Please note the Registrar's Office will be closed at noon on Fridays from June 7th through August 2nd.


Honors Program Handbook

The Honors Program at Wesleyan

Students who plan to write a thesis or essay for honors consideration should familiarize themselves with the Honors Program Handbook, which contains important information and deadlines for honors candidates including formatting instructions. All honors candidates are required to register their thesis or essay in PDF format, through their WesPortal. Note: all theses are now bound double-sided so students need to pay special attention to formatting instructions so that new chapters always begin on an odd numbered page on the right side of the page layout. Questions about the Honors Program should be directed to the Registrar’s Office.

A degree with honors can be earned two ways: (1) Departmental honors will be awarded to the student who has done outstanding work in the major field of study and met the standards for honors or high honors set by the respective department or program; (2) Honors in General Scholarship will be awarded to the student who is a University major or whose thesis topic or methodology is outside of the domain appropriate for the award of Honors in the student's department(s) or program(s). The candidate for honors in general scholarship must have a minimum Grade Point Average of 90.00, fulfill general education expectations, and submit a senior thesis that meets the standard for honors or high honors set by the Committee on Honors.

In the fall semester of the senior year, all candidates for departmental honors must either enroll in a senior thesis/essay tutorial or, if they are pursuing an alternate route to honors, must ask their department to forward their names to the Registrar's Office as candidates. For honors in general scholarship, each candidate must submit (1) a brief proposal describing the honors work; (2) a short statement telling how general education expectations have been or will be fulfilled; and (3) letters of support from the thesis tutor and the department chair of the student's major (or, in the case of a University major, from the Committee on University Majors). Students who are University majors or are working on a thesis topic or methodology that is outside of the domain appropriate for the award of Honors in your major department(s) or program(s) should refer to the General Scholarship website for information about the application process.

The completed thesis/essay is due in mid-April.

University honors is the highest award Wesleyan bestows. To be eligible, a student must:

  • fulfill general education expectations
  • earn high honors (either departmental or in general scholarship)
  • be recommended for University honors
  • and qualify in an oral examination administered by the Committee on Honors.

The Honors Committee oversees the granting of Honors, hears petitions, supervises students who elect to stand as candidates for Honors in General Scholarship and selects University Honors recipients. The Registrar’s Office assists the Honors Committee and the students writing theses by coordinating the mechanics of the process, providing forms, schedules, and reminders as needed, and by managing the electronic thesis/essay registration and evaluation process.

Becoming an Honors Candidate

Seniors should declare their intention to be an Honors candidate to their department in their penultimate semester. Steps within the department normally include: selecting a topic, arranging to work with a tutor, and registering for an Honors tutorial during the Drop/Add period. In most cases, students must enroll for two consecutive semesters of thesis tutorial, the final tutorial being in the same academic year in which the student graduates.

Begin by talking with the appropriate person in your major department during your junior year if possible. Academic departments grant most Wesleyan honors, and students need to follow their procedures. If you are a double major and want to write one thesis for consideration by both departments, you must have permission from each by having each Chair approve your senior thesis tutorial.

You are considered an Honors candidate once you are enrolled in the appropriate departmental tutorial. Those not required to take a tutorial must confirm with their department that the Registrar's Office has been informed of their intention to pursue Honors by the end of the Drop/Add period in the fall semester. 

A list of Honors candidates will be circulated to Olin Library and the departments (for verification) by early October. You should expect to receive confirmation in early October from the Registrar’s Office that you are a candidate.

Theses Involving Human Subjects & IRB Approval

Students who intend to pursue research using human subjects must submit a written description of their proposal and obtain IRB approval of the proposal prior to commencing research. For the purposes of the IRB, research is defined as “any systematic investigation designed to contribute to a body of generalized public knowledge.” The use of human subjects refers to “data collection through interaction with individuals or the collection of identifiable private information about individuals.” Activities that meet this definition of human subjects research should be submitted to the IRB for review following the procedures described in full here.

The student and the thesis mentor need to sign the application before the IRB will accept it for review. Students who are conducting thesis research while on study abroad and who have received study approval from the sponsoring institution do not need to reapply for approval from the Wesleyan IRB provided that the student completes the data collection while on study abroad. However, they need to submit the original approval letter issued by the sponsoring institution to the Wesleyan IRB. The IRB website provides detailed instructions on how to submit your application. Several resources are also available on this site which include an on-line tutorial about ethical conduct in research and a sample consent form. Applications for projects involving minimal risk typically are reviewed within one week. Applications for projects involving more than minimal risk or vulnerable populations typically require at least three weeks to review.

Approval is typically granted for one year. If during that time the student makes substantive changes to the study protocol, a "change of protocol" application needs to be submitted to the IRB prior to implementing the protocol changes. For projects that continue past the initial approval period, a "continuation application" needs to be submitted. There are periods of time throughout the year in which the IRB does not review applications; please consult their website for these dates. 

Please note that this additional step is federally mandated and the IRB operates according to the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 45, Part 46) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The purpose of these regulations is to ensure that investigators do not unduly put at risk or harm people who are the subjects of research, and that subjects are aware of their rights as defined by federal regulations.

Students who have additional questions that cannot be answered by the information posted on the IRB website, should contact Lisa Sacks in Academic Affairs at (860)685-3428 or at

Generic Honors Schedule

Fall Semester

  • Make arrangements to begin a thesis/essay in your major department, and add tutorial DEPT409 (403 for essay writers) by the end of Drop/Add. If your department does not require a fall tutorial, inform the chair or appropriate faculty member of your intention in writing, and give a copy to the department administrative assistant as well.
  • Visit Olin Library: carrels, borrowing privileges, resources
  • Begin or continue research on the topic
  • You will receive confirmation from the Registrar’s Office that you are a candidate for honors by early October. If you are not sure whether you are a candidate, check with the Registrar’s Office to make sure your name is on the Candidate List
  • Construct a timetable for writing and revising the work with your tutor
  • Stick carefully to the schedule as the semester progresses

Spring Semester

  • Add tutorial DEPT 410/Work in Progress through the Drop/Add system by the end of Drop/Add. 
  • Complete writing or production
  • Departments select readers and notify the Registrar's Office. 
  • Prepare final copy for tutor’s review
  • Schedule printing date with outside vendor (if needed) to make photocopies for your readers
  • Register an electronic PDF version of your thesis/essay through your portfolio (detailed instructions on uploading PDF files will be sent to you during the spring semester) by 4 pm on the April deadline. You will need to indicate the total number of copies you will have printed and bound at that time. Note that the University and the Honors Committee take the thesis deadline very seriously and computer problems are not considered an acceptable excuse. If you have concerns about the honors thesis deadline and how it pertains to you, please review the official policy here.
  • The Honors Committee requires each honors candidate to submit an abstract along with their thesis during thesis registration. Students may incorporate an abstract into the PDF of their thesis but they should also save the abstract as a separate file. The registration screens require you to enter the abstract separately so by creating the separate file, you can simply copy and paste the abstract language into the registration screens
  • After electronically registering your thesis/essay, immediately deliver any required reader copies to your department/program. Please note that reader copies will not be bound and will be returned directly to you by your department/program
  • Honors decisions announced by departments in May

December Completions


Most departments require TWO consecutive semesters of thesis tutorials. You are responsible for knowing and complying with your department’s policy. For December completions, the two-semester tutorial requirement is usually satisfied by doing one tutorial during the Spring of the junior year, the other during the Fall of the senior year. 


Students who complete their work at the end of the fall semester must communicate with the Registrar's Office prior to leaving campus. You will be required to electronically register your thesis early by the January deadline, but your work may or may not be evaluated until the spring semester along with other honors candidates in your department.

Early Thesis Registration

December completions who do not enroll on a per credit basis in the spring semester to complete their thesis are required to officially register their honors work on the first day of the spring semester in the year they graduate. 

Special Circumstances

One Semester Tracks for Honors

Candidates for Honors in programs that do not require two-semester tutorials must inform the appropriate person in their department of their intent by the end of Drop/Add in the fall semester. 

Honors in Two or More Departments

Double or triple majors who want to write a single thesis for honors consideration in more than one department must register for the tutorial in one department, but must obtain approval from each department. The online thesis tutorial reqistration form allows you to indicate if you are writing for two departments and if indicated your form will be routed to both department chairs for approval. If you are writing for a third major, you must inform the Registrar's Office directly to add the third department. The thesis or project will be evaluated separately by members of each department, whose recommendations are independent of one another.

Students who major in more than one department, program, or college may submit a thesis in one of their majors or separate theses in more than one major. On rare occasions a student may endeavor to complete two separate theses for two separate majors. If you intend to pursue this, you must contact the Registrar's Office directly.

Honors in General Scholarship

University majors and those working on a thesis topic or methodology that is outside of the domain appropriate for the award of Honors in the major department(s) or program(s) may apply to be candidates for Honors in General Scholarship. For more information about the application process, refer to the General Scholarship website In addition to registering for the appropriate tutorial by the end of fall semester Drop/Add, students in the graduating class year who did not meet the spring application deadline need to submit a late petition along with the full application to the Registrar's Office by the last day of fall semester Drop/Add at 4pm.

Discontinuing Honors Work

It is imperative that both you and your tutor inform the Registrar's Office as soon as you decide you are not going to pursue honors work. You must complete a Senior Thesis/Essay Drop Form, have it signed by your thesis/essay advisor, department/program Chair(s), and the senior class dean, and submit it to the Registrar's Office in order to be officially dropped from the honors candidate list.

Late Submission of Theses

Theses may not be submitted late. If you are having problems, contact the Registrar's Office at the earliest possible time. Computer problems are absolutely not an acceptable excuse for late submission of a thesis/essay. Do not create a final PDF copy at the last minute. Create your PDF copy early to make sure your thesis/essay meets margin requirements, tables and footnotes print correctly, the image sizes are not too large, and that your title page is in the proper format. To review the full official policy concerning the honors thesis deadline click here.


The Registrar's Office is not involved in the petition process other than distributing the proper petition forms to the voting members of the Honors Committee. Petition issues are decided by a faculty committee on Honors and reported to students by the Registrar's Office. 

Work In Progress Form

Honors candidates report their work in progress at the time that they electronically register for the second half of their thesis tutorial in the drop/add system in January. Candidates are asked to submit a brief description of their project; the tutor then writes a brief assessment of whether the work thus far seems likely to result in an Honors thesis/essay/project. The Chair of the department/program then approves the student for continued honors candidacy at the same time that the thesis tutorial is approved in the drop/add system.

What is the purpose? (1) The candidate and the tutor assess the work accomplished and review the remaining schedule to make sure it is realistic. (2) The department reviews the status of the planned thesis/essay project and confirms its continued support of the Honors candidate to the Honors Committee. (3) Some departments begin the process of selecting readers.

Library Resources

Library Carrels

The library offers library carrels for undergraduate thesis writers. Seniors who are Honors candidates may apply to receive a carrel.  Two students will be assigned to share each carrel. Students have the option of choosing a person with whom to share a carrel or receiving a randomly-assigned carrel partner. Students may also indicate their preferred library for their carrel.

In order to retain a carrel, a student must remain on the list of Honors candidates.  The list is regularly reissued throughout the academic year, and students with carrels who are not on the current Honors list will be required to vacate their carrel.

All students must surrender their carrels as soon as they complete their theses. Keys must be returned in April 2024. Failure to return your key on time will result in an $85 charge to your student account for a lock change.

Applying for a Carrel

During the fall semester the carrel lottery will begin and carrel applications will be available in WesPortal from the Honors Carrel Application link in the Library category. The application generally opens in September. 

Carrels will be assigned randomly, honoring students' library preference whenever possible. Lottery results will be available in mid-October, via WesPortal. 

Carrel keys can be picked up from the Olin Reserve Desk from mid- to late-October.  For specific dates, please refer to the library website:

Borrowing Privileges

See the circulation desk to find out about special borrowing privileges extended to Honors candidates.

Thesis/Essay Style and Permissions

The Honors Committee expects all Honors candidates to present their work for evaluation in a format suitable for publication within the field of study. Wesleyan’s tradition for Honors theses is to require uniformity of style only for the title page and the binding. You are responsible for adhering to title page and margin format requirements.


Set up your margins to match your requirements from the day you start to write your thesis. Follow the conventions of the field in which you write. (i.e. if writing a film screenplay, follow standard screenplay format)

Ask your tutor how he or she sets up an article to be submitted for publication. Check style sheets for articles in journals in your field.

See A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian, University of Chicago Press (a classic).


Consult with your department regarding the use of copyrighted materials in your thesis/essay. In most cases, fair-use laws allow the use of materials as long as credit is clearly given (on the same page) to the owner of the copyrighted work you are referencing. If you ever expect to publish your thesis/essay, be aware that you will most likely need to get permission from the owner(s) of the copyright, and possibly pay a fee.

Title Page

A sample title page and declaration format are at the end of these pages. A computerized template is available for download at the following location Scroll to the bottom of the page to select the template that is appropriate for you. It is recommended that you print out your title page in a campus computer lab to protect against any differences in the template program and your own computer program. Important note: now that all theses will be bound double-sided, you must insert a blank page after your title page so that the main body of your work will begin on an odd numbered page.

Thesis/Essay Format

Follow these guidelines from the beginning of your first draft! Please understand that you are responsible for the accuracy of your title page and margin formatting and should be confirming that you are adhering to these guidelines throughout the writing process.

Title Page A sample is attached so you may create your own, or you may download a copy from the thesis homepage: The title format must match.
Margins All type (page #, footnotes, photos) must be within these margins: Do Not use your program’s default settings!
Left:                 1.5 inch
Right:               1.5 inch
Top:                 1 inch
Bottom:            1 inch
Page Numbers At least ½ inch from the bottom of the page (centered)
Spacing Standard policy is to double space throughout (except poetry, quotations, footnotes). See MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Seventh Edition for information on specific spacing issues concerning Endnotes versus Footnotes; extracted and indented quotations, including poetry and poetry quotations.
Double-Sided Pages Theses are now bound double sided. The PDF version of your thesis/essay should be submitted as a double-sided manuscript. Make sure you use page breaks or section breaks in your document to ensure that all new chapters begin on an odd page that appears on the right side of your layout. Also insert a blank page after your title page before you convert your final work to PDF format!
Layout For guidance on layout formatting to ensure new chapters always begin on the right side of the document see: a027-e503bdf8375c
Font Size 12 pt or larger (except footnotes, use your judgment). You choose the style.

These margin standards are set by the bindery to ensure a good appearance of the final bound thesis/essay. The manuscript will be trimmed in the binding process and each bound page will be slightly smaller than the original 8 1/2 x 11 size.

Note: Word processing programs handle the commands to embed page numbers differently. Print a sample sheet early on to check margin and page number placement. Please refer to GUIDELINES FOR CREATING A PDF FILE on this page for information about converting your file to a PDF and printing from it. When you convert your file, be sure to preserve margins. Remember that computer problems are NOT an acceptable excuse for late submission of a thesis/essay. Create your PDF version early!

Saving: Be sure to save your thesis/essay frequently. It is a good idea to save your work on both disk and hard drive.

Creating Your PDF File 

The most important issue, when creating a PDF document, is to embed fonts so that the document looks the same on every computer and prints correctly when it is sent to the bindery.

For Mac Users 

Macs automatically have the ability to create PDFs. Just open your document, choose the print command and select “Adobe PDF” as the printer. The fonts will automatically be embedded.

For Windows Users 

All Wesleyan lab computers have the ability to create a PDF. You can check whether your personal computer can create PDFs by opening your document, going to File>Print and confirming that one of your printers is Adobe PDF. If your computer does not have this ability, use a lab computer to do the conversion. 

  1. Open your document Go to File>Print
  2. Choose “Adobe PDF” as your printer
  3. Click the Properties button to the right of the printer name
    • The standard setting ensures that fonts are embedded and that the dpi is 600. Make sure that you uncheck either “Rely on system fonts only” or “Do not send fonts to ‘Adobe PDF,’” depending on your version of PDF, since you want to use the fonts already in your document.

Other Items To Note When Creating A PDF File


If you have additional documents, like sound or video files, you will be able to submit those at the time you electronically register your thesis/essay so that they can be accessed by your readers and tutor online and will also be included in the upload to WesScholar.

If you have difficulty creating a PDF, please contact the Help Desk at x4000.

Reader Copies


Be sure that the computer program you use to create your manuscript is supported by the computer/printer on which you will print your reader copies. You may use your own printer to produce your reader copies, print at a Wesleyan computer lab, or use an outside vendor. We suggest that you print the manuscript which will be used to produce your reader copies from the PDF file you will be submitting to ensure that the reader copies and PDF version are identical.

The following departments do not require students to provide reader copies of their theses:



The following departments do not require students to provide reader copies of their theses, but individual readers may still request them:



Submitting A Thesis/Essay


Students pursuing honors are required to submit their honors thesis/essay electronically as a PDF file prior to the 4 pm deadline in April. The PDF file will be used to print and bind copies of your thesis/essay for your department as well as any tutor/personal copies.  

After uploading your PDF file, you must immediately deliver any required reader copies to your readers (or the administrative assistant in the department/program, if your readers are anonymous). Each reader copy of your thesis/essay must be in an envelope with a legible label that includes the following information:


Dept Thesis/Essay is being submitted to:


You are responsible for making sure that the thesis/essay is in its final form when it is submitted as a PDF file. Margin and title page formatting must be correct. The PDF file and the reader copies must be identical. 

Some departments--where the tutor is not a reader--expect the tutor to receive a reading copy at the same time as the evaluators. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure enough copies are made and delivered to readers.

Please note that your readers may write on their copies. Reader copies will not be bound. These copies will be returned to you directly by your department/program. 

Registration Check List 

Upload the PDF version of your manuscript. Make sure that you leave yourself enough time to upload and register your thesis prior to the deadline. Depending on the size of your thesis, it may take some time to upload and then you will need to complete the registration process. Do not wait until the last minute to begin the upload/registration process. During the registration process, you will be asked to complete a thesis/essay agreement for Olin Library, indicate what your shortened title should be for the spine of the bound copy, and approve charges to your student account. You are also required to submit an abstract at the time of registration. The abstract can be appended to the PDF of your thesis but you must also enter abstract text in a required field in the thesis registration screens. Once you’ve completed the electronic registration process, deliver any required reader copies of the completed manuscript in manila envelopes, each labeled per above.

Registration Tips

  • IMPORTANT: Pay attention to the number of images you have and the overall size of your pdf. If your PDF file is very large in size, you may have difficulty uploading it to the thesis registration system. The image size in a document is often a primary reason that PDF files are very large. Please refer to PDF Tips and Troubleshooting on the Honors website for links to instructions on how to reduce the image sizes: PDFtips.html
  • If you have supplemental files (images, sound, video) you may upload up to 4 supplemental files in the panels at the end of the registration screen. Supplemental files are optional. There is a 2 MB limit on these
  •  Generally, thesis registration problems are most often experienced by students who attempt to upload large, uncondensed media files such as performance recordings. If your thesis PDF is accompanied by a supplemental file that is very large, we recommend you upload and register the thesis PDF itself and then share your supplemental files with readers either via google drive or on a flash drive.

Late Submission of Theses 

Theses may not be submitted late. If you are having problems, contact the Registrar's Office at the earliest possible time. Computer problems are absolutely not an acceptable excuse for late submission of a thesis/essay. Please do not create your PDF file at the last minute. Create this early to make sure your thesis/essay meets margin requirements, page formatting, tables and footnotes print correctly, image sizes are not too large, and that your title page is in the proper format. You are responsible for adhering to these guidelines. The Honors Committee has published an official University policy concerning the Honors Thesis Deadline. Click here to review that policy in detail and how it may pertain to you and your particular situation. 

What Happens Once The Readers Are Done With My Thesis/Essay? 

Department/Program recommendations for Honors are due in May. You may check with your department/program for results around this date. Your department/program will return your reader copies directly to you after this time. Some departments require a bound copy of the thesis. That information will be clear to you at the time you register your electronic thesis and will be viewable after the fact in your Honors registration screens. Students will have the ability to request bound personal copies directly from our vendor, HF Group, using their Thesis-On-Demand service. Detailed instructions will be sent to thesis writers in April.

Corrections to Honors Theses Prior to Binding

There is a process in place whereby thesis writers may be allowed to submit limited revisions to their honors thesis prior to binding. This process is controlled exclusively by the student’s major department. Only thesis advisors and/or department chairs have the ability to open the thesis revision tool for individual students. Students cannot initiate the process. The purpose is to allow students to rectify errors that the department deems essential prior to binding. Once the thesis registration deadline has passed, thesis advisors and chairs will see information displayed at the top of their Honors Students panels advising them how they can open this tool for their students and the deadline by which the revised submission must be completed. Please note that the time allowed for submission of revised theses is very limited due to the tight binding schedule. Only one revised version of the thesis is allowed to be submitted. Students should contact their thesis advisor to discuss the possibility of submitting a revised version of their thesis if necessary.

Printing and Binding Process

Note that Olin Library no longer requires bound copies of theses.  All copies will be stored in Wesleyan's Digital Collections

During the thesis registration process, you will be required to submit a PDF file of your thesis/essay electronically. The Honors Coordinator will manage the binding of all required copies for university purposes.  Students will have the opportunity to work directly with our binding vendor to order personal copies. Remember, whatever you submit as a PDF will be printed exactly as it appears, so make sure you adhere to all formatting guidelines to ensure the best results. After registering your thesis online you will then deliver your reader copies, if required by your department. Reader copies will be returned to you by your department/program.


Peronal Copies of your thesis can be ordered through PrintOnDemand.

The PrintOnDemand portal will assess and then charge you for the cost of printing, binding and shipping your thesis. The customer is offered many options so you can customize to your preference. Also, there is a cost assessment tool to assist in determining the approximate final cost prior to ordering. 

The portal can be accessed here:


Olin Library will store a copy of your PDF file for archival purposes in WesScholar. Departments vary in the manner in which they store theses/essays and make them available to students. Check with the administrative assistant regarding your department’s policy.

Theses that do not receive Honors

If you do not receive honors your department/program and Olin Library copies will not be printed and bound, so your Student Account will be credited for these costs.

My thesis/essay or project is not a written work. What do I do?

Oversize theses (music scores for example) are usually not bound but are presented to the departments and to the library in exactly the same form in which they were evaluated. These should be accompanied by a title page and be legibly labeled in individual manila envelopes. Because your work will become the department/archival copy, your readers/evaluators will be asked to return one of the pieces to the Registrar’s Office for submission to the library. The other piece will be kept by the department as their copy and the third copy, if applicable, will be returned directly to you. You will not be required to submit a PDF version of your work for binding. Films are kept in special archival conditions by the Film Studies Program.

Maps, images/photographs and illustrations may require special treatment at the bindery.

  • If you have multiple images in your thesis and the PDF file size is very large, consider including images in a separate map pocket in the bound thesis copy and uploading those images separately as supplemental material for Before you choose this option, however, you must discuss this with your thesis advisor and department to make sure that this is acceptable to them.
  • If you will include images, maps, photographs or illustrations in a map pocket in your bound thesis, you will need to decide the depth of the pocket so that the material can be inserted into it – either ½”, 1”, or 1 ½”. (a 100-page insert or less should only require a ½” pocket). You will be able to enter this information at the time that you order your map pocket, during thesis registration. 
  • Please deliver the material to be included in your department copy to your department's administrative assistant before Commencement. Please note that the material that will be inserted into the map pocket will need to be trimmed to 7 ½” x 10 ½” so that it will fit. 

Thorndike Fund

Students producing an art or film project are eligible for this credit and may apply for it by submitting a Thorndike application form to the Registrar's Office by the April thesis registration deadline. Candidates producing an art or film project should contact the Registrar's Office for the application form.

Contact Information

Registrar's Office:

Amanda Daddona, Senior Associate Registrar: