Candidates for Honors in Education Studies must complete and receive honors on a senior thesis. The College of Education Studies encourages proposals for honors theses based on an independent scholarly project or an approved project of a similar scope (e.g., creative work or other product). Honors thesis applications are due on the last Friday in March of the junior year and require the approval of the Education Studies faculty. There is a required overall GPA of 85.0 for prospective thesis writers; alternatively, students can be endorsed by two Core faculty members in the College. The College of Education Studies does not require the completion of Gen Ed expectations in order to be eligible for honors.

During the senior year, thesis writers enroll in an honors thesis tutorial (EDST 409 and 410) with a thesis advisor. The advisor is usually a core faculty member in Education Studies (see the core faculty profiles on the CES website), but sometimes an advisor is not a member of the Education Studies Department’s core faculty (in this case the student should consult with the faculty advisor or the chair). Joint majors may submit a thesis to more than one department if the topic is appropriate for each field and the other major allows double thesis submission. In this case, the student should register for one semester of the thesis tutorial in the other department, and the second semester of the thesis tutorial in EDST. The Honors thesis is due in mid-April on a date specified by the Registrar’s Office, rather than at the end of the spring term.

Two faculty readers – the honors thesis advisor and one reader selected by the Honors committee – evaluate the thesis; each writes a substantive review of the thesis, which will be given to the thesis writer. The readers’ recommendations determine the honors ranking. If the evaluators’ recommendations are in conflict, the College will arrange for a third faculty reading. If a senior receives “Honors” or “High Honors” on the honors thesis, this is printed on the Wesleyan diploma and listed in the commencement bulletin.  If the readers recommend “Credit” rather than honors for the thesis, “Honors in Education Studies” is not awarded.  Additionally, the advisor determines the transcript grades for the fall and spring thesis tutorials. 


Junior EDST majors who are interested in doing an honors thesis must submit a research application to the Chair by the last Friday of March, at 5pm ET. Proposals will then be reviewed by the College of Education Studies Honors committee.

The thesis application should set out what you want to do, how you hope to do it, and why it is worth doing. It should also make clear that you have done the necessary preliminary research (literature review, understanding of the topic, and, where relevant, the history of your particular locale/institution/event/ text) to embark on a successful independent research project. Thus, consider how your project builds on and contributes to scholarly knowledge in your chosen area. The proposal should demonstrate that you have thought through the practicality and feasibility of your project plan. Because of the nature of research, it is likely that projects may shift from original plans, so consider the proposal as a statement of not only what research you plan to undertake, but as an opportunity to formulate your understanding of a problem needing scholarly attention (e.g. consider the ways to investigate it and link it to other issues).

Advancing a specific argument or thesis at this stage would be inappropriate and premature. Instead, you should indicate some of the questions you will be asking and how you plan to conduct research to answer them, i.e., what sources and evidence will you consult.

In the case of a project that is more creative than research-oriented, you will need to explain how it relates to your Education Studies major.

You should also include a brief (one paragraph) statement about why you would like to do a thesis, and a list of one to three suggested advisors.

The CES Honors Committee will make every effort to help you find an appropriate advisor. However, we cannot guarantee that faculty will be available to advise every proposal. We encourage you to consult with CES faculty as you consider ideas in order to get early feedback to refine your topic and relevant bibliography. Ultimately, it is up to you to do the preliminary work and drafting of a proposal to demonstrate forethought, organization, and capacity for advanced work.

While the CES faculty have established a deadline of the last Friday of March for submission of thesis proposals, please note that if you wish to apply for a grant, such as a Davenport Grant (if your project deals with social/public policy) or Summer Research in the Sciences (if your project is in the sciences, including Psychology) to support summer research, you will likely need to craft a preliminary proposal and find an initial faculty advisor in time to meet that grant deadline. Check the websites for these different opportunities if you wish to apply for funding.

Davenport Grant

Summer Research in the Sciences

If you plan to conduct any research that includes human subjects (including questionnaires, interviews, or observations), please note that you must clear your proposal with the campus Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to conducting that research. The purpose of an IRB is to provide a comprehensive standard of protection for human subjects in research.

In this context, as stated on the Wesleyan IRB site, “research” is defined as “any systematic investigation designed to contribute to a body of generalized public knowledge,” and the use of “human subjects” refers to “data collection through interaction with individuals or the collection of identifiable private information about individuals.” See the website for more information and deadlines: http://www.wesleyan.edu/acaf/support/reviewboard.html.

Send proposals via email, formatted as Word documents, to ces@wesleyan.edu, by 5 pm (ET) on the last Friday of March. The proposal should be approximately 3 pages long in total, covering all of the following sections (normal margins, 12 point Times New Roman or equivalent, double-spaced).

Please name the proposal file with your surname.

For example, Stemler_EDST Thesis Proposal


Your proposal should include:

 0. Title

 1. Introduction - In one paragraph, explain what you want to do, how, and why. Why does this research matter?

 2. Background

A. Research Topic and Question: Identify the research topic/question and describe the historical and  contemporary factors relating to this topic/question that are relevant to your research. What will your research add to our knowledge of this subject?

B. Literature Review: What have others written about your topic and/or area? Given what has already been written on the topic, why is your research important? What will it contribute to our knowledge, within Education Studies and within a related field of scholarly interest? Are there debates in the literature to which your research will contribute? Does your research test out old assumptions and/or take ideas in a new direction? Discuss comparable studies and explain how your research is similar to, or different from them. If there is limited work in your chosen area, consider whether there are similar processes going on in other parts of the world. How will your research scale up from a local site/problem to broader analytical or theoretical questions or problems? In short, explain how your research will expand on existing ideas and how it promises to advance our understanding of the world or a particular problematic. This is also the place to state the main research questions guiding your work.

3. Methods

A. What methods will you use? To get what sort of information? How will your methodology produce information that you can link into an argument or description? Will your methods provide cross-checks on one another, or multiple ways to understand your research site or topic?

B. Analysis: Be sure you indicate not only what you want to find out and how you will go about it, but also how you plan to make sense of what you discover. How are you going to organize the material you learn? What tools will you use to analyze the information gathered in participant observation, or interview (for example)? Also, make sure to explain how you will gather the contextual information (background, regional history, other necessary social or political context) needed to support the more specific argument you hope to make.

4. Results

What kind of results do you expect from your research? If all goes well, what do you think your research will contribute? What kind of study do you plan to produce?

5. Preliminary Bibliography

Make sure to provide a thorough list of sources you have consulted for your project: this will demonstrate that you have undertaken the necessary preparation for a project of this scale and magnitude.

6. Personal statement

In no more than one paragraph, tell us why you want to do a thesis, as opposed to a tutorial or other capstone project.

7. Suggested advisors

Please list one to three faculty in the College of Education Studies who you believe might be able to advise your thesis.


Once a thesis proposal is accepted and a thesis advisor assigned, there are a few milestones to keep in mind. 

By the end of the summer, students should submit an extension or revision of the initial proposal, at minimum a five-page proposal and an annotated bibliography. This is required in order to enroll in the fall thesis tutorial. Students who cannot meet this goal may be exited from the thesis process and encouraged to pursue a non-thesis tutorial or capstone option instead. Adequate progress during the fall tutorial is required in order to continue the thesis process and enroll in the spring tutorial.

The CES Honors committee will find the second reader. The second reader will often be another faculty member in Education Studies but can be another faculty member with relevant expertise within the university, or, under certain circumstances, a faculty member with the relevant expertise at another institution. Students will consult with their thesis advisor and suggest three names for the second readers to the Honors Committee. The Honors committee will then reach out to potential readers. The second reader for Education Studies theses is not anonymous, and that person can be consulted for advice or input during the research and writing process.

 There are two opportunities for students to present their work and to receive feedback from a diverse audience. In November, students will present their preliminary work to an audience of CES faculty members and students. In April, after the thesis has been submitted, students will share their work with the CES community in a celebration & presentation of theses.




Late March      

Students submit a proposal to the Honors committee by the last Friday of March. Students may be asked to submit up to one revision to address any gaps or questions the committee has, before the committee makes final decisions. 


Honors committee makes decisions on which students are accepted to pursue a thesis; accepted students will be assigned an Ed Studies thesis advisor.


Students produce initial work by the end of the summer, such as an extended or refined proposal and an annotated bibliography. Students who cannot meet this goal may be exited from the thesis process and encouraged to pursue a non-thesis tutorial or capstone option instead.



Students present preliminary work at a fall feedback forum with EDST faculty.

Students complete sufficient work, as agreed with the advisor, for the Fall Thesis Tutorial.



Students register Honors theses following the university deadline.

Students present their work at a spring presentation/celebration forum for the CES community, after theses are submitted. Sophomores and juniors are encouraged to come see what the final product of a thesis year looks like.

Students who are completing their degree in December should notify the co-chairs of their interest in a thesis and prepare a proposal by the end of November of their junior year. The rest of the process will be the same. The thesis deadline for students completing in December is the first day of classes the following spring semester.