Graduation with Latin honors

Through the Honors Program, College of Arts and Sciences undergraduates can write and defend an honors thesis in order to graduate with Latin honors: cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude.

Students typically begin working on an honors thesis project in the junior year and defend their thesis in the senior year. Our thesis process is one of the most rigorous in the nation, which means that students who graduate with honors - between four to seven percent of each graduating class - have successfully gone above and beyond their peers not only at CU Boulder but nationwide.

To see recent honors theses, visit the Undergraduate Honors Theses Repository on CU Scholar. Theses submitted prior to 2012 are located in the University Archives.

Visit our FAQ for specifics regarding eligibility, committee requirements, and other topics.

Departmental Honors

Would you like to write an honors thesis in your College of Arts and Sciences major? You'll start the process by contacting your department.
Learn your department's requirements.

General Honors

Is your Arts and Sciences thesis idea interdisciplinary? Have you taken Honors Program courses? Consider General Honors.
Read the General Honors requirements.

Registration and Deadlines

Our registration form is not an application; when your Honors Council representative signs your form, that means your thesis project is approved. We also require a prospectus, planned timeline of your work, and a preliminary bibliography containing a few initial sources. The formats of these are set by your department.

Registration paperwork must be turned in on time to the Honors Program Office in Norlin Library M400M. The Honors Program does not accept late registrations.

Fall 2016 Registration and Deadlines. This registration period closed on May 2, 2016.

Spring 2017 Registration and Deadlines. This registration period closes on October 3, 2016.

Important note on thesis committees: All thesis committees require a minimum of three members of the CU-Boulder faculty. To be a thesis advisor or serve on a thesis committee one must be a regular full-time faculty member or a multi-year contract instructor at the University of Colorado Boulder. In terms of rank, this means Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Senior Instructor, or Instructor.

Research and Writing

If you have questions that aren't answered in our Graduation with Honors FAQ, that's probably because those answers are specific to your field. Contact your thesis advisor or Honors Council representative. Make sure you stay in regular contact with your committee members - the most common factor in a failed thesis attempt is a breakdown in communication between a student and their committee.

The Thesis Defense

Because we work with over 40 departments within the College of Arts and Sciences, we can't give specifics on how your department prefers to conduct defenses. Talk to your Honors Council representative or thesis advisor for more information on your responsibilities at the defense. Committees all look for different things in defenses, but they often want to see your ability to make connections between your thesis and situations posed by committee members, how thoroughly you understand and are comfortable with your topic, and that you take your subject seriously and can demonstrate that you've learned something along the way.

A few notes on thesis defenses:

  • Don't wait too long to schedule your defense. You and your committee are all busy people who will get busier as the semester goes on.
  • You don't need to tell us when you're defending - that's between you and your committee.
  • If possible, don't schedule your defense on the very last day to defend. Colorado's weather can be unpredictable in April and November.
  • Bring a current copy of your unofficial transcript to your defense.
  • The last day to defend is the same day your printed defense copy should be turned in. You can defend and/or turn in your defense copy anytime before the last day to defend.
  • Any level of honors your committee recommends will be based off of the thesis you defend before your committee. Your committee may suggest small changes or corrections to your defense copy, which you can make for the final copy. The later you schedule your defense, the less time you will have to make those changes.
  • If you decide not to defend your thesis, or want to defer your defense to another semester, let us know. There are no penalties, and you'll get fewer emails from us.

The Defense Copy

Bring your printed and unbound defense copy to the Honors Program Office by our defense copy deadline. Make sure your title page meets our requirements.

The Final Copy

Upload the final copy of your thesis to CU Scholar by our final copy deadline.

Latin Honors Designations

The Honors Council, a body of faculty within the College of Arts and Sciences, meets in April and November to officially award honors designations.

The Honors Convocation

If you successfully complete the thesis process and earn Latin honors, you will be awarded an honors medal and recognition certificate at the Honors Convocation.