Information for Thesis Advisors

Welcome, and thank you for choosing to work with our talented undergraduates.

If you are advising a Departmental Honors thesis and have questions, your main point of contact will be your department's Honors Council representative. If you are advising a General Honors thesis, you should contact the General Honors faculty member on the committee for information and assistance.

You should also be familiar with our Graduation with Honors FAQ.

Am I qualified to be an honors thesis advisor?

To be a thesis advisor or serve on a thesis committee you 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. Anyone who does not fit one of these roles has to be approved by the Honors Program.

What is the role of the thesis advisor?

Your role as the honors thesis advisor is very much like a graduate thesis advisor. The presumption is that your scholarship or your interest will be close to the student’s topic. Of equal importance is your willingness and ability to meet with the student on a regular basis. The most common factor in a failed thesis attempt is a breakdown in communication between the advisor and the student.

How is the defense scheduled and conducted?

The defense must be held by the Honors Program's deadline, and the format is similar to a graduate thesis defense. A defense typically takes about an hour. Scheduling a time and place is the student’s responsibility. In addition, many departments require that the student supply the committee with an unofficial copy of their transcript.

There is one area where the honors thesis defense diverges from the defense of a graduate thesis. Whereas graduate students are typically told whether they passed or failed following their defense, this is not the case for the honors thesis. The student MUST NOT be told what the committee recommendation will be.

After the defense, the committee will complete the thesis defense form and decide who on the committee will write the required narrative. The narrative is a letter of recommendation addressed to the Honors Council and written on behalf of the entire examining committee. The narrative must include the following:

  • when, where and who conducted the defense, with the thesis advisor specified;
  • a clear statement of the recommendation as well as the vote (if the vote is unanimous, please state that explicitly; if the vote is not unanimous, a clear indication of the split must be provided);
  • a rationale for the recommendation. This should include a statement regarding the cumulative and major GPA and the quality of the thesis as well as the quality of the defense.
The defense form and narrative must be delivered directly to the Honors Program Office or scanned and emailed to Please do not use campus mail.

And of course, thesis advisors and other committee members are welcome at the Honors Convocation.

Thanks again for your commitment to our undergraduate students!