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 the same cloth as a master’s thesis while not requiring quite the complexity or length. What is required, that may be lacking in a master’s thesis, is placing the student’s work in context. Why is there interest in the topic? Where does it fit within the student’s field intellectually and historically? Furthermore, the student needs to have an introductory chapter explaining his or her thesis to the non-expert and a concluding chapter explaining what the accomplishment of the thesis was to the 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 a deeper amount of work allowing the non-expert to understand the place and meaning of the work.
Find a more detailed description of a honors thesis in The Honors Thesis: Context and Communication. Standards for graduate theses at Mississippi State University may be found here.
Those students intending to graduate as an Honors College Scholar should, at the beginning of their junior year, identify a faculty mentor and a thesis topic. The student may register for Honors Thesis credit during their junior and/or senior years, depending on the length and complexity of the research project.
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 his or her thesis before a committee consisting of the thesis advisor, another scholar of faculty rank in the field of the thesis topic, and a member of the Honors College staff. The committee should be selected by the student and formed before the student starts working. The student should sign up for the Honors Thesis class, HON 4093, while writing the thesis.
It is our goal to have most – if not all – defenses during Thesis Week, which will be held in April. For students defending in the fall semester, Thesis Week will be held in November. Thesis defenses will take place in Nunnelee Hall classroom C302 (located on the third floor) or Griffis Hall conference room C201 (located on the second floor). If the dates scheduled are not possible, the student should contact the Interim Associate Dean for Research, Dr. Anastasia Elder, at firstname.lastname@example.org about other possible dates.
To schedule the thesis defense, the student should contact Ms. Alice Chandler at email@example.com or call (662) 325-2522. The student will receive a list of available times to schedule his or her defense. Time slots are first come, first serve. The student defending is responsible for contacting and coordinating a time for his or her thesis advisor, committee person, and Honors College representative. An official defense time should be scheduled with Honors at least three weeks prior to the start of Thesis Week in the fall or spring semester.
The student is expected to provide a draft of the thesis to his or her committee members 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 with the signed signature page to the Honors College main office, and also, email a pdf file of the thesis including the signed signature page to Dr. Oppenheimer.