Graduation with Latin honors

The Honors Program, in coordination with departments within the College of Arts and Sciences, gives qualified undergraduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences the opportunity to write and defend an honors thesis in an attempt to graduate with Latin honors: cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude. Most students undertake a thesis project within their major (Departmental Honors), but the Honors Program offers an interdisciplinary option (General Honors).

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. Students who successfully complete the thesis process and are awarded Latin honors by the Honors Council are recognized at the Honors Convocation.

For answers to commonly asked questions, read our FAQ.

Departmental Honors

Interested in writing a 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

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

Registration and Deadlines

After you've contacted your department to begin your project, you will register it with our office. We do not accept late registrations.

Registration requires our one-page form as well as a prospectus, planned timeline of your work, and a preliminary bibliography containing some initial sources. The formats of these are set by your department.

Our registration form is not an application; your Honors Council representative's signature is the approval for your project. We will not contact you regarding your registration form.

Fall 2017 Registration and Deadlines. This registration period closed on May 3, 2017.

Spring 2018 Registration and Deadlines. This registration period closes on October 3, 2017.

Thesis Committee Policy
Thesis committees require at least three members of the CU Boulder faculty. To be eligible to serve on a thesis committee one must be a regular full-time faculty member or a multi-year contract instructor involved in an instructional program at the University of Colorado Boulder. In terms of rank, this means Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Senior Instructor, or Instructor. Graduate students are not eligible to serve on thesis committees.

Looking for members of the CU Boulder faculty whose research is related to your thesis idea? Visit experts.colorado.edu.

The Thesis Defense

Because we work with over 40 departments within the College of Arts and Sciences, your Honors Council representative is the best source of information when it comes to your defense. That said, we have some notes:

  • You don't need to tell us when you're defending - that's between you and your committee.
  • Bring a current copy of your unofficial transcript to your defense.
  • Don't wait too long to schedule your defense, and try not to schedule your defense on the very last day to defend.
  • If you decide not to defend your thesis, or want to defer your defense to another semester, please 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.

Title Page Requirements
Title pages must include the thesis title, your name, your defense date, your thesis advisor's name and department, your Honors Council representative's name and department, and the names and departments of your other committee member(s).

Because the Honors Program coordinates Latin honors for so many departments and programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, we do not set thesis format requirements; we know that theses from Theatre, Biochemistry, History, Physics or Anthropology will probably look very different. Students should use the style manual or guide appropriate to their discipline. If you don't know the style guide your discipline uses, ask your Honors Council representative. You can also look at the Undergraduate Honors Theses repository on CU Scholar for examples.

The Final Copy

Upload the final copy of your thesis to the Undergraduate Honors Theses Repository on CU Scholar by our final copy deadline.

Latin Honors Designations

The Honors Council, a body of faculty within the College of Arts and Sciences, convenes for a two-day period in both April and November to confer honors designations. On the first day, theses and honors recommendations are discussed by a subcommittee of the Honors Council for the student's division (Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and General Honors). The second day involves further discussion, this time by the entire Honors Council, who then officially award honors. Honors designations are later distributed to students via email. Any honors designations earned appear on a student's transcript and diploma. Please note that Latin honors are separate from Distinction.

The Honors Convocation

Green, red, and purple honors medals on display.

Students who earn Latin honors through our program are given an honors medal at the Honors Convocation.

Students who successfully complete the thesis process and earn Latin honors are recognized at the Honors Convocation.