Honors Thesis

  • Thesis Awards

To graduate from the Lee Honors College, all students must complete and successfully defend an honors thesis. Detailed information to guide students through the honors thesis is available in the Lee Honors College student thesis handbook. The thesis topic will vary depending on the field of study. For example, a traditional research paper, a public performance, a work of art, a design project, a business plan or educational curriculum may be completed for the honors thesis. While it is typical for a student to choose a thesis topic in their major field, it is not essential. The thesis committee chair and the dean or the associate dean of the honors college must approve the thesis topic.

A full-time WMU faculty member must chair the honors thesis with at least one additional committee member. Committee members may include faculty, staff, graduate students (except that at least one committee member may not be a graduate student who works for the thesis chair) or members of the broader community with expertise relevant to the thesis. The chair and at least one committee member who is not a graduate student who works with the thesis chair must attend and approve both the thesis defense and the final written thesis.

Beginning with students entering the honors college in fall 2014, all honors students must complete one credit of HNRS 4980 How and Why to Write an Undergraduate Thesis and one credit of HNRS 4990 Honors Thesis. HNRS 4980 must be taken not later than the junior year. One credit of HNRS 4990 must be taken subsequently or concurrently with HNRS 4980, with the thesis mentor as the instructor of record OR by subsitution with an honors college approved departmental course. Departments currently approved to meet this requirement include art, dance, all engineering senior design projects, and psychology. Questions regarding substitutions not on this list should be directed to the dean or associate dean. HNRS 4980 counts toward the honors course requirement and HNRS 4990 counts as an experiential honors credit.

The thesis declaration form should be submitted at least three semesters prior to the planned semester of graduation. The thesis defense certificate request form should be completed and submitted at least one month before the planned date of the thesis defense. Once the request form is processed, a thesis packet containing all thesis defense requirements and instructions on how to submit them to the honors college will be created for the student. The student should bring the thesis packet with them to their defense and complete the appropriate paperwork with their committee. The chair and at least one committee member who is not a graduate student working with the thesis chair must attend and approve both the thesis defense and the final written thesis. Honors theses must be defended no later than the date of graduation from WMU. We strongly encourage, but do not require, that the thesis defense be completed in the Lee Honors College during the designated thesis celebration days. A digital copy of the final, approved thesis along with all other forms included in the student’s thesis packet must be submitted to the honors college within 30 days of the student’s graduation date. All thesis-related forms and instructions are available on this website. 

Honors thesis completion extensions are available only due to extenuating circumstances and must be approved by the dean of the honors college. Lack of planning or procrastination do not constitute extenuating circumstances and will not be approved. Students may request a hardship-based thesis completion extension due to the following circumstances, which must be documented:

  • Severe physical or medical illness.
  • Injury of student or close family member.
  • Death of a close family member.
  • Act of violence.
  • Exigencies of military service.

For all other thesis completion extension requests, a written petition must be filed by the thesis committee chair (not the student). Requests for thesis completion extensions should include a clear rationale for the request and a proposed timeline to complete the thesis.

Students are urged to use caution if they are approached by publishers offering to publish their theses. It is strongly recommended that students consult with their faculty mentor regarding reputable journals in their disciplines. Predatory publishers send unsolicited requests for articles, may send false information about their journals and typically charge large fees to authors. Likewise, sham conference organizers will send targeted emails asking for abstract or article contributions with substantial submission fees. Before responding to such requests, please discuss them with your faculty mentor.

For examples of past honors theses, please visit ScholarWorks.