The CHC Thesis Project

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.

DESIGN YOUR PROJECT

The CHC thesis project encourages you to explore ideas, build new skills, and develop mentoring and professional networks. 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. As part of the design phase of your project, you will learn how to get started in HC 277H Thesis Orientation. In HC 477H Thesis Prospectus, you will develop an initial project idea, form your thesis committee, and create a plan for completion.

Get Oriented: The HC 277H Thesis Orientation course (2 cr, P/N) provides a practical orientation to the thesis 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: Your thesis topic 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. While the topic and nature of your project are up to you, keep in mind that the thesis must build on your academic experiences in your major. If you wish to complete a thesis outside your major field of study, please contact the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies

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. They are typically a member of your major department or program or a member of a department in a closely allied field. 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.

If your primary thesis advisor is a member of the CHC core faculty, you will need to recruit a second committee member outside of the CHC who is appropriate to the project. In certain circumstances (such as simultaneous fulfillment of departmental honors requirements) you may decide to have an optional third committee member; the decision to add a third member will be made by your primary thesis advisor. If you are planning to use your thesis to complete departmental honors, make sure you review their committee requirements when forming your committee. Students participating in the 3+3 law program should consult with their CHC Faculty Advisor about committee requirements.

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. You should select a primary thesis advisor at least one year before you plan to defend. You must have a primary thesis advisor in order to register for HC 477H Thesis Prospectus. Your CHC Faculty Advisor can field questions about how to approach faculty members to serve on your committee, as well as address questions about the thesis process more generally. The CHC representative (who does not have to be your CHC Faculty Advisor) is typically added to the committee by the end of HC 477H Thesis Prospectus. CHC core faculty have a limit as to the number of thesis committees they can serve on each year. Here is a current list of CHC core faculty available to serve this academic year.

As soon as you have established your committee, you will need to register your committee members with the Honors College. As members join your committee, please notify Academic and Thesis Programs Manager Miriam Jordan using the form CHC Thesis Committee.

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. You will write a prospectus (i.e., a 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.

Most students take HC 477H in the Spring of their third year or Fall of their fourth year. It must be taken at least one term prior to your planned defense. In order to receive authorization to register for HC 477H, you must have a general project idea (one sentence description) and a primary thesis advisor. Request authorization by submitting the CHC Thesis Prospectus Form, which will be routed to your primary thesis advisor’s email for an electronic signature. Submit the form by the end of Week 6 to register for HC 477H during initial registration in Week 8. If there are seats available, you will be able to submit your paperwork and be authorized to register through the first week of the term of the course. 

Questions? See the Thesis-Related Coursework and Thesis Committee sections of the FAQ or ask your CHC Faculty Advisor.

IMPLEMENT 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 HC 477H and stay in dialogue with your primary thesis advisor as you refine your project. Many students choose to enroll in independent study credits or apply for funding to support their thesis project, although neither is required. Finally, 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. Your primary thesis advisor will be able to help you determine if you need such approval and provide guidance as you apply for it.

Take Independent Study Credits: You can't write a thesis in your spare time. Although you are not required to do so, you may want to enroll in independent study credits through your major 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. These research credits may be taken in a single term or spread out over multiple terms and are typically supervised by your primary thesis advisor.

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.

Keep Communicating: 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.

Questions? See the Thesis-Related Coursework, Research Approval, and Study Abroad sections of the FAQ or ask your CHC Faculty Advisor or CHC representative.

COMMUNICATE THE OUTCOMES

Communicating the results of your project to your committee, project stakeholders, and the public is a critical component of the CHC thesis process. In the term you defend, you will circulate your thesis 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 theses 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 thesis 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.

Defend 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 thesis 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 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. 

Questions? See Your Defense Term and the Thesis Document, Thesis Defense, and Final Submission and Graduation sections of the FAQ or ask your CHC representative.