format Guidelines (PDF). You'll receive formatting feedback and editing suggestions if necessary. Thesis signatures will be collected after we approve the formatting of your first draft.

  • Thesis Draft Deadline: October 5 or March 5 of your final semester

  • Oral Defense Deadline: October 15 or March 15 of your final semester

The final draft of your thesis, including your completed signature page, should be submitted electronically by November 15 or April 15 of your final semester.

Print and Publish Your Thesis

Once your thesis is finalized, we'll print hardbound copies of your thesis for you and your thesis adviser(s). We'll also publish a digital version of your thesis to NSUWorks with your consent. 

While each project is unique, you must precisely follow the proposal guidelines outlined below. You're fully accepted as a thesis student once your proposal is approved.

1. Statement of Thesis

The proposal must have a carefully crafted statement of thesis identifying the question addressed in the research project. A strong and clear thesis statement reflects a rationale for the project (need), a context for the work to be done, and a position regarding the expected outcome. The thesis statement is usually one paragraph long.

2. Review of Literature/Background Summary

The proposal must provide a preliminary review of literature or background summary, demonstrating that you're familiar with relevant work already performed. Since the final thesis will have a more expanded review of literature, the proposal should be preliminary (five to seven resources, at minimum).

3. Methods

Methodology, in detail, is a central element of a successful proposal. The successful review and evaluation of the proposal will be a function of the strength, relevance, fit, and capability of the methodology provided. Methods of research address all aspects of process, assessment, analysis, and evaluation—and will necessarily vary in approach based on the project. Your faculty adviser must be satisfied with your competence with the methodological tools and metrics proposed. 

4. Intended Learning Outcomes

The proposal must include a brief statement of your expected learning outcomes based on the successful completion of the project.

5. Expected Research Outcomes and Product

The proposal must include a statement on the broader expected outcomes and implications of the final product: who will this research serve, and how does this research advance inquiry? In addition, you must include a specific statement describing the final product (paper, experimental results) and a plan for dissemination and presentation: Undergraduate Student Symposium, submitted for publication, regional conference poster session, etc.

6. Budget and Resources Needed

The proposal must include a budget detailing all costs involved with the project, including any resources, travel, or supplies needed to conduct the research. For all items in your budget, please identify the month and year you anticipate making these expenditures. A successful proposal results in funding to complete the project.

Please note that the budget for your thesis only covers the costs associated with conducting your research, meaning that travel costs related to presenting or publishing your research aren't covered. 

7. Project Calendar

The proposal must include a summary timeline noting your plans and expectations for project progress and completion, including possible outlets for dissemination. This section is important for assessing whether you can realistically conduct and complete the project as presented.

To view past examples of the honors thesis, visit our NSUWorks thesis archive