The Burnett Honors College is pleased that you are interested in pursuing research and creative activity that can lead to Honors in the Major (HIM) recognition. This handbook contains information to guide you through the HIM thesis process from inception to completion. Modeled after a master’s thesis program, the HIM program enables capable and qualified students to pursue advanced undergraduate research and creative activities. This program structures opportunities for you to experience the rewards of independent research that would be otherwise unavailable through standard course offerings. In addition, your efforts will be recognized by the award of an Honors medallion upon graduation, and Honors distinction on your transcript and diploma. What follows is an overview of the major steps that you will need to follow in order to graduate with HIM distinction.
Section I: General Information
The Burnett Honors College coordinates the Honors in the Major (HIM) program, which is designed to encourage the best juniors and seniors to undertake original and independent work in his or her major field of study. Working closely with a faculty committee, students work over at least two semesters to design an Honors thesis or project.
The faculty committee consists of a UCF faculty mentor from the student’s declared major who serves as the Thesis Chair and a second committee member that can be from the major area or outside of the major area as long as the member meets the minimum requirements. Additional committee members from UCF, other academic institutions, or community members may be added in consultation with the Thesis Chair.
The Burnett Honors College provides the structure and oversight for the HIM program, but the academic direction and approval of the thesis project is the responsibility of the student’s faculty thesis committee and academic department. In some cases, departments or colleges have additional requirements for students who are pursuing the HIM program. These majors include, but are not limited to, Nursing, Biomedical Sciences and English. In addition to formal requirements, each department will have its own standards as to what constitutes a proper thesis or project report. Students must consult his or her Thesis Chair or HIM Coordinator for specific thesis guidelines.
At a minimum, the following criteria must be met for admission into the Honors in the Major program*:
- Sixty (60) completed hours of college credit
- Twelve (12) completed upper division hours of college credit
- At least a 3.2 Overall GPA or UCF GPA**
- At least two semesters remaining prior to graduation
**Biomedical Sciences requires a 3.4 Overall GPA and Nursing requires a 3.4 GPA in Nursing.
To graduate with Honors in the Major, students must complete all of the following:
- Three (3) credit hours of Honors Directed Readings in which a grade of “A”, “B”, or “S” is earned.
- Three (3) credit hours of Honors Thesis in which a grade of “A”, “B”, or “S” is earned.
- A formed committee that meets the requirements of the HIM program, and a proposal that has been approved by the entire thesis committee.
- Meeting all of the HIM deadline requirements, including the submission of the HIM proposal, successful completion of the format review, oral defense, Thesis Approval and Thesis Attachment form.
- Successful submission of the thesis to the UCF library.
Every student who successfully completes the Honors in the Major program graduates with Honors in the Major distinction. This distinction is printed on the students’ diploma and final transcript. Students with a “Z” designation on his/her final transcript are not eligible to graduate with Honors in the Major distinction.
Students must enroll in a minimum of two Honors independent study courses for the Honors in the Major program: Honors Directed Readings (xxx 4903H) and Honors Thesis Writing (xxx 4970H). Each of these independent study courses are weighted as 3 credit hours and may be taken in addition to any other course work each semester. If a student needs additional time to complete Honors Directed Readings or Honors Thesis, he or she may request to enroll in Honors Directed Readings II (xxx 4904H) or Honors Thesis Writing II (xxx 4971H) at the end of his or hers Honors Directed Reading and Honors Thesis semester. The progression of enrollment is as follows:
- Honors Directed Readings I (xxx 4903H) – required course (3 credit hours)
- Honors Directed Readings I (xxx 3165H) – required course for Nursing students during Summer C semester only (3 credit hours)
- Honors Directed Readings II (xxx 4904H) – optional course (1- 3 credit hours)
- Honors Thesis I (xxx 4970H) – required course (3 credit hours)
- Honors Thesis II (xxx 4971H) – optional course (1 – 3 credit hours)
Students enroll in Honors in the Major coursework by completing a registration agreement from the Office of Honors Research. Students will be required to complete a registration agreement before each semester in which they select to enroll in Honors in the Major course credit.
If a student is seeking to have Honors in the Major coursework replace electives or other degree requirements, the student must speak with an academic advisor in their department. Departments must grant permission for Honors in the Major coursework to replace other degree requirements if the department currently does not allow these courses to serve as elective credit.
Honors in the Major course work may be graded on either a letter-scale or as a pass/fail. The Thesis Chair is responsible for grading the course at the end of each semester. Students should discuss their preference of a letter grade or a pass/fail grade with their Thesis Chair prior to submitting the Honor in the Major registration form for the semester.
Only the major department can grant permission for excess credit hour overrides. Overrides are necessary if a student plans to exceed 17 hours in the Fall or Spring semester, or 14 hours in the Summer. If a student expects they will need an override, they must turn in the registration form as early as possible to allow enough time to have the override processed by The Burnett Honors College.
Semesters of enrollment in the Honors in the Major program do not need to be sequential. However, in order to keep our records accurately updated students are required to notify the Office of Honors Research of enrollment plans as well as the anticipated semesters of thesis completion and university graduation.
If a student does not have contact of any kind with the Office of Honors Research for more than two subsequent semesters, the student will be removed as an Active Student from the Honors in the Major program. In this instance, students must set up a formal meeting with the office and submit a letter of support from the Thesis Chair for reinstatement consideration as an Honor in the Major student.
Honors in the Major students receive the benefits of being a Burnett Honors College student. The honors privileges are terminated when a student withdraws from the program. This is the case regardless of whether students have registered to participate in any events or submitted any voluntary donations to the College.
Graduation and Honors Distinction
Like the academic college, the Burnett Honors College requires that students submit an Intent to Graduate form at the beginning of the semester in which the student plans to graduate from the University of Central Florida. Every student who completes the Honors in the Major completion requirements earns Honors in the Major distinction on his or her diploma and transcript.
During the student’s graduating semester, the student and his or her Thesis Chair will receive an invitation to The Burnett Honors College Graduation banquet. Banquet is traditionally held the week of commencement. Students who have met the Honors in the Major completion requirements will receive an Honors Medallion. The medallion is then worn with his or her academic regalia at commencement
Section II: Thesis Chair (and Committee) Eligibility
The Thesis Chair serves as a mentor for the Honors in the Major student. The Thesis Chair will aid a student in selecting the thesis committee as well as in narrowing his or her topic of study within the discipline. Students selecting a thesis chair, should seek a faculty member with interests and expertise in areas compatible with the intended thesis or project topic. Faculty members have their own guidelines and structure for a student’ thesis projects.
This will be the faculty member who will serve as the mentor during the writing of the thesis or creative project. The Honors in the Major Thesis Chair should be tenured, tenure earning, have a multiple-year contract at UCF and is in the department of your major OR have a terminal degree and a multiple-year contract at UCF and is in the department of your major. Exceptions may apply to students from departments or colleges with grandfathered agreements (i.e., Legal Studies, Nursing, and Regional Campuses).
Thesis Committee Member
The Honors in the Major program requires that at least one additional faculty member serve on the thesis committee. The additional faculty member can be selected from within or outside of the major. The committee member must hold a terminal degree and/or be a subject matter expert in the field of the student’s Honors in the Major thesis.
Students in biomedical sciences are required to have a thesis that consist of your thesis chair and at least two additional faculty members. One of the faculty members must be from a unit outside of your chair’s home Division.
Optional Committee Members
Students have the option of choosing up to two additional members to serve as part of the thesis committee. It is advised that students consult with his or her Thesis Chair prior to selecting additional members. Additional members are not required to be faculty members at UCF.
Changes to Thesis Committee
Any changes to the committee identified on the thesis proposal will require notification to the Office of Honors Research. Please note, any changes to the thesis committee must be addressed well ahead of the defense date.
Section III: Directed Readings Semester
For Honors in the Major, students must enroll in a minimum of three credit hours of Honors Directed Readings. Students may take up to six hours of Honors Directed Readings (xxx 4903H and xxx 4904H).
During Directed Readings students will, in consultation with the Thesis Chair, initiate bibliographic research on the topic of interest and develop a research design. At this stage, the remaining members of the thesis committee must be selected. Students will submit a thesis proposal to the thesis committee for approval no later than the deadline posted for the semester in which Directed Readings is undertaken. If students are taking a sequence of two Directed Readings courses, the proposal must be submitted by the deadline posted for the second Directed Readings term.
The grade for this semester is dependent upon the communication with the Thesis Chair and committee, the quality and depth of the work, and the completion of the Directed Readings semester requirements in a timely manner.
If a student is interested in taking advantage of Directed Readings II (xxx 4904H), they must e-mail the Office of Honors Research (email@example.com) during the Directed Readings I semester.
Directed Readings Requirements
- Attend an Honors in the Major Orientation
- Identify a Thesis Committee with Eligible Requirements
- Complete a Thesis Proposal
- Submit Thesis Proposal to the Office of Honors Research with Cover Page by Semester Deadline
Honors in the Major Orientation
All incoming Honors in the Major students are required to attend one of the face to face or online HIM Orientation sessions normally held within two weeks of his or her starting semester. This Orientation is designed to provide students with a complete overview of the Honors in the Major program, and address questions and concerns that students may have about the thesis writing process. Orientation dates will sent to enrolled students via their knights email.
Thesis Committee Formation
The thesis committee’s role is to guide students in the research. The members of the committee should be carefully selected to include individuals who will contribute to the conceptualization and development of the thesis. Students and the Thesis Chair will work together in selecting additional committee members. Students and the Thesis Chair may add additional members to the thesis committee as needed. The thesis committee is finalized with the submission of the thesis proposal cover page, which should include each committee member’s signature.
See Thesis Chair and Eligibility requirements in Section II of this handbook.
The final requirement of the Directed Readings course is a thesis proposal. A thesis proposal is a document that outlines the thesis topic, defines the issues that the thesis will address, and explains why the topic warrants further research. It should identify a problem and provide a proposed solution to that problem. For students conducting more theoretical or comparative analyses, the structure could also take the form of chapters that define and specify each concept, and a concluding chapter that brings all of these ideas together. For students in the arts, a proposal and thesis may take the form of a creative project.
See Thesis Proposal examples here.
Formatting & Length of a Thesis Proposal
The Thesis Chair and committee will specify a formatting style to be used for the proposal (e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago, IEEE). The proposal should be formatted according to the guidelines set forth in the selected style guide. The most recent editions of formatting style manuals for APA, MLA, Chicago, and others are available from the “reserves” section of the UCF library. The OWL at Purdue is also a largely reliable online resource for formatting.
The proposal must a be a minimum of five content pages (excluding the bibliography or reference list). An average proposal for the Honors in the Major program ranges between 10 and 20 pages (excluding graphs, charts, references, or bibliography), is double-spaced, uses a 12 pt. standard Serif or Sans-Serif font, and has at least a 1-inch margin on each side. Each discipline is different and students should ask the Thesis Chair and committee about the length of the proposal and what sections/chapters that need to be included.
Thesis Proposal Cover Page
The proposal will need to include a cover page. This cover page verifies the members of the thesis committee, and also verifies that the student supports the proposal. This cover page needs to also include the signature of the Department Chair or HIM Coordinator.
When creating the proposal cover page, students want to make sure that the degrees and titles of the committee members are correct. The best way to do this is to visit UCF department/college websites.
Templates and examples of the thesis proposal cover page can be found here.
Submission of Thesis Proposal
To the Committee
At least two weeks before the proposal is due to the Honors College, students must submit a completed draft of the proposal to the committee. Typically, students and the Thesis Chair will work on the proposal throughout the Directed Readings I (and Directed Readings II, if applicable) semester. Once students and the Thesis Chair agree that the proposal is ready to be distributed to the committee, students are responsible for sending the proposal to the committee for review and approval. The committee members will provide comments and suggestions about the proposal and research. The student and the Thesis Chair then decide how to incorporate these suggestions into the proposal.
To the Office of Honors Research
A signed copy of the approved proposal must be submitted by the deadline posted for the Directed Readings I (or Directed Readings II, if applicable) semester, unless the student has obtained prior approval from the Director of the Office of Honors Research.
When turning in the proposal to the Office of Honors Research, all signatures must be completed. The Thesis Chair, all other members of the thesis committee, and the Department Chair or Department HIM Coordinator must sign the thesis proposal cover page. Students will not be able to register for the Thesis I course until the signed proposal is submitted.
Students who are planning on taking two semesters of Directed Readings will turn in the proposal at the end of his or her second Directed Readings semester.
Discipline-specific proposal examples with cover pages can be found on our website here. The examples should be used for reference only and not necessarily as templates. Students should note that each academic discipline is different and students should ask his or her Thesis Chair about what should be included the proposal and how it should be formatted.
Section IV: Thesis Semester
Following the successful completion of Honors Directed Readings and the preparation and approval of the proposal, students will enroll in three hours of Honors Thesis Writing (xxx 4970H). During this semester, a student will work closely with his or her Thesis Chair to develop the Honors in the Major thesis. When appropriate, other committee members should be consulted to review and comment on the student’s written work.
Students may also choose to take a subsequent semester of thesis credit for 1 or 3 additional hours if it is determined that more time is needed to complete the thesis requirements.
Thesis Semester Requirements
- Attend Thesis Format Review
- Submit Notice of Defense
- Complete Oral Thesis Defense
- Submit Thesis Forms
- Submit Thesis to STARS (instructions sent to student when thesis forms and format review are completed)
Students are required to meet with the Thesis Editor for the thesis format review by the deadline posted for the Thesis writing semester. Students will not receive the information to upload his or her thesis unless this review is completed.
During the format review, the Thesis Editor is looking at formatting not content. The Thesis Editor will be looking to make sure that the title page is correct, headings and subheadings are formatted consistently, margins are correct, tables and graphs are formatted properly, etc.
The thesis does not need to be complete for the format review, but enough information must be present so that the format review is useful. If a student successfully completes the format review, he or she will not be required to resubmit the document for a secondary review. If a student is asked to make changes and resubmit the document for approval, he or she must send the Thesis Editor a digital copy of the thesis for review before submitting a final copy to the UCF library.
A student may review Thesis Formatting here.
Students will establish with their Thesis Chair and committee a mutually agreed upon thesis defense date that will be no later than the deadline published by the program. For the thesis defense, students are expected to prepare a formal presentation about his or her thesis and answer questions about the thesis that are posed by each committee member. Because each discipline and committee is different, students should ask his or her Thesis Chair what is expected for the defense. In many cases, the entire committee will approve the thesis immediately following the defense. In other instances, the committee will approve the thesis after some revisions are made to the document.
Notice of Defense
Students will establish with their Thesis Chair and committee a mutually agreed upon thesis defense date that will be no later than the deadline for the respective semester. Students must provide an electronic PDF version of his or her notice of defense, signed by the Thesis Chair, to the Office of Honors Research in the Burnett Honors College at least one week prior to the date of the student's defense.
Notice of Defense template found here.
These forms must be submitted to the Office of Honors Research during the student's final thesis semester. Forms can be found here.
Thesis Attachment Form
Prior to submitting the thesis, students must complete the Honors in the Major Thesis Attachment form and have it signed by his or her Thesis Chair. This form allows:
- The Thesis Chair and committee to verify that they have reviewed the results of the thesis submission to Turnitin.com/iThenticate and that the thesis is an original document.
- Students to indicate how he or she would like the thesis to be made public once it is submitted to the UCF library.
Students who have pending patents, U.S. copyrights, or permissions may delay the electronic dissemination of his or her thesis for six months, with available consecutive six month extensions available for approval upon request.
Students must submit a copy of their thesis to plagiarism software Turnitin.com or iThenticate by the deadline listed in the Thesis writing semester. While this review can be done early in the semester, students should wait to submit his or her document until it is near completion or completed for this review to be most useful.
The Thesis Chair is responsible for reviewing the student’s thesis through Turnitin.com or iThenticate. The Thesis Chair will ask for the student’s thesis so that he or she can upload it. Most faculty have undergone training by the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL) and have access to Turnitin.com. If the Thesis Chair has questions about Turnitin.com, they should contact FCTL for assistance: http://fctl.ucf.edu/. For iThenticate, faculty should contact the UCF Office of Research & Commercialization.
The results of the submission to Turnitin.com/iThenticate are not reported to the university. The results should be discussed by the student, the Thesis Chair, and the committee. The Thesis Chair will sign off on the Thesis Attachment form to verify that this review has been completed and that no issues exist with plagiarism.
Thesis Approval Forms
It is recommended that students take the Thesis Approval Form to their thesis defense. Once the members of the Committee have reviewed the results of the Turnitin/iThenticate submission, attended
the thesis defense, and approve the thesis they must sign this form. In addition, the student's department chair must also sign. After the Department Chair’s signature is obtained, the form must be submitted to the Office of Honors Research where the Dean will provide the final signature. Students should note that changes in the thesis title and committee are unacceptable once the form has been submitted.
The committee identified on the Thesis Approval form must match the committee that the Office of Honors Research has on file. If any changes were made to the committee this matter must be addressed well ahead of the defense date.
After a student successfully completes his or her format review and submits the Thesis Approval Form and Thesis Attachment Form they will receive instructions to upload the final thesis document to the university library. Students should follow these instructions carefully prior to submitting his or her document.
Changes to the thesis cannot be made once the document is submitted to the UCF library. This includes any formatting changes, grammatical errors, or misspellings.
There is a deadline by which student must submit the thesis to the library each semester. If the student misses this deadline for a particular semester, he or she will not complete the Honors in the Major program that semester.
All Honors in the Major theses are housed in UCF's Showcase of Text, Archives, Research & Scholarship (STARS) digital repository: http://stars.library.ucf.edu/honorstheses/
In the student’s graduating semester, they will be asked to submit the Honors in the Major Exit Survey. This survey is online and the Office of Honors Research will send a link for students to take this survey at the end of the semester.
Students should use this survey to provide honest, detailed, and constructive feedback about their experience in the Honors in the Major program. We will use the comments as a means of improving this program for future students.