General Guidelines for
Honors Theses

Types of Honors Theses

There are two types of Honors Theses:  Departmental and General.

The Departmental Thesis would be in an area of engineering/science/math (research, praxis, etc.) under the supervision of an engineering/math/science professor.  This would also include interdisciplinary (inter-departmental) research.

The General Honors Thesis would do research in an area related to engineering, but not directly engaged in what would normally be regarded as an engineering problem.  Examples of this would include engineering education, engineering outreach, management/leadership issues, engineering policy (local, national, international), engineering development work, etc.  In certain cases, students would be allowed to do an Honors Thesis in a completely non-engineering context.

In both cases, students are required to work with faculty.


Relationship of Thesis to MS/BS Work

The Honors Thesis can be (is encouraged to be) closely linked to the Master Thesis, but must be a separate work.  What would work in most cases would be for the Honors Thesis to be the preliminary work for the Master Thesis.  The Honors Thesis, therefore, would be rolled into the Masters Thesis.  In general, this would take one of two forms: 

(1) the Honors Thesis would be the more general scholarly background for the Masters Thesis project, laying out the relevant literature, defining the problem and the method.   The Masters Thesis would then focus on the actual research, results and analyses. 
(2) the Honors Thesis would focus on a smaller portion or the initial steps of the research, itself.

The Honors Thesis and Paid Research Positions

 There are no restrictions on the relationship between the Honors Thesis and paid research positions.  This will be a very common path (if not the most common path) for Honors Thesis research.  Students should be very careful, though, in determining in advance that this will be allowed by the principal investigator—this is especially necessary for situations where grants/research monies come from the defense department, corporation or any funding agency that has rights over the research results.


Relationship of Thesis to Group Capstone Projects

The Honors Thesis can incorporate the work being done for senior capstone/design project. The Honors Thesis would then consist of an individual work, in addition to the group work, which focused on a particular aspect of the project, a critical review of the process/project, and a more thorough engagement on a critical/reflective level.  Multiple students from the same group, therefore, could write an Honors Thesis from the same project.  This thesis would require an individual advisor and defense.



All Honors Theses must be defended before a committee of at least three members.  These members must include the main faculty advisor for the thesis and two individuals from the following categories:  other university faculty (any rank), university researchers, post-docs and doctoral students whose research is in similar areas.

item3Thesis Example 1