Graduation with honors

Through the Honors Program, students nearing graduation can write and defend an honors thesis in order to graduate from the University of Colorado Boulder with Latin honors: cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude.

The Thesis Process

1. You should be a CU-Boulder junior or senior with a topic or idea to explore.

The first step toward writing a thesis is coming up with your topic. Once you have something in mind, narrow it down as much as possible. Having some specifics to focus on will help you clearly present your topic and goals when meeting with a prospective thesis advisor and other committee members.

2. Contact your department.

Students in the College of Arts and Sciences:

If you are writing a thesis within your major (Departmental Honors), your first point of contact must be your department. As your department will be supporting you through this process, and in many cases will require you to take thesis-related courses, it is critical that you communicate with them first. You must also read our Graduation with Honors FAQ.

Students in the College of Arts and Sciences who want to write a General Honors thesis - an interdisciplinary thesis that cannot fit within any one major - must have a CU-Boulder GPA of 3.5 or higher, have taken 12 credits of Honors Program coursework and meet with the Honors Program for project approval before turning in any registration paperwork. You must also read our Graduation with Honors FAQ.

Students in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, the College of Music, Journalism and Mass Communication or the Leeds School of Business:

Read our Graduation with Honors FAQ, which includes information pertinent to General Honors students from any discipline, then stop by our office to discuss the possibility of pursuing General Honors.

3. Download and complete the Honors Program registration paperwork.

Fall 2014 Honors Registration and Deadlines

Spring 2015 Honors Registration and Deadlines

Required attachments: We require a prospectus, bibliography and timeline so that we can see that you've given your topic and planned workload some thought.

  • A prospectus is a brief but detailed summary of your project that typically answers some or all of these questions: What are you investigating? What is the hypothesis you are testing? What is the focus of your study? What is your goal in this study? What might your results mean? If you've had to prepare something for your thesis advisor or a departmental honors seminar, we will happily take that as your prospectus (no more than 15 pages, please).
  • The bibliography should contain at least a few initial sources for your research.
  • Your timeline should include when you intend to complete primary research, dates that drafts will be completed and times that you can discuss these drafts with your advisor. Students tend to say that working backward from the thesis due date is the most helpful way to construct the timeline.

Deliver your completed registration paperwork and attachments to the Honors Program Office anytime before the deadline for your semester and keep the list of deadlines for your own reference.

The Registration to Graduate with Honors form is not an application; when your Honors Council representative signs your form, that means your department is supporting you and your project. You will not be contacted by the Honors Program regarding approval of your registration form.

4. At this point you should be ready to start/continue your research.

If you have questions about the thesis process that are not answered in our Graduation with Honors FAQ, that's likely because those questions are specific to your field. Please contact your thesis advisor or Honors Council representative first; if they cannot answer your question, feel free to get in touch with our office. 

5. Defend your thesis and submit the defense copy of your thesis to our office by the specified due date.

The defense copy is a printed and unbound version of the thesis your committee received before your defense. It is not your final copy. This is the version of the thesis that your committee will use to designate honors; the final copy may include changes resulting from the defense but changes will not bear on the level of honors earned.

In addition to submitting your thesis to your committee members, you must submit a copy to the Honors Program Office.

Make sure your title page meets all Honors Program requirements.

6. Submit the final copy of your thesis to the online thesis archive by the specified due date.

As of the Spring 2014 semester, the Honors Program no longer requires a printed and bound final copy.

Students will be told how to upload their thesis to the online thesis archive. Individual departments may still require printed and bound copies; students should check with their Honors Council representative for confirmation.

5. Once you have successfully written and defended your thesis, please join us at the Honors Convocation.