On Friday April, 6th, I engaged in one of the most stressful, anxiety-inducing and rewarding activities of my undergraduate career. At 12:30 pm on that Friday, I defended my honors thesis, which I had been working on since the beginning of summer 2017. I condensed three semester’s worth of work and research, into a 68-page thesis paper and 20-minute presentation followed by about 45 minutes of questions from my thesis committee. While this experience was every bit as demanding as it sounds, it was also incredibly worthwhile. Not only did this experience give me the opportunity to earn Latin Honors and provide me with 3 Capstone credits and 3 Specialization credits, but it also gave me the opportunity to experience what it is like to do a long-term research study, similar in many ways to the type of project one might do for a masters or doctoral dissertation. As someone who someday hopes to attend graduate school, this experience was invaluable.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the honors thesis process, students complete an honors thesis in order to receive a Latin Honors designation (cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude) at graduation. Unlike some universities, which grant Latin Honors strictly on the basis of grade point average, CU Boulder requires students to complete an honors thesis to receive Latin Honors, and decide the level of honors based on a combination of GPA and the recommendation of a student’s thesis committee.
A thesis project is usually completed over 2-4 semesters and consists of an independent and original project. The requirements for honors differ slightly by department. For ENVS, students must have a 3.3 GPA to be eligible for honors. Students who wish to pursue an honors thesis must meet with ENVS honors council representative, Dale Miller, and register for his two-semester honors class (ENVS 4990). This class provides students with 3 Capstone credits and 3 Specialization credits . This class meets twice a week and teaches students the basic steps of doing independent research and organizing it into a thesis paper, as well as providing students the opportunity to ask Dale and other students in the midst of the thesis project questions.
Students must also assemble a thesis committee which consists of the honors council representative (Dale Miller for ENVS), a professor in their department, and a professor in a different department. This is the committee which students will defend their thesis to and who will recommend what level of honors they believe the student should receive to the honors council. However, the requirements for the successful completion of an honors thesis vary by department. You can find the requirements for departments in the College of Arts and Sciences here: https://www.colorado.edu/honors/graduation and for Environmental Design here: https://www.colorado.edu/envd/student-services/academic-advising/envd-thesis-honors-program.
Here at ACE, we have three peer advisors who have completed an honors thesis, and two who are in beginning this process. Elyse Skinner, who recently defended her ENVD honors thesis, Yvonne Krumrey who recently defended here general honors thesis, and myself. Furthermore, Tai Koester has just begun working on his GEOG honors thesis and Becca Randolph is working on her ENVD honors thesis. If you have any questions about completing an honors thesis, please come by the ACE Advising Office and ask one of us about our experience!