Honors Thesis

Welcome to the page for the Shackouls Honors College Honors Thesis. An honors thesis, while required for all students in the Cursus Honorum and Provost Scholars, is an option for all honors students. Writing an honors thesis affords the student an opportunity to explore in detail a topic of interest in his or her major. The honors thesis also helps prepare the student for the rigors and expectations of graduate and professional school.

The honors thesis should be of a cloth with a master’s thesis in the same area while not requiring quite the complexity or length of a master’s thesis. What is required, that may be lacking in a master’s thesis, is placing the student’s work in context. Why is there topic of interest? Where does it fit within the student’s field intellectually and historically? Furthermore, the student needs to have an introductory chapter explaining the thesis to the non-expert and a concluding chapter explaining what the accomplishment of the thesis was to a non-expert. This will place the honors thesis somewhere between a major undergraduate research paper and a master’s thesis in terms of both quality and quantity of work on the technical side and deeper amount of work on allowing a non-expert to understand the place and meaning of the work. Standards for graduate theses at Mississippi State University may be found at http://www.grad.msstate.edu/current/thesis/.

A fuller description of what an honors thesis is can be found at Honors thesis context and communication.

Formal Requirements

Be the end of the student’s second year of study, it is expected that the student will have stated their intention of completing an honors thesis.

The student should, of course, have a thesis advisor who approves the topic of the thesis and provides close supervision of the work. Furthermore, the student is expected to defend her or his thesis before a committee consisting of the thesis advisor, another scholar of faculty rank in the field of the thesis, and a member of the honors college staff. The committee should be formed before the student starts working. The student should sign up for the honors thesis class, HON 4093, while writing the thesis.

The advisors responsibilities may be found at Expectations for an honors thesis advisor.


It is our goal to have most if not all defenses during Thesis Week, which for the 2016-2017 academic year will be April 3-7, 2017. If this is not possible, the student should contact the director for undergraduate research about other possible dates.

To schedule the thesis defense, the student should contact Ms. Katelyn Wright at kwright@honors.msstate.edu or 325-5921.

The advisor needs to let the honors college know if the student passed by e-mail before the end of the fourteenth week of class. It is expected that the committee will have a draft of the thesis with sufficient time to read it before the defense. Before the end of classes in the last week of the semester the student must turn in a hard copy of the thesis along with a signed signature page and also a pdf file of the thesis including the signed signature page.

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