Honors Thesis

Honors Regulations:

Candidates for Honors in SiSP must submit an Honors (or High Honors) level thesis by the University’s deadline, and must have maintained an average grade of 88.3 (B+) or better in Wesleyan courses that are cross-listed with the Science in Society Program.  The thesis will be read by the tutor and two additional readers; at least one of the three must be a member of the SiSP faculty.  If the two readers other than the tutor agree in their evaluation of the thesis, that settles the determination, and the tutor has no further role.  If the two other readers disagree in their assessment, the tutor then makes the final determination, taking into account the tutor’s own assessment of the thesis as well as being informed by the two readers’ evaluations and their reasons for their evaluation. 

Senior theses:

Theses submitted for Honors normally result from two semesters of independent research tutorials taken with an appropriate faculty adviser during the senior year.  A thesis is an advanced research project that normally presupposes the completion of relevant course work before the thesis project is undertaken.  SiSP theses normally address topics that are grounded in the student’s area of concentration, and the course work in the Program which the student has completed prior to undertaking the thesis project at the beginning of the senior year, although additional relevant courses during the senior year are also encouraged.  Theses submitted as a candidate for departmental Honors in SiSP must comply with all of the regulations of the University Honors Committee. 

How to Consider the Possibility of Undertaking a Senior Thesis:

1. There are tradeoffs involved in undertaking thesis research.  A thesis displaces two of the courses a student might otherwise have taken during the senior year, when students are also best prepared to undertake advanced courses in the Program and in other departments.  A thesis also requires the student to have done a significant proportion of his or her course work for the major before the senior year begins, in order to be prepared to do advanced research.  Students who spend a semester abroad often find it especially difficult to complete by the end of the junior year the course work theoretical, methodological, and/or substantive preparation for a thesis project.  Students whose concentration is provided by a second major in a scientific discipline are normally best prepared to undertake thesis research that takes significant advantage of their scientific background.

2. Students who think they might want to pursue a thesis should discuss possible topics with one or more members of the SiSP faculty during the spring of the junior year in order to assess their preparation for advanced research in that area, to refine their conception of a possible topic, and to begin considering who might be a suitable faculty adviser.

3. The student is responsible for finding an appropriate thesis tutor, and securing that faculty member’s agreement to serve as thesis tutor.  The Program faculty can help students find a suitable adviser, but cannot guarantee that there will be a faculty member on duty who is prepared and able to advise a thesis on the student’s chosen topic during that year.

What Do I Need to Do to Undertake a Thesis?

1. Students should pre-register in April for a full course load in the fall even if they know they plan to undertake a thesis, since thesis registration cannot be done until the fall, and possible thesis advisers usually cannot commit themselves definitively at the time of pre-registration.

2. The Program faculty can be most helpful in guiding students toward an appropriate topic and adviser if they know of a student’s interest before the end of the spring semester of the junior year.  Students who know they are seriously interested in writing a thesis should inform the Chair before the end of classes in the spring semester of their interest, their proposed topic area, and the names of potential advisers with whom they have spoken about this project.  It is highly advisable to secure the agreement of a thesis adviser for the fall before you leave campus at the end of the spring semester, although there are times when it is not possible to do so.  If you remain interested in writing a senior thesis, but do not yet have an adviser at the end of the spring semester your junior year, please inform the SiSP Chair of your continuing interest.

3. Upon returning for the fall semester, you will need to secure the agreement of a thesis adviser if you have not already done so, and submit a Thesis Tutorial Request through the online add/drop system for approval by your thesis adviser, major adviser, and Program Chair.