Thesis Guide

CHC Thesis Four Year Overview

First/Second Year

  • Declare major no later than Week 4 of the sixth term of enrollment (usually, spring term of second year). 
  • Declare degree (B.A., B.S., BFA, BMus, etc.) by emailing registrar@uoregon.edu from official UO email address 
  • Consider studying abroad to develop a topic, conduct research, and/or to add a global perspective to a thesis.
  • Develop relationships with potential primary thesis advisors in major/field of study (take classes, join a lab, conduct research, etc.).
  • Take HC 277H: Thesis Orientation by the end of the second year (though students in the sciences who intend to conduct research in a lab should plan on taking HC 277H as early as feasible—either in spring of their first year or fall of their second year). Complete this course at least one term prior to registering for the HC 477H: Thesis Prospectus. 

Third Year

  • Begin to identify specific discipline-based topics and research questions appropriate to the field of study.
  • Identify a primary thesis advisor (a tenured, tenure-track, or career non-tenure track faculty member in a student's major/field of study) by fall of the third year (or at least one year before the planned defense). 

Spring Term of Third Year 

  • Take HC 477H: Thesis Prospectus: This course should be taken two to three terms before anticipated thesis defense. Most students take HC 477H during Spring term of their third year or Fall term of their fourth year if they are planning for a Spring term defense in their fourth year.
    • To register for HC 477H, submit the Thesis Prospectus Application, (electronically signed by the primary thesis advisor), along with a one-page description of your thesis idea and a preliminary (non-annotated) bibliography by 5:00 p.m. on Friday of Week 6 the term before you intend to enroll in HC 477H. Pre-authorization forms submitted after this priority deadline can still be processed, pending availability of seats in HC 477H sections.
  • To receive a passing grade in HC 477H: 
    • Write a thesis prospectus
    • Defend the prospectus in an oral presentation in class with primary thesis advisor in attendance.
    • Complete the Graduation Audit
  • Before the end of the course: 
    • Identify a CHC representative, and then notify the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager via email (mjordan@uoregon.edu), who will update the CHC database, and provide further instructions.
    • If possible, work with primary thesis advisor to identify a Second Reader and then notify the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager via email (mjordan@uoregon.edu), who will update the CHC database and provide further instructions. 

Third/Fourth Year

  • Optional: Register for Research (401) credits and/or Thesis (403) credits in the major. Four independent study credits related to the thesis can substitute for an elective colloquium: see details on the CHC website . 
  • Apply to graduate (up to four terms prior to expected graduation) on DuckWeb
  • Apply for funding including CHC Scholarships and Awards
  • Apply for university scholarships and grants offered by other departments and centers on campus. 

Fourth Year

  • One Term Before Defense
    • If it hasn’t yet been done, identify the second reader, an expert in the thesis field. Notify the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager via email, who will update the CHC database, and provide further instructions. 
    • Apply for graduation on DuckWeb. if it hasn't yet been done. It’s ideal to apply during the first few weeks of the term prior to the graduation term; this permits timely updating of degree guides to ensure completion of all graduation requirements. 

Final Term of Attendance/Defense Term

  • Two Weeks into Defense Term
    • Faculty tend to have very busy schedules at the end of terms. Confirm a date, time, and place for the defense with each of the committee members as soon as possible. The last date for defenses is Friday of Week 9.
    • By the Friday of Week 4, for Fall and Winter terms and by the Friday of Week 2 for Spring term, students defending that term should have confirmed the date of the thesis defense after scheduling with the thesis committee.
    • Once students have officially scheduled their defense with their Thesis Committee, they notify the Academic & Thesis Programs Manager at mjordan@uoregon.edu or use the form CHC Thesis Defense Scheduling.
  • One Month Before Defense
    • Complete a Defense Draft of the thesis and submit it to the primary thesis advisor.
  • Week 4 of Final Term.
    • Final deadline to apply for graduation on DuckWeb is Sunday at midnight after fourth week of classes. 
    • If a student does not apply to graduate on DuckWeb by the end of Week 4 of the expected graduation term, they will have to go to the Registrar’s Office to complete a form in order to apply to graduate that same term.
  • 10 Days Before Defense
    • Submit the thesis draft to the thesis committee members and the Academic & Thesis Programs Manager (in MS Word or other preapproved format) via email as an attachment. If the document is too large, use a web site such as Dropbox. Students may submit the thesis draft as often as needed.
  • Day of Defense
    • Defend the thesis and receive the evaluation.
  • Post-Defense (No Later than Noon on Thursday of Week 10)
    • Make required revisions to your thesis (formatted to UO specifications) for final approval by your primary thesis advisor.
    • Submit the Final Electronic Archival Copy of the Thesis, in MS Word (or other preapproved format) for approval and publication to the Academic & Thesis Programs Manager using the Thesis Post-Defense Form.
    • The Academic & Thesis Programs Manager will review their Final Thesis one last time, and submit all approved theses to UO Libraries Scholars' Bank by the end of the term.

 

Quarterly Thesis Deadlines

Fall Term Thesis Deadlines

  • Friday of Week Four: Last day to confirm the date, time, and place of a Fall term thesis defense after scheduling with the thesis committee.
  • Wednesday of Week Nine: All thesis defenses must be completed by this date.
  • Thursday of Week Ten at Noon: Final Electronic Archival Copy of the Thesis (in MS Word or other pre-approved format) and accompanying paperwork are due to the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager (Miriam Jordan).
    • SUBMIT ELECTRONICALLY

Winter Term Thesis Deadlines

  • Friday of Week Four: Last day to confirm the date, time, and place of a Winter term thesis defense after scheduling with the thesis committee.
  • Friday of Week Nine: All thesis defenses must be completed by this date.
  • Thursday of Week Ten at Noon: Final Electronic Archival Copy of the Thesis (in MS Word or other pre-approved format) and accompanying paperwork are due to the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager (Miriam Jordan).
    • SUBMIT ELECTRONICALLY

Spring Term Thesis Deadlines 

  • Friday of Week Two: Last day to confirm the date, time, and place of a Spring term thesis defense after scheduling with the thesis committee.
  • Friday of Week Nine: All thesis defenses must be completed by this date.
  • Thursday of Week Ten at Noon: Final Electronic Archival Copy of the Thesis (in MS Word or other pre-approved format) and accompanying paperwork are due to the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager (Miriam Jordan).
    • SUBMIT ELECTRONICALLY

 

Getting Started with the CHC Thesis

This section covers the following topics: 

  • Introduction to the CHC Thesis 
  • HC 277H Thesis Orientation
  • Thesis Types (including examples of CHC Thesis)
  • Expected Thesis Length

Quick Links:

Introduction to the CHC Thesis

The CHC thesis is the culmination of work in a field of study—a natural outgrowth from, and expression of, the ideas, problems, and approaches taught in that discipline. It creatively applies the methods of the discipline and tests students' power and limits, reflecting dialogue, common work, and apprenticeship with faculty members in their specialized fields of interest.  

Students can write on whatever they want for their theses. But finding a thesis topic does not mean brainstorming whatever happens to appeal at a given moment. Instead, consider that the thesis is:  

  • the culmination of work in a major or field of study, i.e., a natural outgrowth from and expression of the ideas, problems, and approaches taught in the discipline, a creative application of the methods of the discipline, and an interrogation of their explanatory power and limits; and
  • a reflection of dialogue, common work, and apprenticeship with faculty members in their specialized field of interest.  

The best theses usually begin as term papers, creative projects, lab experiments, etc.; the best thesis advising relationships usually begin in the classroom or with a research assistantship or other mentored research experience with a professor.  Working with a faculty member with whom one has taken a class or conducted mentored research means beginning with a shared body of knowledge, a shared understanding of relevant questions and disciplinary standards, and a shared experience of work and personal relationship that facilitates communication during the thesis process.  

HC 277H Thesis Orientation 

HC 277H Thesis Orientation is a 2-credit class graded Pass/No Pass that introduces the thesis process and provides an overview of the steps students can take early in their studies at UO to position themselves to have a rewarding thesis experience. The course examines why the CHC asks students to write a thesis and considers the types of skills and capabilities one can gain from conducting thesis research. Students explore undergraduate research in their discipline or field of study and think about potential topics. Students learn the nuts and bolts of the CHC thesis requirements as well as how to identify and recruit a primary thesis advisor in their major or field of study.

While typically taken at some point during a student’s second year of study, the optimal time for a student to take Thesis Orientation will depend upon their major and overall plans for the thesis project. Students in the sciences who plan to conduct lab-based research for their thesis projects might benefit from taking HC 277H at the end of their first year or the beginning of their second year of study. Students in the social sciences and humanities might benefit from taking HC 277H toward the middle or end of their second year of study.  

Thesis Types

The best way to learn about theses in your field is to read CHC theses in your field. You can find paper copies of theses in the Chapman Library or look up digitally archived copies of theses on Scholars’ Bank.

Humanities and Social Sciences Theses  

Thesis projects in the humanities and social sciences take the form of an extended exploration of a research question that is informed by focused inquiry into a topic, the review of relevant literature, and original analysis and argumentation.  The contours of this type of thesis, as well as the methodological approaches employed, will vary according to discipline.  

Examples of recent humanities and social science theses include:

 

Performance/Portfolio Theses  

Performance/portfolio theses are characteristic of disciplines such as theater, music, creative writing, journalism, art and architecture, product design, and some areas of business. Performance/portfolio theses also provide a place for cross-disciplinary work, such as a math major preparing to write a play, or a history major preparing to write a thesis of historical fiction.  

While the performance/portfolio itself comprises much of the work of the thesis, a critical introduction is mandatory for all such theses, be they in theater, music, creative writing, art and architecture, journalism, or business. The critical introduction includes much more than "how I came to this topic" and "what I would do next time." Without knowledge about how other artists/scholars/critics have reflected on the problems the student wants to address, the thesis becomes another attempt to reinvent the wheel. Instead, the critical introduction to a performance/portfolio thesis demonstrates knowledge of prior work in the discipline and the general discourse about the issues the thesis confronts.

 The critical introduction includes:  

  • An analysis of what other artists, architects, etc. have thought about the problems the student seeks to address.  
  • A serious discussion of method and of the critical significance of related work in the field. 
  • A clear discussion of how the student has developed the project through a critical confrontation with the ideas of others in that area. 
  • An articulation of how the details of the work itself sought to implement the student's own ideas and in so doing attempted also to solve problems that predecessors had not.  

Disciplinary faculty and honors college advisors are best suited to providing students with help as they work to shape such a project. 

Examples of recent performance/portfolio theses include: 

 

Science and Math Theses  

Thesis projects in math and in the natural and physical sciences generally have a different structure from theses in humanities and social sciences.  Such theses fall into two general categories: theoretical and empirical.   

Theoretical theses are common in mathematics, and are also sometimes appropriate to physics, biology, computer sciences, and occasionally other sciences.  This type of thesis should investigate and analyze some new problem, or approach a problem in a novel way.  Examples include proofs, a novel series of calculations, or mathematical and computer-based models of natural phenomena.  It should not, however, be simply a review of the work of others; it's not a term paper or a book report, but a piece of original analysis that improves in some way on what was previously done.  The degree of originality may vary from one field to another; in some cases, it is most important to assemble an understanding of a higher-level problem that is original to the student more than it would be to practitioners in the field of study.  

Empirical theses are common in all fields of science.  This type of thesis is based on original research and data collection to address an original scientific question.  This is not a simple literature review; however, the data collected can be experimental (collected in a controlled laboratory setting), historical, or literature-based surveys of data from the results of others' research.  Meta-analyses, based on the results of others, are acceptable, but must be pursued with a novel question in mind.  

Regardless of the type of science or math thesis, the writing process and structure is essentially the same.  It is hoped that the "meat" of the thesis will be an essentially publishable document, or the equivalent.  The paper should be written in an appropriate scientific voice and structured like a scientific journal article.  This doesn't mean, however, that it shouldn't be written in a clear, concise, readable style.  Excessive use of passive voice is unnecessary, even in original scientific research publications, although you should follow the guidance of your primary thesis advisor’s recommendations on this issue.  

Because this is a thesis for the Clark Honors College, however, we have some unique requirements. In order to facilitate reading by a general audience, the critical background concepts should be presented in a non-technical introduction. It can also be helpful, though it is not required, to include a glossary of technical terms, though if they choose to include a glossary, students should refrain from using bold or italic font in the body of the thesis to emphasize words in the glossary; rather, those terms should be made available in the glossary to enable readers unfamiliar with the jargon to understand the more technical sections.  

Examples of recent science theses:

 

Expected Thesis Length

There is no absolute minimum, nor no absolute maximum, for a CHC thesis.  A shorter thesis— perhaps a performance/portfolio thesis derived from a senior recital and including the necessary critical introduction—would weigh in at about thirty pages. However, many theses in STEM fields may be shorter than this, depending on the standards and expectations for those fields. Perusing the shelves of the CHC library or the files on Scholars' Bank vividly demonstrates the varied lengths of CHC theses.  

What’s the general rule for thesis length?  Consider the discipline, topic, and audience, and deliver a comprehensive, disciplinarily-rigorous, readable thesis that demonstrates one's best abilities and the independent path charted.  Remember that the thesis should meet and exceed the standards of the discipline, as well as express clearly the concept, procedure, and implications of the work for a general reader. Primary thesis advisors will also help students to determine the appropriate length/scope of their projects.  

 

HC 477H Thesis Prospectus

This section covers the following topics: 

  • Overview of HC 477H 
  • How to register for HC 477H
  • When to register for HC 477H
  • Thesis Prospectus Requirements and Samples

Quick Links

Overview of HC 477H

Thesis Prospectus is a two-credit course that establishes a student's collaboration with the primary thesis advisor in order to develop a prospectus and a timeline for thesis work throughout the year. Students orally present their prospectuses to the class with the primary thesis advisor present and submit a signed thesis prospectus and a graduation audit form.  HC 477H Thesis Prospectus is graded Pass/No Pass.

How to Register for HC 477H

To register for HC 477H Thesis Prospectus you must request preauthorization to do so. To request preauthorization, you will need to submit the CHC Thesis Prospectus Form

To complete the form, in addition to basic identifying information you will need the following: 

The form will be routed to your primary thesis advisor’s email for an electronic signature, then to the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager for preauthorization. 

NOTE: It is the student's responsibility to check on the status of their online form. Go to https://forms.uoregon.edu/forms/list/Clark%20Honors%20College. Then, log in.  Find your application in "My Documents" on the top, black menu bar, then "Pending." If  your primary thesis advisor has not yet signed it, send an email reminder to them to do so. The Academic and Thesis Programs Manager cannot view your application until after their primary thesis advisor has signed it. If you have difficulty with this form, notify the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager Miriam Jordan (mjordan@uoregon.edu

When to Register for HC 477H

After you have confirmed your primary thesis advisor, submit the online Thesis Prospectus preauthorization form. You have the best chance of getting your first choice of HC 477H section if you submit this information by Friday of Week 6 of the term before you plan to take the course. Classes are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. We use the date/time stamp when each applicant completed the form to ensure equitable preauthorization of first and second choice courses.  

Students may submit their paperwork and be preauthorized to register for HC 477H until the first week of the term in which they are taking 477H as long as there are seats available. Obviously, the sooner you submit your paperwork, the more likely you are to get your first choice of HC 477H section.  Students studying abroad and seeking preauthorization are advised to contact the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager and/or their CHC faculty advisor if they have any questions or concerns while they are completing the online preauthorization application.

Thesis Prospectus Requirements and Samples

In HC 477H, you will develop your own prospectus document, which will serve as a roadmap after the course ends for you to continue your work on the project. A thesis prospectus generally includes:  

  • Title page signed by your primary thesis advisor
  •  Abstract 
  •  Project description 
  •  Research questions 
  •  Literature review
  •  Methods (or research strategy)
  •  Preliminary outline
  •  Timeline
  •  Bibliography 

Here are examples of past thesis prospectuses, available electronically, for your perusal:  

Thesis Prospectus-Archaeology.pdf 

Thesis_Prospectus-Biology.pdf (example 1)

Thesis_Prospectus-Biology (example 2)

Thesis Prospectus-Cinema Studies.pdf 

Thesis Prospectus-Comparative Literature.pdf

Thesis_Prospectus-Comparative_Literature-English.pdf

Thesis Prospectus- English.pdf

Thesis_Prospectus-Environmental_Studies.pdf

Thesis_Prospectus-Ethics.pdf

Thesis Prospectus-Sociology.pdf

Thesis Prospectus Cover Page .pdf 

 

Finding Research Opportunities

What’s the best way to get connected with research? While some theses begin in the classroom, many other theses develop out of research opportunities that students undertake with professors, either one-on-one, or in a lab setting. Still other theses may grow out of a student’s participation in professional development opportunities like internships. The earlier one can get involved with research, the better—the first year is not too soon (particularly for students in lab science fields)! The following resources can help with starting to explore research opportunities.

CHC Resources for Getting Connected with Research and Experiential Learning

  • Mentored Research Program (MRP)The CHC’s Mentored Research Program allows students to apply for funding to work as research assistants for UO faculty members. Students are eligible to apply for up to ~$1,000 of funding per term (~$3,000 per academic year) to work with a professor on a research program (which may lay the groundwork for the student’s thesis project). Additional information and application instructions can be found on the CHC MRP page.
  • Internship Funding Program (IFP) The CHC’s Internship Funding Program offers students the opportunity to apply for up to $5,000 to help fund their living expenses for low-paying or unpaid internships external to the University of Oregon. Additional information and application instructions can be found on the CHC IFP page  
  • Knight Campus Undergraduate Scholars (KCUS) ProgramThe Knight Campus Undergraduate Scholars program is a comprehensive research experience designed to develop the next generation of leading researchers. The program immerses a cohort of students in a full year of research in a Knight Campus affiliated lab from January to December each year. The CHC sponsors two KCUS research experiences each year. Additional information and application instructions can be found here.
  • CHC’s OHSU Internships Each year Oregon Health & Science University Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology (OHSU/CDCB) offers a Summer Research Internship Program. Through an ongoing partnership between OHSU and the Clark Honors College, two internship positions are reserved specifically for CHC students. Additional information and application instructions can be found here.

Other University Resources for Getting Connected with Research

  • Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) encourages and supports undergraduate research and creative scholarship in all academic disciplines. 
  • Handshake. Handshake is UO’s job search portal that includes postings for jobs, internships, and even research opportunities on campus. 
  • McNair Scholars Program. A federal TRIO program funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the McNair Scholars Program is designed to prepare students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. McNair participants are either first-generation college students with financial need, or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education and have demonstrated strong academic potential.

 

The CHC Thesis Committee

This section covers the following topics: 

  • Overview of the Thesis Committee 
  • Primary Thesis Advisor Eligibility and Role
  • CHC Representative Eligibility and Role (including list of currently available faculty)
  • Second Reader Eligibility and Role
  • Third Reader (if needed) Eligibility and Role 

Quick Links

The Thesis Committee

All CHC theses are supervised and evaluated by a three-member thesis committee. The committee consists of the following individuals: 

  • Primary Thesis Advisor: a tenure-related or career faculty member at the UO who is a specialist in your field of study. 
  • CHC Representative: a member of the CHC core faculty who typically provides a non-specialist perspective on the project and assists with process-related questions and issues. 
  • Second Reader: an expert in your field of study (can be a UO faculty member, a graduate student, or a community member not affiliated with the university). 

On rare occasions, the primary thesis advisor is a member of the CHC core faculty. In these cases, the committee has a third reader in place of the CHC representative. More detailed discussion of the eligibility requirements and roles of each committee member can be found below.

It is important to register your committee members with the Honors College. As members join your committee, please notify Academic and Thesis Programs Manager Miriam Jordan by email at mjordan@uoregon.edu or use the form CHC Thesis Committee.

Primary Thesis Advisor

The primary thesis advisor of a Clark Honors College senior thesis is a faculty member in the major (or affiliated with the major for interdisciplinary programs such as Environmental Studies or General Science), and must be a tenure-related or career non-tenure-track faculty member of the University of Oregon who is a specialist in your field of study. A faculty member listed on the UO website as an "Assistant Professor," "Associate Professor," "Professor," “Instructor,” “Senior Instructor,” “Lecturer,” or “Senior Lecturer” is usually eligible to serve as your primary advisor.  Graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and pro tem, visiting, or adjunct faculty cannot serve as primary thesis advisors. For faculty who are in the process of retirement, please have them check in with the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies (daphne@uoregon.edu) to verify their eligibility. 

Sometimes it is appropriate for the primary thesis advisor to be from a closely allied department with expertise in a similar field of study to the major field. For example, a Human Physiology major may work with a faculty member from Biology or a Comparative Literature major may work with a faculty member from English. If a student is considering working with a faculty member from outside their major department and is planning to pursue honors within your major, they should check with their major department to be sure the thesis will still be eligible to fulfill any departmental honors requirements. 

In the case of cross-disciplinary work that connects the major field with a second field:The student must be able to demonstrate a rigorous background (such as a minimum of two courses) in the relevant non-major discipline before enrolling in Thesis Prospectus, and must select a thesis advisor from the disciplinary area where the thesis will be focused. For example, a math major who wants to write a play should have a background in theatre (such as the completion of at least two theatre courses) and a primary thesis advisor from their major (Math) and a second reader from the theatre department (or vice versa). A history major who wants to write historical fiction should have a background in creative writing (e.g. by completing at least two courses in creative writing) and a primary thesis advisor in history and a second reader from creative writing (or vice versa).  

The primary thesis advisor helps shape the student's thesis project and directs it from inception through the required oral defense. The primary thesis advisor suggests initial and advanced research materials, meets regularly with the student, discusses and evaluates student progress, responds to multiple drafts, and attends both the required HC 477H: Thesis Prospectus class presentation and the 90 minute thesis defense. The primary thesis advisor also guarantees that the student's work meets the field's disciplinary standards. The primary thesis advisor may preside over the defense or may request that the CHC representative do so. The primary thesis advisor assumes responsibility for communicating instructions for revisions to the student that the committee deems necessary following the defense.  

A student usually identifies a primary thesis advisor at least a year before the planned defense (that is, before registering for the required HC 477H: Thesis Prospectus class). The CHC recommends that students email a letter of introduction (include their Major and UO ID) and make an appointment with the faculty member they would like to work with on their thesis (try to schedule the appointment during the faculty member’s regularly-scheduled office hours).  Students should take the time to introduce themselves, their topic, and invite the faculty member to be their primary thesis advisor. Faculty determine their own criteria when deciding whether to accept a CHC student's request to serve as primary thesis advisor. 

CHC Representative

The CHC representative is a member of the CHC’s core faculty. Students often select a CHC core faculty member who will bring the liberal arts perspective of a scholar in a different discipline to the committee. CHC core faculty have a limit as to the number of thesis committees they can serve on in a given year. Here is a List of Available CHC Faculty to Serve on a CHC Thesis Committee.

The CHC representative responds to process-related questions and communicates with the primary thesis advisor, second reader, and student about the overall thesis process, time-management issues, deadlines, defense scheduling, and evaluation criteria. The CHC representative reads the thesis draft and brings to the thesis committee's adjudication the standards of the Clark Honors College.  

The student is responsible for reaching out to potential CHC representatives and confirming their acceptance to serve on the committee. Students should invite a CHC representative to join their Thesis Committee while they are taking HC 477H Thesis Prospectus, and then confirm the CHC representative’s participation in the committee by the end of Week 9 of the term in which they are completing HC 477H.

Students should send an email letter of introduction (including their student ID number) to the CHC core faculty member of their choosing. The email should describe their thesis and respectfully ask for their participation. They can also follow up with the faculty member during their office hours, if needed.

Second Reader

The second reader is an expert in a field directly or closely related to the thesis project: they can be a tenured, tenure-related, or career non-tenure-track UO faculty member, a post-doctoral fellow, a graduate student, or a professional in the field with a Bachelor's degree in that field.

The second reader reads the defense draft of the thesis and attends the defense. The second reader may also read and respond to multiple drafts as deemed appropriate by the primary thesis advisor. The second reader participates in the defense and, with the two other committee members, determines whether the thesis fulfills CHC requirements. 

Students should select their second reader in consultation with their primary thesis advisor. Students may identify the second reader as early as desired (as a benchmark, identifying the second reader by the end of HC 477H is helpful timing), but no later than the term before the defense term. 

Third Reader (only if necessary)

On rare occasions, a Clark Honors College faculty member will serve as primary thesis advisor.  In this instance, an additional CHC representative is not required. However, students still need three members serving on a thesis committee.  Therefore, students in this situation will need to identify a third reader. The requirements for the third reader are identical to the second reader (they can be a tenured, tenure-related, or non-tenure-track UO faculty member, a post-doctoral fellow, a graduate student, or a professional in the field with a Bachelor's degree in that field), and they will have the same responsibilities on the committee as the second reader. Like the second reader, the third reader should be selected in coordination with the primary thesis advisor.

 

Researching and Writing the Thesis

This section covers the following topics: 

  • Independent study credits for thesis-related work 
  • CHC funding for thesis research and professional development
  • Other university sources of funding for thesis-related work
  • Knight Library’s CHC specialist
  • Citation resources and avoiding plagiarism
  • Human subjects research protocols
  • Vertebrate animal research protocols 

As students work independently on their thesis, following the timeline they developed as part of the thesis prospectus course, it is important to maintain contact with the primary thesis advisor. Commit to the process up front, and never stop communicating, especially if problems occur. The primary advisor can help troubleshoot problems and make sure that one stays on track to complete the thesis. It is better to address problems early in the thesis process (when there is still adequate time left to handle them), than to ignore potential issues until later on, when they are likely to have become more challenging to resolve. 

Once students are ready to begin working on the thesis document, they should download and start typing into the Thesis Template (see Preparing the Thesis Document), which is already formatted according to the UO’s requirements.

Independent Study Credits for Thesis-Related Work

You can't write a thesis in your spare time. Although students are not required to do so, they may want to enroll in independent study credits through their major or through the Honors College so that thesis work becomes part of the weekly work schedule.

To facilitate integrating independent study credits for thesis-related work into your schedule, the CHC allows one elective colloquium to be replaced by four or more credits of independent research related to your thesis. These research credits may be taken in a single term or spread out over multiple terms. Once at least four credits have been accumulated, they can take the place of a single elective colloquium. Depending on the student's major, they may be able to apply these credits towards major requirements as well.

Most departments offer thesis research credits under the course number “403” (e.g., CIS 403, HIST 403). If a department does not offer a 403 course number, HC 403H credits can be supervised by any faculty member on campus (it is best for your primary thesis advisor to supervise HC 403H credits). All 403 classes are independent study credits that require permission of the instructor to enroll. Please contact the Academic Thesis and Programs Manager Miriam Jordan (mjordan@uoregon.edu) regarding enrollment in HC 403H credits and the relevant department for enrollment in 403 credits outside the honors college.

If a student completes four thesis credits under a 403 course number, they will automatically appear on the degree guide and apply towards the elective colloquium requirement. If the major department or primary advisor asks the student to take the credits under a different course number such as 401 or 406, they may complete a short petition verifying that these credits were for thesis-related research to have them apply towards an elective colloquium requirement. Students may mix credits with different course numbers and from different departments to reach four credits. 

Research credits of any course number and under any subject code may be taken either for a grade or P/NP, depending on the student's and the advisor’s preferences and the requirements of the home department.  To apply for preauthorization to register for independent study, complete the "Permission to Register for Individualized Study" form.

CHC Support for Thesis Research and Professional Development

Mentored Research Program (MRP) The CHC’s Mentored Research Program allows students to apply for funding to work as research assistants for UO faculty members. Students are eligible to apply for up to ~$1,000 of funding per term (~$3,000 per academic year) to work with a professor on a research project (which may lay the groundwork for the student’s thesis project). Additional information and application instructions can be found on the CHC MRP page. 

Internship Funding Program (IFP)  The CHC offers students the opportunity to apply for up to $5,000 to help fund their living expenses for low-paying or unpaid internships external to the University of Oregon. Additional information and application instructions can be found on the CHC IFP page.   

Other CHC Scholarships and Awards The CHC also has a number of scholarships and awards specifically to support CHC students: https://honors.uoregon.edu/clark-honors-college-scholarships

 

Other University Sources of Funding for Thesis-Related Work

University of Oregon Undergraduate Research Funding a diverse set of internal awards and fellowships for research across a range of disciplines https://research.uoregon.edu/plan/find-funding/ovpri-internal-funding-opportunities#Undergraduate.

Center for Undergraduate Research and Engagement (CURE)summer research funding, conference funding, and emergency funds https://cure.uoregon.edu/award-funding/. 

Distinguished Scholarships highly competitive national and international scholarships. Some will fund time at UO while for others you apply as an undergraduate to fund post-graduate activities. https://honors.uoregon.edu/distinguished-scholarships https://uess.uoregon.edu/ODS.

McNair Scholars Program This program provides comprehensive support to earn undergraduate degrees, complete research projects in your fields of study, and apply to graduate schools.  This well-funded program is open to students who are planning to pursue a PhD after graduation and are 1) first generation and low income AND/OR 2) from groups historically underrepresented in US higher education as defined by the Higher Education Act (Black/African American, Hispanic, Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Native Pacific Islander) https://mcnair.uoregon.edu/ .

Knight Library's CHC Specialist

Jeffrey Staiger is the Library Liaison for the Clark Honors College and the Humanities Librarian for the University of Oregon Libraries. Jeffrey is here as a research specialist to answer any questions regarding the library or research projects, as well as to connect students with other research specialists and library services. Students can make an appointment online here: https://uoregon.libcal.com/appointments/jstaiger, Email (jstaiger@uoregon.edu), or call (541-346-1897) with questions! 

Citation Resources and Plagiarism

When writing the CHC thesis, it will be very important for to cite sources and avoid plagiarism. The CHC does not require the use of a particular citation style in the thesis. Instead, students should work with their primary thesis advisor to determine what is appropriate for the field. The Knight Library has general guides for avoiding plagiarism and for using diverse citation styles. 

Citation management programs are useful tools for organizing and citing references. The Knight Library has usage guides for and offers free workshops on the most common programs: Mendeley  and Zotero. If conducting research as part of a laboratory or research group, it may be worth finding out if there is a program already in common use as using the same one will facilitate the sharing of resources.

Human Subjects Research Protocols

Research in the sciences and social sciences—psychology, anthropology, sociology, human physiology, neuroscience, and economics especially—often involves working with individual people through observation, polls, surveys, and experiments.  Such research has an ethical dimension, the treatment of which is important enough for the University to have established a separate Office for the Protection of Human Subjects, Research Compliance Services.  The intent of its policies and procedures is to ensure that the rights and safety of human subjects in research are protected. Students must respect, protect, and promote the rights and the welfare of all those affected by their work.

Your primary thesis advisor best knows the lineaments of the process and its requirements.  The Research Compliance Services website includes links to help determine whether a project falls under its purview. All faculty investigators conducting human subjects research must complete ethics training before their protocol application is approved. 

Human subjects protocol requires time and thorough preparation. Please keep in mind that the review process can take as long as two months.  Be proactive in during the junior year when consulting with disciplinary faculty on potential thesis topics to include questions about human subjects requirements.  Ultimately, be guided by the primary thesis advisor regarding the project's potential interface with human subjects protocol.

Vertebrate Animals Research Protocols

Similar to human subjects research, the university has protocols in place to ensure the responsible and ethical conduct of research with vertebrate animals. Students can learn more about research with animals at the UO from Animal Welfare Services.

Like human subjects research protocol, animal research protocols require time and thorough preparation.  Be proactive in the junior year when consulting with disciplinary faculty on potential thesis topics to include questions about animal research requirements.  Ultimately, be guided by the primary thesis advisor regarding the project's potential interface with animal research protocols and the process for obtaining necessary approvals 

 

Preparing the Thesis Document

This section covers the following topics: 

  • Using the thesis template 
  • Formatting guidelines
  • Citation 

The CHC thesis must be properly formatted in accordance with CHC and university guidelines. Ultimately, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the final thesis is correctly formatted

Using the Thesis Template

The easiest way to ensure that the thesis is properly formatted is to use the Microsoft Word template file, which contains most of the formatting information one will need for the thesis.  The template file can be downloaded here: CHC Thesis Template

The template includes instructions for use on each page. Read it carefully. Students are encouraged to type their thesis directly into the template. 

If help is needed beyond the information provided in the template itself, contact Miriam Jordan, Academic and Thesis Programs Manager in the CHC Office - mjordan@uoregon.edu 

Formatting Guidelines

The formatting rules remain the same for any word processing program one uses to write the thesis. If using a program other than Word to write the thesis, the CHC does not yet have a template, the document will need to be manually formatted, following the formatting guidelines below.

Layout of Thesis 

Pages should appear in the following order: 

  • Title page (no page number) 
  • Copyright page (optional, Roman numeral ii if used)  
  • Abstract (page ii, or iii if copyrighted)  
  • Acknowledgments and/or dedication (page iii or iv) 
  • Table of contents (page iv or v)
  • Lists of tables, graphs, figures, plates, illustrations, etc. (if included, page number, etc.) 
  • Text of thesis (begin Arabic pagination; first page has no number, then 2, 3, etc.) 
  • Appendix or appendices (if included) 
  • End notes (if not placed as footnotes or at the end of each chapter) 
  • Bibliography 

Format of Thesis 

  • Text is double-spaced 
  • Document Margins are: 1-1/2 inches on left side (1.6”); 1 inch on top, right side and bottom.  University rules are very strict. Measure a print-out of prefatory and main document pages with a ruler! 
  • Remember that all charts, surveys, artwork, and photographs must conform within these margin formats.  
  • Page numbers are to be formatted in the “footer” – double-click the bottom of the page after your title page to activate “footer” menu: 
  • In the upper right-hand corner of menu, see margin box
  • Change the “footer from bottom” to .6” (default is .5”), and the right margin should stay at 1”.
  • Prefatory pages are lowercase Roman numerals. At the end of your prefatory pages, click “Page Layout” menu tab, “Breaks,” “Section Breaks – Next Page” to transition from prefatory pages to thesis text. Another option is to split the thesis into two files: prefatory pages and main document pages.    
  • On the second page after the introductory page, format page number to Arabic numerals. Select “different first page” and select number to start at page “1.”
  • We no longer require the physical signature of your primary thesis advisor.  Instead, type the name of your primary thesis advisor and title (i.e., Dr., Ph.D.) in italics on the signature line. Then type “Primary Thesis Advisor” below the signature line. 

Formatting Tutorials 

See Canvas for three formatting tutorials: 

Citation

The CHC does not have a required citation style for the thesis. Instead, we ask students to work with their primary thesis advisor to select a citation style that is appropriate to the thesis its discipline. The Knight Library has guides for proper citation using different commonly used citation styles.

 

The CHC Thesis Defense

Topics covered in this section: 

  • Scheduling the thesis defense 
  • Distributing the defense draft of the thesis
  • Thesis defense procedures
  • Thesis evaluation 

Scheduling the Defense

The thesis defense typically (though not always) takes place during a student’s final term of attendance. Ideally, students complete the defense draft of their entire thesis one month before their scheduled oral thesis defense. This practice allows for effective revisions prior to the defense.

The student is responsible for scheduling their thesis defense with their thesis committee (all three members) and securing a room reservation for the defense. The student may use email or a free Doodle scheduling poll http://doodle.com to initiate a scheduling poll to identify a date and time that works for everyone.  Beginning with the primary thesis advisor, identify dates/times to present to the rest of the thesis committee. Once a date and time when everyone on the committee can attend has been found, the next step is to find a room.

To find a room: The Clark Honors College has two seminar rooms (101 and 102 CHA) available for thesis defenses.  Contact the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager Miriam Jordan, and she will verify and confirm the use of one of these classrooms. Students may also begin working with staff in the department of their major.  Explain to staff the situation and request a room. The primary thesis advisor may also check on availability of conference rooms in their department.  Also consider the Knight Library. If a room cannot be found, notify the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager Miriam Jordan, and she will assist in locating a room through Academic Scheduling. 

Remote scheduling: The CHC recognizes that there are circumstances in which it may be preferable or necessary to hold the thesis defense over zoom or a similar videoconferencing platform. We encourage students and their committees to work collaboratively to determine the most appropriate mode for the defense. The expectations and procedures for defenses conducted remotely are the same as for in-person defenses and are described in detail, below in the Thesis Defense Procedure heading.

Deadlines: Students should confirm the date of the thesis defense after scheduling with the thesis committee.  For Fall and Winter Term defenses, confirm the date and time by Friday of Week 4, and for Spring Term defenses, confirm the date and time by Week 2 (though as in all things thesis-related earlier is always better). After confirming the date, time (allow 90 minutes), and location with all three members of your committee, use the CHC Thesis Defense Scheduling form to formalize this commitment. This form is routed to all three members of your thesis committee and the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager, who will update the student’s file and provide further instructions. The last date to hold a defense each term is the Friday of Week 9. 

Defense Draft of the Thesis

Use the thesis template (CHC Thesis Templateto assist in formatting the thesis to UO formatting guidelines. As relevant, students are encouraged to repurpose text from their thesis prospectus into sections of their CHC Thesis Template (e.g. the discussion of methods in the thesis prospectus may be very similar if not identical to the way that the methods are discussed in the thesis draft itself). 

Keep in mind the goal is typically to submit a complete the thesis draft to the primary thesis advisor a month before the defense. This schedule affords the primary thesis advisor the time necessary to read and comment on the draft, and for subsequent revision of the thesis prior to providing the final thesis draft copies to the Thesis Committee and Academic and Thesis Programs Manager.

Defense Thesis Draft Distribution

Students send an email to the Thesis Committee and Academic and Thesis Programs Manager with the thesis draft attached.

Students must provide a copy of the thesis draft—a complete thesis in terms of research, writing, analysis, structure, and citation—to all three members of the thesis committee ten days before the scheduled thesis defense.  The faculty committee can, and will, cancel defenses if they do not receive a complete thesis by one weekthat is,seven days—before a scheduled defense.  

Students are also required to provide an electronic copy, in MS Word (or other preapproved format, such as PDF for LaTeX users), of the thesis draft to the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager (mjordan@uoregon.edu) ten (10) days before the scheduled thesis defense. Formatting will be checked to ensure that it meets UO formatting guidelines before approval is given to produce archival copies.  Please be advised that the CHC must insist on adherence to UO formatting specifications. If the format is incorrect, corrections will be requested. Ultimately, it is the student's responsibility to ensure the thesis is correctly formatted and meets UO specifications.  

Thesis Defense Procedure

Overview 

  • The CHC representative convenes the thesis committee. Should the primary thesis advisor wish, they will preside over the defense. Should the primary thesis advisor prefer it, the CHC representative presides. 
  • The presider introduces the student (and other members of the thesis defense committee) and gives a brief overview of the defense procedure. The defense room should be reserved for 90 minutes, though the defense itself will take approximately one hour or slightly longer. 
  • Set-up (as necessary) occurs in the first 10-15 minutes. 
  • The student then presents for approximately 20 minutes. However, in appropriate circumstances, the length of the presentation may be extended or shortened by prior consent of the committee. 
  • Questions posed by the thesis defense committee follow for 20-30 minutes. (Time permitting, and at the discretion of the presider, the primary thesis advisor or CHC representative may invite questions from the audience.)
  • After the defense, the primary thesis advisor or CHC representative excuses the student and audience to allow the committee members to deliberate and evaluate the thesis (5-10 minutes). Evaluation categories and guidelines will be provided by the CHC representative.
  • The primary thesis advisor calls the student back into the room and informs them of the committee's decision. The student then receives a reminder about where to find the thesis formatting guidelines from the CHC representative (5-10 minutes).
  • After the defense, the student makes final revisions to the thesis as requested by the committee and prepares the final electronic archival copy of the thesis for submission using the CHC Post Defense Form.

 A typical defense lasts about an hour (or slightly longer), though technology set-up and removal, as well as the committee’s post-defense deliberations, will add to that time, so students should reserve the defense room for 90 minutes.  Students defending should allow for set-up time so that a defense begins promptly, and to have a back-up plan to mitigate technology failures. (NB: Technology is not a required component of a CHC thesis defense).

The presentation of a Clark Honors College thesis is a formal presentation, akin to a presentation of a conference paper or other formal professional presentations. The defender gives an overview of the thesis for no more than 20 minutes that summarizes the thesis and its findings or results. The presentation both distills the thesis for an audience who hasn't read it and engages a committee who has already read the text of the thesis. The formal presentation identifies a thesis's most important parts—analysis, arguments or creative components, and conclusions—and "teaches" them to the audience. Meeting this challenge indicates true mastery of the project. 

The subsequent question and answer period usually takes between 20 and 30 minutes, and questions often move to a conversation about the ramifications of the project.  The primary advisor usually takes the lead on questioning.  The audience will be invited to ask questions, at the committee's discretion and in light of time constraints. 

At the end of the Q&A, the committee remains in the room to deliberate the thesis's completion—all others leave, but remain close by to await the committee's decision.  The student will be invited back into the room for the primary advisor's announcement of the committee's decision.  The committee will provide information on any necessary revisions, which the primary advisor will detail for the student either at that moment or in a subsequent appointment. 

Other than the committee's required attendance, students may invite guests to their defense.  Friends, family, and other students may attend a defense. Both the size of the audience and the provision of refreshment are at the student's choice (and the latter at their expense), although the size will depend on space and building limitations. Thesis defenses are public, and anyone may attend, including students preparing for their own defenses.  As a matter of courtesy, however, the Clark Honors College asks any student planning to attend a defense, whom the defender has not invited to the defense, to contact the defender and ask permission—and to honor, please, the defender's wishes.

After defending, the student produces and submits an absolutely final electronic version of the thesis. The special formatting requirements and deadlines are detailed in Post-Defense and Final Submission of the Thesis

Thesis Evaluation

After a thesis defense, Clark Honors College thesis committee members evaluate the quality of the overall thesis project. The evaluations are 

  • Completed 
  • Decision Withheld, pending revisions (time limit should be set for completion of revisions) 
  • Not Completed 

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 an advisor, committee members, and CHC staff members 
  • Relevance and Originality of Research Questions and Topic: ability to conceive of a research topic that is highly relevant within the discipline and for society more broadly; poses a research problem that exhibits critical analysis and interpretation; asks relevant research questions that build on four years of study within a specific major and within a particular research area 
  • Research Quality and Mastery: demonstrates adequate research skills and practices to thoroughly and effectively investigate a research topic using standards of the major discipline; shows mastery of the relevant content, data, secondary literature, and research material; logically and clearly articulates the research questions, thesis arguments, and conclusions; shows mastery of information related to the particular research topic, field, and discipline; 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 one’s intellectual peers; ability to organize a large document with sophisticated ideas in a clear, well-organized, structured, accessible way; the writing adheres to discipline-specific styles while also speaking across disciplines and audiences; clear and concise writing that is free of errors and uses correct citation style for the discipline 
  • Oral Defense Quality: gives a well-organized, engaging, and polished presentation with information that is accurate and compelling; ability to communicate orally one’s research questions, arguments, results, and broader conclusions; ability to convey complex and difficult concepts clearly to both specialists and a broad audience; demonstrates capacity to think on one's feet and respond effectively to questions from the thesis committee and audience

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

 

Post Defense and Final Submission of the Thesis

Topics covered in this section: 

  • Process for submitting the final version of the thesis 
  • Archiving the thesis in the CHC and on Scholars’ Bank

Quick Links

At this stage, students should already be following the required format for the thesis, found in Preparing the Thesis Document

Final Submission of the Thesis

Final thesis submissions are due by noon on the Thursday of week 10 of the term in which you defend your thesis. The thesis must be formatted in accordance with the standards discussed in Preparing the Thesis Document 

TO COMPLETE THE THESIS PROCESS, SUBMIT THE FOLLOWING: 

  • The Final thesis  (in MS Word, or other preapproved format) using the CHC Thesis Post-Defense Form. This is a two-part form. You will start by filling out a Qualtrics questionnaire and upload your thesis document. You will then be automatically redirected to a form, where you will enter basic thesis information and request a final signature from your Primary Thesis Advisor. The Academic & Thesis Programs Manager will review your Final Thesis one last time, and submit all approved theses to the UO Libraries Scholars' Bank by the end of the term.
  • UO Libraries Scholars’ Bank Contribution Form. Complete this online Qualtrics Form, but do not submit the Final Thesis.  If you have questions regarding the form, please contact the Scholars’ Bank Manager to make arrangements at scholars@uoregon.edu. Your Final Thesis will be submitted to the Scholars’ Bank by the Clark Honors College after completion of the thesis process and final approval of your Final Thesis. If you have multimedia files, or any other files besides your Final Thesis, please include them in your email attachment to me at mjordan@uoregon.edu. (see additional information on Scholars’ Bank below).

Archiving Your Thesis in the CHC and on Scholars’ Bank

If you would like your final thesis to be housed electronically in Scholars' Bankcomplete the Qualtrics form to upload your thesis to the UO Libraries Scholars’ Bank. Scholars' Bank is an open-access digital archive with the mission to preserve and disseminate the intellectual output of University of Oregon faculty, staff, and students. Once your thesis has been archived, you will have a permanent URL to cite and share your work.

The default license for Scholars' Bank is Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND. To choose a different licensing option see this page: How should I choose this?   If you have questions about licensing please contact: Jeffrey Staiger, CHC Liaison librarian or Catherine Flynn-Purvis, Scholars' Bank Manager.

The United States' government copyright office website can help students understand the process for copyrighting a thesis.  Please note: students don't have to register the copyright in the work in order to have it copyrighted. As of 1978, copyright "subsists" in a work the moment it is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. In the case of a thesis, that means from the point that a student types it up. However, there are two main reasons that authors still register the copyright in their work:

  • If at a later point one finds that copyright has been infringed, the work has to be registered before a suit can be brought, and registration of copyright allows one to file suit for additional damages. 
  • Many people like to register their work to have the paperwork and documentation for their own purposes. Fortunately, the copyright office now offers an electronic filing option, which is much cheaper than the traditional paper version. 

If you opt out of the Scholars’ Bank submission process when you graduate but later decide to deposit your thesis in Scholars’ Bank, you will need to contact the library directly at scholars@uoregon.edu.  For further information about copyrighting your thesis, or questions about this process, contact Catherine A. Flynn-Purvis (cflynn@uoregon.edu), Institutional Repository Program Manager, UO Libraries.

 

CHC Thesis FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions: 

  • Do I need to have scheduled my thesis defense to apply for graduation? 
  • Do I need to be enrolled in credits when I defend my thesis? 
  • Can I graduate from CHC/UO before I defend my thesis?
  • May I defend my thesis during summer term? 
  • Will my CHC thesis fulfill departmental honors requirements?
  • Can I study abroad and still complete a thesis? 

Have a question that is not answered below? Contact your CHC faculty advisor.

Do I need to have scheduled my thesis defense to apply for graduation?

Students do not need to have scheduled their thesis defense to apply to graduate. Students can apply to graduate any time beginning four terms prior to the graduation term. The online application is available on DuckWeb. 

Ideally, students should apply during the first few weeks of the term prior to their graduation term. This permits timely updating of degree guides, allowing students to plan or change their final term course schedule to ensure completion of all graduation requirements.

The absolute deadline to apply for graduation on DuckWeb is Sunday at midnight after the fourth week of classes of a student’s expected graduation term. After that, DuckWeb will no longer allow students to apply for graduation online. Students then must visit the Office of the Registrar and file a late petition. Need more info?  See http://registrar.uoregon.edu/current_students/applying_for_graduation.

Do I need to be enrolled in credits when I defend my thesis?

No, the thesis defense is a requirement but it is not credit-bearing. Therefore, students do not need to be enrolled in credits or pay any university fees in the term they defend their thesis. If it has been more than a year since a student last took classes, they may need to reactivate their student account.

Can I graduate from CHC/UO before I defend my thesis?

No. the CHC is not a separate entity from the University of Oregon, and because Honors College requirements (including the thesis) are the core education requirements for your UO degree, students cannot graduate until they have completed the thesis defense. However, there’s a lot of flexibility with regards to when a student completes the thesis defense. It’s not at all uncommon for a student’s thesis defense to take place a term or two after the term in which they have finished all their undergraduate coursework. Students in this situation are allowed to participate in all UO and CHC Commencement activities for a given year even if they have applied to graduate in the summer or fall terms of that calendar year (just remember that walking in the commencement ceremony doesn’t necessarily mean that one has completed their degree at the time of the ceremony). 

May I defend my thesis during summer term?

Because university faculty have nine-month contracts and are not contractually bound to the university during the summer months, they are under no obligation to serve on summer defense committees. Students should expect that faculty will not be available for summer defenses and should make every effort to reschedule spring defenses that have been postponed to the subsequent fall term. Postponing until fall should create no financial hardship for students, since they do not need to be registered for classes in order to defend postponed theses. If all course obligations have been met and students are not enrolled for classes, they pay no tuition or fees. The same is true for students who postpone their thesis defenses to fall term or later (provided they have no coursework left to complete).

In the rare case that the student’s committee agrees to a summer defense, students must make a formal appeal. Email a detailed explanation to the Clark Honors College Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Daphne Gallagher (daphne@uoregon.edu), and copy the CHC Advisor and/or the CHC Thesis Representative, and the Academic and Thesis Programs Manager, Miriam Jordan (mjordan@uoregon.edu). Include written evidence—ideally emails—that verify the agreement of both the primary thesis advisor and second reader to attend a summer thesis defense. Contact the Associate Dean with any questions. 

Will my CHC thesis fulfill departmental honors requirements?

Many departments also have an honors thesis program. Writing an Honors College thesis is not connected to getting honors in the major—they are two very distinct processes. However, if the department allows, it is possible to use the same research project to meet both goals. Similarly, schools such as Architecture and Journalism require a senior project to graduate—the CHC thesis often combines this senior project with an additional critical essay on the project.

If a student wants their thesis to serve for departmental honors, they need to plan ahead to design a project to make that happen, one that will fulfill both sets of requirements. Find out how the honors thesis process works in the major—look at departmental websites and talk to potential primary thesis advisors. Departments that allow dual-purpose theses will usually accept a joint defense.

Please visit the department’s honors program website for more information.

Can I study abroad and still complete a thesis?

Study abroad requires planning. We advise students to begin thinking about potential links between studying abroad and the thesis project well before departing the United States.  It's especially important for students who plan to spend the entire junior year abroad to acquaint themselves, as sophomores, with their major department’s/school's website, researching faculty interests, and taking smaller upper-division specialty classes with those faculty members. Taking such classes helps students get to know potential primary thesis advisors in the major—this is good advice for all CHC students, regardless of their intent to study abroad or not. 

Students should introduce themselves to potential advisors before they leave, to make email follow-up proceed more smoothly, and keep the thesis alive in their mind as you live abroad. Are you having experiences or identifying issues that you might like to investigate for your thesis?  If something in the country really captures a student's attention, it can be worthwhile to collect items or do local research that might be useful later.  For instance, if there was a lesser-known writer that a student was really interested in and whose work could conceivably be a thesis topic, it might be easier to buy their books locally than in the US. If one was interested in some sort of cultural topic related to the country, then taking lots of photos or attending events (movies, protests, etc.) could help enrich an academic discussion of it.

Keep in mind that if one intends to carry out human subjects research while abroad (e.g. conducting interviews or surveys), students must obtain IRB approval (or confirm that their research project does not require IRB approval) before they begin their data collection. It may be easier to obtain IRB approval before traveling. See more information on Human Subjects Research in the guidance on Researching and Writing Your Thesis.