The Honors Thesis


Writing your senior honors thesis

Writing a senior honors thesis is a major commitment.  In the Government Department here at Wesleyan less than a dozen graduating seniors typically complete an honors thesis in any given year. Some students begin their research during their Junior year, collecting information while on study abroad programs or finding the genesis of their thesis in a course paper. Information on our honors program is available here.

If you are considering the possibility of writing a senior honors thesis, then it may be useful to examine past honors theses.  Look especially at theses written on similar subjects and note their lengths and the varieties of ways that students organize their material. An honors thesis is typically the length of a short book.

A logical way to use this website would be to concentrate on the following pages in roughly the following order.

  1. Select and begin researching a topic.
  2. Formulate a research question and thesis
  3. Choose an appropriate research method
  4. Write a research prospectus
  5. Do more research and collect data, this time focused on answering the research question, and utilizing the chosen method to assess answers to that question
  6. Make a tentative outline
  7. Organize your notes
  8. Write your first draft
  9. Seek feedback on that draft
  10. Revise
  11. Submit

Regardless of what you plan to do it is always important to be in touch with your primary advisor and/or course instructor.  They may have advice or instructions that vary from those presented here.  This website is meant to be used as a general guide, to supplement — not replace — what they provide.

Completing and Submitting your Honors Thesis

By the beginning of March you should be nearing the final stages of your thesis writing experience. Original research should be completed.  Writing, editing, and revising should be the primary focus. Here is some advice for those final stages.

Working through the Final Stages

  • Write! Stay true to your deadlines.
  • Give your advisor plenty of time to read the final drafts.
    • You should aim to have a complete draft of the entire project ready 2 weeks prior to the deadline. That is a minimal amount of time to have the time for (a) readers evaluate and provide feedback and (b) you to respond to that feedback with revisions.
  • Get “fresh eyes”. Both you and  your advisor have worked on this so long it is possible that you have begun to assume knowledge on the part of the reader. Steps in logic, gaps in evidence, and the more mundane issues of errors in punctuation and grammar might be missed. A pair of fresh eyes can help with all of this.

Submitting the Final Project

  • Pay attention to the university’s formatting and submission requirements.
    • The Jellybean Papers are the authoritative source!
      • Formatting requirements are specific (margins, fonts etc.)
      • There is a title page template
      • The deadline is a HARD deadline.  Pay attention to the DAY and the TIME.
  • Ask your advisor whether they need a printed copy in addition to the version that they will be able to access online.