Senior Honors Thesis Timeline

Junior Year

  • Decide on a thesis topic or approach.
  • Conduct background research to determine the viability of your topic.
  • Begin drafting a thesis proposal.
  • If required in your major department, submit your thesis proposal in the second semester of your junior year.
  • Contact possible faculty advisors and readers.
  • Seek funding for your research; note funding deadlines.
  • Determine whether your research methods will require IRB approval.
  • Make a one-on-one appointment with the reference librarian in your area of focus.

Fall Semester of Senior Year

By the end of September, you should:

  • Finalize your decision to write an honors thesis.
  • Finalize your topic and research approach.
  • Confirm primary thesis advisor and secondary reader.
  • Think about length, breadth, and size of your finished thesis. Consider chapter breakdowns or other forms of presenting the finished product.
  • Attend informational meetings and understand all requirements.
  • Create your own project timeline and goals.


  • Submit Thesis Honors Candidate Form. The chairperson of your major department must sign this form. Must be submitted by the the sixth week of the semester.
  • Conduct research in library, lab, or field.
  • Meet with librarians for guidance on conducting advanced library or electronic research.
  • Gather, record, and categorize information as you find it. Keep accurate bibliographic notes and organized files.
  • Keep a journal to record your ideas related to thesis topic and research discoveries.
  • Begin writing. You should be able to draft some introductory sections of your thesis, including your hypothesis, governing question, or thesis statement, as well as your literature review, methodology, and definitions of terms.
  • Establish a regular meeting time with your primary advisor and provide regular (weekly) progress reports or written drafts to advisors.
  • Meet with an ARC writing consultant or join a writing group to help you stay on track.

November and Early December

  • Begin to draft a chapter (not necessarily the first chapter.)
  • Reassess chapter breakdowns; work on outline of thesis as whole.
  • Mid-year assessment: You and your advisor should assess your progress so far to determine if you should continue to pursue the honors thesis in the spring or switch to a senior project or independent study.
  • Plan detailed research and writing agenda for winter break. If you are doing a traditional research-based thesis, you should plan to write a substantial amount over break.

Spring Semester of Senior Year


  • Submit a draft of your first chapter or section of your thesis to your advisor. Remember to include a bibliography with any draft you submit to your committee members.
  • Schedule a meeting with your thesis advisor or thesis committee to discuss your work completed over winter break.
  • Plan a new timeline for spring. Plan to have the thesis substantially written BEFORE spring break.
  • Continue to send regular progress reports to your committee.

February and March

  • Write your thesis section by section and submit drafts to your primary advisor for revision comments.
  • Be very careful to cite sources correctly and incorporate them into your writing so as to avoid accidental plagiarism.
  • Set a date and time for your defense in April; all three committee members must be present at the defense. Remember to book a room that has everything you need (for example, internet connection or a movie screen).


  • You should be rewriting and revising by early April. Now is the time to pay attention to clarity of expression and prose style; you may need to work on major structural changes to your outline or clarify your logic.
  • Rewrite and revise according to your advisors' recommendations. Be sure the committee is in agreement on what they expect from you during the revision process.
  • Schedule a meeting with your entire committee so there will be no unpleasant surprises during the defense.
  • Submit your completed thesis with complete and accurate bibliography to your committee at least two weeks before your defense date.
  • Your DEFENSE must take place before finals for you to graduate in May.


  • First day of finals: This is the DEADLINE for "Recommendation for Thesis Honors" form to be submitted by your honors thesis advisor to the degree audit coordinator in Dowling Hall.
  • Your committee may ask you to correct or rewrite portions of your thesis after the defense but before you submit it to archives.
  • Prepare the final document for archives. See the online guide for instructions and specifications.
  • Submit your completed manuscript to Digital Collections & Archives.
  • Enjoy Senior Week–you’ve earned it.