Your thesis project allows you to apply the critical thinking and communication skills you have learned in the CHC to explore ideas, problems, approaches, and practices in your field of study. Each thesis project is unique and collectively they reflect the diversity of creative, professional, and research work and training at the University of Oregon. With the support of a primary thesis advisor from your field of study, you will build knowledge, skills, and experience in pursuit of your goals.
We like to think of the thesis project as having three stages: Design, Action and Communication.
DESIGN YOUR PROJECT
Planning is essential to a successful thesis project. Although most thesis projects are completed during your final year, it is never too early to start building relationships with faculty members in your area(s) of interest and thinking about possible topics.
The HC 277H Thesis Orientation course (2 cr, P/N) provides a practical orientation to the thesis project and will help you understand the long-term value of a thesis project by exploring skills and capabilities you can gain through the process. Most students take HC 277H in their second year, although students interested in the laboratory sciences may benefit from taking the class during their first year.
Develop an Idea
While your project topic should relate to your major or minor field of study, it may germinate in many different ways. For some students, it can originate in the courses you take and the professors who inspire you. For other students, it may be an internship or a lab experience that sparks your interest in a particular problem or issue. Once you have identified a primary thesis advisor, they will work with you to refine and focus your project.
Form Your Thesis Committee
CHC thesis projects are supervised and evaluated by a committee consisting of at least two faculty members:
- Your Primary Thesis Advisor must be a tenure-related or career faculty member at the UO who specializes in your field of study. Your primary thesis advisor will mentor you throughout the thesis process, providing regular guidance and feedback.
- Your CHC Representative must be a member of the CHC core faculty. They will provide a non-specialist perspective on the project and assist with process-related questions and issues.
You select your thesis committee members. This means that you are responsible for reaching out to both potential primary thesis advisors and CHC representatives to invite them to serve.
Keep in mind:
- You need a Primary Thesis Advisor to register for Thesis Prospectus
- If you’re unsure about how to approach faculty members to serve on your committee, talk to your CHC Faculty Advisor. Remember that faculty members can only serve on so many committees, so ask early!
- As members join your committee, please notify Miriam Jordan, CHC Academic and Thesis Programs Manager, using the form CHC Thesis Committee.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- How can I tell if a potential primary thesis advisor is a tenure-related or career faculty member and therefore eligible to serve in this role?
- Does my primary thesis advisor need to be in my major department?
- Is there a petition process to have someone who is not a tenure-related or career faculty member serve as my primary thesis advisor?
- Is my CHC Representative the same as my CHC Faculty Advisor?
- When does it make sense to add a third member to the thesis committee?
- Who is eligible to serve in committee roles other than Primary Thesis Advisor and CHC Representative?
- What are the expectations for my primary thesis advisor? What do I do if I am having trouble communicating with them?
- I’m having trouble finding a primary thesis advisor. What can I do?
Create a Plan
In the HC 477H Thesis Prospectus course (2 cr, P/N), you will develop a specific plan for your thesis project and solidify your collaborative working relationship with your primary thesis advisor. A prospectus is a written project plan (examples available here) in which you refine your project questions or goals, situate your project within your field, decide on the appropriate methods and practices, lay out a detailed timeline for completion, and give an oral presentation on your project with your primary thesis advisor in attendance. By the end of the class, you will know exactly what you need to do to complete your thesis project.
If you will be including co-authored or collaborative work in your thesis, it is important to incorporate this into your planning process and to communicate with your PTA and collaborators very early on. You are allowed to include co-authored or collaborative work in your CHC thesis project, provided that it is properly attributed and that the thesis committee can assess your individual contributions. Detailed guidelines for including co-authored or collaborative work in your final thesis submission can be found in the Guidelines for Collaborative Thesis Work.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- When should I take HC 477H Thesis Prospectus?
- How do I get permission to register for HC 477H Thesis Prospectus?
- I filled out the HC 477H Thesis Prospectus preauthorization form but haven’t received permission to register. What do I do?
- My major department also has a thesis prospectus class. Do I need to take that class as well as HC 477H?
ACT ON YOUR IDEAS
Since every student’s thesis project is unique, the precise steps involved in completing yours will be specific to you. Draw on the plan you created in Thesis Prospectus and stay in touch with your primary thesis advisor as you refine your project. Don’t forget that if your thesis project involves working with human subjects (interviews, surveys, experiments, etc.) or vertebrate animals, you may need to go through university approval processes.
Take Independent Study Credits
You can't complete a thesis project in your spare time. Although you are not required to do so, you may want to enroll in independent study credits through your major, minor, or through the honors college so that thesis work becomes part of your weekly work schedule. To create time in your schedule for independent study credits for thesis-related work, you can replace one elective HC colloquium with four or more credits of independent research related to your thesis.
Apply for Funding
Depending on your project, you may decide to apply for a grant or stipend to support your work. The CHC and University of Oregon offer many programs to support student research. For most grants, you will need to apply with the support of your primary thesis advisor, so make sure you talk with them well in advance of the grant deadlines. Your primary thesis advisor may also know about funding opportunities specific to your discipline.
Regardless of your topic or field of study, it is important to maintain regular contact with your primary thesis advisor. Expectations about contact may vary from field to field. Set up a schedule for meetings with your primary thesis advisor and let them know if any problems occur.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I know if I need to go through the human subjects research approval process?
- How do I know if I need to go through the vertebrate animal research approval process?
- Can I study abroad and still complete a thesis?
- Can I conduct human subjects research while studying abroad?
COMMUNICATE THE RESULTS
Communicating the results of your project to your committee, project stakeholders, and the public is a critical component of the CHC thesis process. This is formally known as the thesis defense. In the term you defend, you will circulate your thesis project to your committee and the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager 10 days in advance of the oral defense, successfully complete the oral defense, and submit the final thesis. See the information on Your Defense Term for deadlines you will need to meet during your defense term.
Write your Thesis
All CHC thesis projects have a written component. The form, content, and length of the written component will vary depending on your field of study and specific project; work with your primary thesis advisor to determine what is appropriate for your field. For all projects, even those that center creative or professional work, the written component should situate the project within the field:
- How does your work engage, compare with, or relate to the work of others?
- What are the methods or practices utilized and why were they chosen?
- Why is this work a significant or unique contribution?
Thesis projects may also include components such as performances, artwork, products, recordings, slide-decks, digital projects, or public-facing materials; your committee can help you decide how best to present non-written and experiential elements of the project in the final thesis. The written component of the thesis should follow the CHC Thesis Formatting Guidelines.
Present your Work
The oral defense requires careful preparation but is also an opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments with your committee, the CHC community, friends, and family. In the oral defense, you will demonstrate your depth of knowledge by synthesizing your thesis project in a 20-30 minute presentation and answering questions from your committee and audience members. Immediately following the presentation and Q&A, your committee will consult privately and, using the thesis evaluation criteria, determine whether you have successfully completed the thesis requirement. It is not uncommon for students to make minor revisions to the project prior to final submission. In rare cases significant revisions may be required. Defenses may take place in person, on Zoom, or in a hybrid format.
Archive your Thesis
Following your defense, you will submit the final version of your thesis project to the CHC using the CHC Thesis Post-Defense Form. We strongly encourage you to archive your thesis on the UO Libraries Scholars' Bank, an open-access digital archive with the mission to preserve and disseminate the intellectual output of University of Oregon faculty, staff, and students. By completing the UO Libraries Scholars’ Bank Contribution Form, you will give the CHC permission to submit your thesis to the Scholars’ Bank after completion of the thesis process and approval of your final version. Make sure you discuss Scholars’ Bank submission with your primary thesis advisor prior to filling out the form.
For more information about archiving, see the page Your Defense Term.