December 2020 Adjustments to Thesis Submission Process due to COVID-19

Follow the guidelines laid out in the Honors Senior Project/Thesis Formatting and Submission Directions (linked to the right). If your faculty mentor(s) are unalbe to provide a physical signature in person, they may email their approval to Dr. Tamy Burnett. If you have concerns related to in-person submission of your completion form, please also reach out to Dr. Burnett. 

What is the Honors Senior Project/Thesis?

The Honors Thesis/Senior Project is the culmination of your work as an undergraduate Honors student. This is an extended project that utilizes the skills and knowledge you have gained during your undergraduate education to demonstrate your ability to be an active, engaged, scholarly citizen. This project may take a variety of forms, depending on your major/college, your future goals, and your interests.

Students may have the opportunity to participate in a "Starting Your Honors Senior Project" Workshop or receive individual advising about the thesis process from an Honors advisor. 

In four colleges (Arts & Sciences, CASNR, Hixon-Lied Fine & Performing Arts, and Journalsim and Mass Communication), students may also submit a thesis to the college as part of the process to earn a level of distinction. Submitting to both Honors and your college will require two sets of paperwork. See more information on the College processes at the bottom of this page. 



In the traditional research thesis, the student conducts research appropriate to her/his field of study and writes a paper about the research results. This option is most popular for students applying to professional or graduate schools, those entering professions where research is a key skillset, or who find enjoyment in the intellectual challenge of inquiry, investigation, and experimentation. Expected scope of research project and length of written thesis will vary by discipline, but is generally equivalent to the work produced as a seminar project in a master’s class in that field.

Beckman Scholars, May 3, 2013

Creative Project

This option is similar to the traditional thesis in that it involves research and a broad knowledge of the relevant discipline as the foundation for the creative project. Building upon that foundation, the student produces a creative demonstration of skill and knowledge appropriate to the field of study. This option is most popular for students in the fine or performing arts. Often, the creative project is accompanied by a written document explaining the creative choices the student made and situating them within contexts of various artistic styles or movements. Expected scope of the creative project will vary by discipline, but exceeds simply an undergraduate senior show or recital.

Honors student playing piano in Neihardt


The Honors Thesis/Senior Project is a long-term project that will require you to plan ahead. The average student spends about a year from project inception to completion, although you may certainly invest more time and some projects can be successfully completed in a little less than a year.

Here is a sample timeline for a student planning to graduate in May 2022:

Graduation timeline

You may pick up a copy of this timeline with a blank version for you and your faculty mentor to complete in the Honors Office or download here.

The Thesis Prospectus form is due to Honors midway through your sixth semester in Honors, per the dates in the chart to the right. However, if you plan to graduate early, we advise you to submit the Prospectus form early – at least by the start of the semester one year prior to your anticipated graduation date. So, if you plan to graduate in May or August 2020, you would submit your prospectus no later than March 11, 2019. For December 2020 graduates, the prospectus is recommended no later than October 28, 2019.

Please note that if you are also submitting your thesis to your college in order to be considered for a level of distinction, you will need to submit a separate prospectus to them and the college timelines and due dates may differ. Please see further information about the college-based distinction process below.

*Separate prospectus may be due to college. See links to college requriements below.

**Defense only applicable if submitting the thesis to your college for distinction consideration.

The finished thesis and signed Thesis Completion form are due to the Honors Program office by the following dates:

Expected Graduation DateProspectus Due DateThesis Due Date
December 2018 October 23, 2017 October 22, 2018
May 2019 March 12, 2018 March 11, 2019
August 2019 July 13, 2018 July 15, 2019
December 2019 October 22, 2018 October 28, 2019
May 2020 March 11, 2019 March 16, 2020
August 2020 July 15, 2019 July 13, 2020
December 2020 October 28, 2019 October 26, 2020
May 2021 March 16, 2020 March 8, 2021
August 2021 July 13, 2020 July 12, 2021
December 2021 October 26, 2020 October 27, 2021

Graduating with Distinction

In some colleges, students may use their Honors thesis/senior project to earn distinction at graduation. Requirements and expectations for a thesis/senior project earning distinction vary by college and sometimes department, but separate prospectus and evaluation paperwork is always required.

FAQs about Thesis/Senior Project