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 having earned Latin honors: cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude.

The Thesis Process

1. We recommend that thesis students be CU-Boulder juniors who have a topic or idea to explore.

First, make sure you meet our qualifications.

The most important initial step toward writing a thesis is coming up with a 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.

To see what a completed thesis looks like, visit the honors thesis repository on CU Scholar.

2a. Students in the College of Arts and Sciences who wish to pursue honors in their major should contact their department.

Writing a thesis within a major - Departmental Honors - is the type of Latin honors over 95% of students choose to pursue. As your department will provide you the bulk of the support through this process, and in many cases will require you to take thesis-related courses and fulfill other requirements, it is critical that you communicate with them if you are interested in writing an honors thesis in your major.

2b. Students in the College of Arts and Sciences who wish to write an interdisciplinary thesis OR students from any other school or college at CU-Boulder can pursue General Honors.

General Honors is for thesis projects that fit into one of two categories:

  1. an interdisciplinary thesis project which cannot be contained within one single major offered by the College of Arts and Sciences.
  2. any thesis written by a student from a CU-Boulder college or school other than the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Within these categories, students are expected to produce an original piece of creative or scholarly work.

General Honors Requirements and Policies

3. Download and complete the Honors Program registration paperwork.

Please make sure to include the 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? Many disciplines require that a prospectus or abstract be around 150 words, but your department may differ. 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.

Spring 2015 Honors Thesis Registration and Deadlines

Fall 2015 deadlines will be posted in January.

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. Continue your research and writing.

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 speak with 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 also submit a printed defense 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 CU Scholar by the specified due date.

Once you've defended your thesis and made any corrections or adjustments your committee has asked for, you are free to upload the final copy of your thesis to CU Scholar.

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