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Honors Thesis Guidelines


The Honors Thesis provides students with an opportunity to develop the essential scholarly tool of evidence-based argument, engaging a topic or question of interest, with guidance from faculty.

Completing the Honors Thesis requires a student to attempt an insightful contribution to his/her critical, scholarly, or scientific field.

A successfully completed Honors Thesis demonstrates:

Independent Thinking
Honors students at schools throughout the U.S. engage in this process and overwhelmingly report it as a rewarding experience, and the presence of an Honors Thesis on your transcript and resume sets you apart from others in a way that admissions boards and employers find very persuasive.

What You Can Expect

Regardless of profession, the ability to independently develop a novel idea, explore the idea, analyze the results of experimentation and/or primary texts, and synthesize existing information and theory to draw conclusions is of great value.

Although this is to be a student-generated project, students will work under the guidance of a faculty mentor, with the project based on an idea the student had a significant role in developing.

The thesis advisor, or chair, will be the student’s guide in this process.

Regardless of major area, an Honors Thesis involves choosing a question or an issue to explore more deeply. In many fields, this will be a research project with data collection. It might be a case study or an examination of primary documents/texts.

To learn more about writing a thesis, consider purchasing How to Write a B.A. Thesis: A Practical Guide from your First Ideas to your Finished Paper. There may also be a copy available in your Honors Library.

Faculty Mentor

Students should seek a faculty mentor with whom they can work productively to complete the proposed project. The faculty mentor serves as the student's thesis committee chair.

The best mentors are typically professors that the student has had a course with in his/her major, and who explored topics of interest to the student. Students can ask professors directly or go through an honors administrator to assist in the process of acquiring a thesis chair.

Students should consult with their thesis chair to develop a reasonable timeline that accommodates the necessary work and which allows faculty mentors enough time to read and respond to drafts and installments.

The timeline is a mandatory part of the Honors Thesis contract.

The thesis chair plays a crucial role in helping guide a student through the process of completing an Honors Thesis. This mentor should begin by helping the student define a solid topic for the project—in most cases, this involves the selection of a research question that is interesting and weighty but that can be grappled with in the time frame available.

It is okay to start with a broad issue; the goal is to choose an aspect of that broad theme that will be the focus of the project. After the question for the project is clearly defined, the thesis chair will help the student learn how to find out about previous work on the topic and appropriate approaches to the question.

After the question for the project is clearly defined, the thesis chair will help the student learn how to find out about previous work on the topic and appropriate approaches to the question.

Finally, the thesis chair will meet regularly with the student to discuss the progress of the research as it is unfolding, helping the student through the process of completing a solid piece of work.

Length and Scope

The length and scope of Honors Thesis papers vary widely by discipline, but they share a common characteristic in seeking to explore ideas and problems in creative and original ways.

An Honors Thesis allows students to explore their aptitude for research within a more extended and individualized framework than that afforded by courses.

A successful thesis paper commonly runs 12-25 pages in length, but students should not feel restricted by this guideline. The length that is appropriate depends on the question, the norms for the discipline, and the requirements of the thesis advisor. In most cases, the appropriate length will approximate the number of words in a typical journal article in the field.

Thesis Timeline

The Honors Program relies on the expertise and judgment of faculty to ensure high-quality performance from honors students. The thesis chair verifies the quality of the research project at multiple stages.
  • First, the thesis chair must sign the student’s Honors Thesis contract form to indicate acceptance of the parameters of the project.
  • Thesis chairs follow the progress of the student’s work by holding them to the timeline provided on the contract.
  • The thesis chair reviews the final paper before the student sends it to other thesis committee members for reading.
  • Finally, thesis chairs sign the approval page of the completed final version of the hard copy of the Honors Thesis.

It is recommended that students initiate the thesis process at least two semesters prior to graduation by meeting with a professor to discuss possible ideas and submitting a thesis contract.

The thesis contract identifies the topic, issue or question that the project will address, why it is a worthy issue to explore, and how the student proposes to approach the topic.

Expected findings or predictions are stated and a timeline for the project is established. Although it is possible to complete the thesis in one semester, the standard expectation is that it will carry over into a second semester.

The first two months (or more) of most successful projects will be spent reading. A common mistake that results in wasted time occurs when the student attempts to plan out their thesis before examining the published literature on the topic.

This is like building a house before buying and surveying the land on which it will be placed. Once the previous studies have been read, the project can be planned out.

Proposed research that uses human subjects must be submitted for Institutional Review Board for approval. The thesis chair should provide the student with assistance in navigating the process for seeking IRB approval. Students are advised to submit their proposal to the IRB at least seven or eight months before the projected thesis completion date.

Honors Research Methods

One helpful way to navigate the thesis requirement is to enroll in HNRS 3000 Honors Research Methods at least one semester before completing the thesis.

In HNRS 3000, the instructor will guide students through the process of determining a topic, finding a thesis chair, researching, and writing the project proposal.

Institutional Review Board Approval

Proposed research that uses human subjects must be submitted to the Institutional Review Board for approval.

The thesis chair should provide the student with assistance in navigating the process for seeking IRB approval. Students are advised to submit their proposal to the IRB at least seven or eight months before the projected thesis completion date.

Formatting Your Thesis


  • Left: 1.5 inches
  • Right: 1 inch
  • Top: 1 inch
  • Bottom: 1 inch


1. Title page (see following sample) with original signatures
2. Acknowledgements
3. Body of Text
4. Works Cited or Bibliography
5. Appendices (if needed)


  • Use the citation style set by Department or Faculty Mentor appropriate for field of study

Page Numbering

  • Must be consistent using either the top right corner or bottom of page
  • Must be consecutive
  • Title page should not be numbered—all other pages should include a number

Type Setting (all pages, charts, graphs)

• 12 point font using Times New Roman, Arial or other standard font
• Proofread carefully

Title Page

  1. Center the text on the page.
  2. Place title at top of page.
  3. Press enter three times.
  4.  Include the following text: 

               A Thesis Submitted to 
               the Faculty of the University of North Georgia
               In Partial Fulfillment
               Of the Requirements for the Degree
               Bachelor of (Science/Art) in (major)
               With Honors 

          5. Press enter four times. 
          6. Write your name.
          7. Write your semester (Fall 2018) under your name.

Submitting Your Thesis

Submission of a completed Honors Thesis/Capstone Project is required for honors graduation. An electronic and hard copy of the thesis should be submitted following the guidelines and format listed below.

Hard Copy

  • A full hard copy of the thesis should be printed on 8 ½ x 11 paper on a quality printer.
  •  Pages should be printed single-sided only and it must be unbound and unstapled.
  • If color is used in charts, graphs, or images, those pages should be printed on a color printer.

Electronic Copy

  • The electronic copy should be in one Word or pdf file and follow the guidelines below.
  • Submission of the electronic copy will require the thesis chair’s verification, so it should be done in advance of the deadline.
  • Once the thesis chair approves the submission, it will be uploaded for viewing on the UNG Open Institutional Repository.

Thesis Alternatives

Any student who proposes to complete one of the following as an alternative to the thesis must obtain permission to do so from his/her campus Honors Program Director.

ATEP - research based study abroad or paper describing potential interventions at practicum site

Biology – research based study abroad or REU/FUSE

Chemistry – REU/FUSE


Education – approved field placement at a more challenging school (will also require a written end product in which the student discusses their experience and synthesizes the learning achieved through it)


Nursing – medical study abroad trip or paper describing potential interventions at practicum site

Physics – REU/FUSE

Poli Sci/International Affairs - paper describing potential interventions at internship site

Psychology – REU/FUSE

Students satisfying the thesis requirement via the study abroad or REU/FUSE route are required to give a presentation on their work at an honors meeting or another venue agreed to by the Honors Council. 

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