CHC Thesis Evaluation Criteria

After a thesis defense, Clark Honors College thesis committee members evaluate the quality of the overall thesis project and make a decision. The decisions are:



The student has produced work that is satisfactory in the five evaluation areas. Students may make minor revisions prior to final submission of the thesis.


Decision Withheld

In cases where revisions are required for the thesis to be considered completed, the committee may opt to withhold their decision. A timeline should be set for completion of revisions that provides time for them to be reviewed and the thesis submitted by the Thursday of Week 10 at noon.


Not Completed

This decision is for work that is unacceptable in most or all of the five areas. Very few Clark Honors College theses are given a "Not Completed" evaluation, not only because of the general high quality of the work turned in by Clark Honors College students, but also because thesis committee members discourage students from standing for oral examination if they are not prepared and the committee members have not read and approved of the thesis, at least conditionally.


The evaluation must reflect the student's performance in the following five areas:

Initiative and Self-Direction:

  • independence and initiative to conceive and see a project through to completion
  • evidence of strong problem-solving skills
  • productive, proactive, and effective communication with their committee

Relevance and/or Originality of Project:

  • ability to conceive of a project topic that is highly relevant within the field and for society more broadly
  • poses a problem that demonstrates critical analysis and interpretation or creative engagement
  • asks relevant research questions or situates project in a way that builds on four years of study within a specific major and within a particular area

Project Quality and Mastery:

  • demonstrates use of relevant methods, skills, and practices to thoroughly and effectively investigate a research topic or complete a project according to the standards of the field
  • shows mastery of the relevant content, data, secondary literature, and research material; logically and clearly articulates the project goals, research questions, arguments, and/or outcomes
  • shows mastery of information related to the project topic, field, and discipline
  • demonstrates concrete evidence of critical analysis and interpretation

Writing Quality:

  • ability to conceive, frame, and convey arguments eloquently and with compelling evidence
  • demonstrates one's own intellectual contributions and conclusions that are accurate and compelling to their audience
  • ability to organize project documentation with sophisticated ideas in a clear, well-organized, structured, accessible way
  • the writing adheres to discipline-specific styles while also speaking across fields and audiences
  • clear and concise writing that is free of errors and uses correct citation style for the field

Oral Defense Quality:

  • delivered a well-organized, engaging, and polished presentation with information that is accurate and compelling
  • showed ability to communicate orally one's project questions, arguments, results, and broader conclusions
  • conveyed complex and difficult concepts clearly to both specialists and a broad audience
  • demonstrated capacity to think in the moment and respond effectively to questions from the thesis committee and audience