Honors Thesis

An honors student presents his thesis at the Undergraduate Research Conference

The Honors Thesis is defined as a sustained, independent project in a student’s field of study. It must count for at least 4 credits, and no more than 8 credits, of the required 16 credits of Honors in Major work.

Because each field has specific disciplinary standards, there is a great deal of variation in thesis projects. In general, however, a thesis is a significant research paper (usually 30-50 pages) that follows a format similar to journal articles in the field. For example, if articles in peer-reviewed journals usually consist of an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, analysis, and conclusion, that should be the format for the thesis. Thesis advisors are research faculty and should have a good deal of experience with writing in this format.

Generally, students register for a Senior Honors Thesis course (often numbered 799) in the spring and/or fall of their Senior year. This course is an independent study conducted by the faculty advisor. This advisor sets the standards, due date, and grade for the project. It must earn at least a B in order to qualify for Honors.

Public Presentation and Publication

All students must publicly present their research prior to graduation. Many present at the Undergraduate Research Conference in April; other departmentally-approved public events are also acceptable.

In 2012 we began digitally archiving Honors theses. Students are encouraged to peruse scholars.unh.edu/honors/ for examples in relevant disciplines. Older Honors theses are available in the Special Collections & Archives department at Dimond Library. 

Honors students are asked to make their thesis papers available on scholars.unh.edu/honors/. This creates a resource for future students and other researchers, and also helps students professionalize their online personas.

These theses are publicly available online. If a student or her advisor prefers not to make the work available, she may upload an abstract and/or excerpts from the work instead.

Students may also publish research in Inquiry, UNH's undergraduate research journal,: www.unh.edu/inquiryjournal.


Thesis advisors are typically tenure-line faculty; that is, their title should be Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor. When appropriate, Lecturers, Instructors, and other contingent faculty are thesis advisors as well. 

Students should select advisors with whom they have worked successfully in the past, and who have expertise in the student’s area of research interest. Many students connect with thesis advisors by working with them on course designations during Honors-in-Major coursework. Advisors should be approached before the semester in which research begins. Honors Liaisons can assist students who are having trouble identifying an advisor.

In rare cases a lecturer or other non-tenure-track faculty member may volunteer to supervise a thesis, and may be the most appropriate advisor for a student’s thesis. In these cases the student should submit a Petition for Academic Variance to the Director of the University Honors Program. The Director will contact the chair of the department to discuss whether the instructor is an appropriate advisor, and whether the department will support her work with the student. If the petition is not approved, the student should find a tenure-track member of the department to advise or co-advise the thesis.

IRB Approval

Some thesis projects may need approval from the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research. The thesis advisor should consider whether approval is necessary, which will depend both on the project and on how it will be presented or published. More information is available here: http://www.unh.edu/research/human-subjects

Financial Support

The Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research offers research grants, including summer support. During the academic year, if a student is registered in a credit-bearing thesis course, he may apply for an Honors Thesis Grant from the Hamel Center. These grants are for up to $150 and can be used to pay for research expenses.

Library Privileges

Honors Students can access Extended Time borrowing privileges at Dimond Library, which are otherwise reserved for faculty and graduate students. In order to be granted these privileges, students must complete the Honors Thesis Agreement and submit it to the University Honors Program, along with a note requesting extended borrowing privileges.