Latin honors and eligibility
To graduate with honors, you should be a College of Arts and Sciences undergraduate student working toward a bachelor's degree at CU Boulder and meet your department's eligibility requirements. Students typically begin working on an honors thesis project in the junior year and defend their thesis in the senior year.
- Departmental Honors: Students pursuing Departmental Honors must write a thesis within a major they have declared. Students may not write a thesis in a minor.
- General Honors: for General Honors projects (interdisciplinary research) you must fulfill the Honors Program's eligibility criteria.
- Second Bachelor's Degree: If you are classified as an Arts and Sciences undergraduate in our system, you are eligible to participate in the thesis process. If you have already earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado Boulder or any other institution and are not sure of your classification, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for eligibility approval before beginning the honors project.
- BA/MA and BAM: Students on a BA/MA or BAM degree plan must complete all honors requirements, including the thesis defense, during the BA portion of their program. Latin honors will be affixed to the BA portion of the degree when the BA/MA is awarded.
- Distributed Studies: Students pursuing a Distributed Studies degree may choose to do a General Honors thesis project or select an appropriate topic in one of their participating departments (contingent on departmental approval). The honors designation would be attached to the Distributed Studies degree.
Students who have majors outside of the College of Arts and Sciences should contact their own school or college about any honors options available. If your school or college doesn't currently have an honors option, we encourage you to ask them to provide one!
Not within the College of Arts and Sciences. You may be able to graduate with Distinction which, unlike Latin honors, is entirely based on GPA. Students who are graduating with Distinction receive an email notification from the Dean's Office during the last month of the semester.
Earning honors is not guaranteed. The writing of a thesis is a serious undertaking, and in every case the thesis must be of very high quality to warrant honors.
There are GPA requirements, but grades are only one part of the equation:
• A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3 qualifies a student to be considered for honors, cum laude
• A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 qualifies a student to be considered for honors, magna cum laude
• A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.8 qualifies a student to be considered for honors, summa cum laude
While these guidelines qualify a student for consideration for a given level of honors, any honors earned are also based on the quality of the thesis and thesis defense. Depending on the quality of the thesis and thesis defense, a defense committee may recommend an honors designation other than what the guidelines suggest.
You can graduate in the summer, but you would need to complete your thesis and defend by the applicable deadlines in the spring semester prior to the summer. The Honors Council meets twice a year (November and April) to consider students for Latin honors; you must have completed your project and your defense prior to their meetings to be considered for Latin honors in a given semester.
Let us know! No matter where you are in the process, please tell us if you've decided not to defend your thesis, or if you're considering deferring. There are no penalties if you choose to defer or not to defend your thesis. If you are receiving credit for a thesis-related course via your major department, please contact the instructor/advisor for your options in that class.
To withdraw from the thesis process, please notify your committee members and email email@example.com to let us know.
Deferring your thesis defense to a future semester:
Please know that if you need more time, you can defer graduation to a future semester in order to work on your thesis. Please check with your department's Honors Council Representative for approval and see your regular advisor to make sure all requirements will be met for graduation. You can then change your graduation to a future term via the Buff Portal. Latin honors can only be awarded to undergraduates, so deferring your graduation is a key step. Make sure that all members of your thesis committee are aware of the deferral, and confirm they are available to continue their participation on your committee with the new defense deadline. If they are not, and you need to make changes to your committee, be sure to notify the Honors Program so we can update your registration. The Honors Council meets twice a year (April and November) to vote on and finalize Latin honors designations. While you are welcome to defend at any time during the year, you need to make sure that you're defending by the deadline associated with the semester you plan to graduate (or earlier). For example, if you plan to graduate in the summer, you will need to have defended your thesis by the deadlines applicable to the spring semester prior to that summer.
Please also be aware that you do not have to be enrolled in classes during the semester that you defend. This is a great option if you've completed all requirements for graduation and just need more time to complete your project. If you would like access to certain university benefits during the semester in which you are not enrolled in classes (such as student health insurance, an EcoPass, the ability to check out books from the library, etc.), you will need to complete the LOA Optional Benefits Application on the Office of the Registrar's website and pay your student fees. You may also need to check with Financial Aid to make sure that your enrollment status does not affect any student loans or other financial aid you receive.
Please notify the Honors Program office of your plans to defer or withdraw by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you'd like more details on the deferral process or want to talk through your options, we'd love to chat with you! Please visit our Contact Us page for our office hours and your options to reach us.
If you are enrolled part-time, you are still eligible to participate in the thesis process as long as you're classified as an undergraduate.
Please also be aware that you do not have to be enrolled in any classes during the semester that you defend. This is a great option if you've completed all requirements for graduation and just need more time to complete your project. If you would like access to certain university benefits during the semester in which you are not enrolled in classes (such as student health insurance, an EcoPass, the ability to check out books from the library, etc.), you will need to complete the LOA Optional Benefits Application on the Office of the Registrar's website and pay your student fees. You may also need to check with Financial Aid to make sure that your enrollment status does not affect any student loans or other financial aid you receive.
Please notify the Honors Program office of any plans to defer by emailing email@example.com. If you'd like more details on the deferral process or want to talk through your options, we'd love to chat with you! Please visit our Contact Us page for our office hours and your options to reach us.
Latin honors are included on the diploma and will also appear with the graduation data in the Degrees, Certificates and Licensure section of the transcript (only available after degrees are posted).
You will need to register online with the Honors Program the semester prior to the semester in which you plan to defend your thesis. For example, if you plan to defend your thesis in April (spring semester), you would register your project online the previous October (the prior fall semester). Some departments have an internal application process; please note that you will also need to register through the Honors Program in addition to their internal application. Please make sure you follow the deadline requirements for both the Honors Program registration and any internal departmental application.
Your project does not need to be at a certain level of completion in order to register. You cannot register your project the same semester in which you plan to defend; the deadline for defending your thesis in a certain semester is always the semester prior (please check the appropriate thesis deadline form for the exact date). In order to register, you need a prospectus, outline of your timeline, initial bibliography, and three committee members (please read the eligibility requirements for committee members at the bottom of the Honors Thesis page or the FAQ titled "What are the eligibility requirements for committee members?" on this page ).
Once your online registration is submitted, you are allowed to make changes to your committee, project, timeline, and bibliography, so don't miss the deadline if things aren't perfect. Just be sure to notify the Honors Program of any committee changes, and any significant changes to your prospectus.
Each discipline has its own standards - what's important is the content, not the length. For more guidance on typical theses in your major, please reach out to your Honors Council Representative for more details.
No. Students who have multiple majors in the College of Arts and Sciences can choose to write a thesis in each major in order to graduate with honors in each discipline, but each thesis must be an original creative scholarly work written by you. No matter how many theses you write, you must have defended them and been awarded honors before you graduate.
Students on a BA/MA or BAM degree plan must complete all honors requirements, including the thesis defense, during the BA portion of their program. Latin honors will be affixed to the BA portion of the degree when the BA/MA is awarded.
The Scholarly Communications page on the Libraries' website is a good place to start. They also point to the Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University, where there are a number of tools that can help you navigate what is and is not fair use. You can also visit the American Library Association Fair Use Evaluator.
For changes to your title, you do not need to notify the Honors Program. For changes to your topic, if they are minor tweaks, you do not need to notify us. If you change your topic significantly, we will need a new prospectus and a new initial bibliography. If you have questions, as always, let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
You are welcome to make changes to your committee as needed. Please be sure to notify the Honors Program of any changes to your committee by emailing email@example.com. Your new committee member's eligibility will then be verified and your registration will be updated.
There are several things you can do from a logistics perspective to ensure that your thesis project goes smoothly and that you have all the information you need to succeed:
- Register online by the deadline. The Honors Program will typically confirm your registration by email within 3-6 weeks of the registration deadline and send you the appropriate thesis deadlines document for the semester you're defending. Please review this document carefully for important dates and deadlines. Some departments have an internal registration process; in those cases, you will also need to register through the Honors Program's online form. Please be sure to do so by the applicable deadline.
- Add firstname.lastname@example.org to your email address book so that correspondence from us does not go to your spam folder. All corespondence with the Honors Program must be through your @colorado.edu address, not your personal email account.
- Keep an eye on your @colorado.edu email throughout the year. We will email you at least three times throughout the process to verify information, remind you of deadlines, and notify you of your Latin honors designation once you've completed your defense and the Honors Council has met. If you've defended successfully, we'll also contact you regarding the Convocation ceremony. It is crucial that you read (and respond to as appropriate) all emails from email@example.com in a timely manner.
- Be aware that it is your responsibility to schedule your defense date and time, and reserve a room to hold it in. Please reach out to your Honors Council Representative for assistance in reserving a room near your major department. If you have difficulties in reserving a room and your Honors Council Representative has not been able to assist you, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will guide you towards helpful resources. You do not need to notify the Honors Program office of your defense date/time or location.
- Understand the difference between the defense copy and the final copy, and when each is due. Your defense copy is the one that you hand out at your defense. Your final copy is the one where you've made any modifications after your defense. Do not modify your defense copy before emailing the PDF to the Honors Program. The defense copy is the one that will be considered for Latin honors, and the final copy will be available on the CU Scholar repository.
- The title page of your paper must include the following: 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). The title page on your final copy must be exactly the same as your defense copy. If you have questions about any of these pieces, please don't hesitate to ask.
These are the most common issues that come up for students. If there's anything you have questions about, or if you need clarification, please contact us; we are happy to help. You can stop by the Honors Program office in Norlin M400M, call us at 303-492-6617, or email us at email@example.com. We are also happy to arrange a meeting over Zoom or Teams. We are here to support you, and appreciate your diligence and hard work!
The defense copy is the version of your thesis you defend in front of your committee. This is the version that will be considered for Latin honors, so make sure your defense copy is a complete and final representation of your project.
Because the Honors Program coordinates Latin honors for so many departments and programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, we do not set formatting requirements for your thesis, with the exception of the title page. We know that theses from Theatre, Biochemistry, History, Physics or Anthropology will probably all look very different, so 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.
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). If you submit a defense copy with a title that is in all caps, please include a regular upper-and-lower case version of your title in the email when you send us a copy.
If you have a non-voting member on your committee, you are not required to list them on the title page (all committee members must be approved by the Honors Program, regardless of whether they are voting members or not). If you choose to list a non-voting member, you must list them with "(ex-officio)" next to their name.
Submitting your defense copy:
Your defense copy should be saved in PDF format and the filename should use the format “Lastname Firstname Defense Copy.pdf”. Once you've defended, email the PDF version of your defense to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you defend prior to the last day, you should send in your defense copy as soon as you defend. If you defend on the last day (please see the appropriate Thesis Deadlines document for dates), you can defend as late as you and your committee wish, but you must send a copy of your defense to email@example.com by 11:59pm. If you submit a defense copy with a title that is in all caps, please include a regular upper-and-lower case version of your title in the body of the email when you send it to us.
As a reminder, your defense copy is the one you submit to your committee members on the day you defend. Do not modify your defense copy after your defense. This is the copy that is used to determine Latin honors and it cannot be modified once your defense is complete.
Uploading your final copy:
If your committee suggests changes to your paper during your defense, you will have the opportunity to make those changes if you wish and submit the updated version to CU Scholar as your final copy. Do not modify the title page on your final copy - that page must be exactly the same as your defense copy's title page - but you are welcome to make any other changes you wish before uploading it to CU Scholar. Click here for instructions on how to upload your paper, including instructions to place an embargo, which controls when your paper is released to the public. If you are submitting your paper for publication elsewhere, you will likely want to set an embargo. To modify an embargo date after your paper is uploaded, email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Thesis Advisors and Committees
When you're thinking about thesis advisors, make sure that anyone you ask to advise your thesis (or serve in another role on your committee) is 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, Teaching Associate Professor (Senior Instructor) or Teaching Assistant Professor (Instructor). Additionally, faculty must hold a terminal degree in their field (usually a Ph.D.). Graduate students are not allowed to serve on thesis committees.
There are three positive signs that a professor might make a good thesis advisor for you: They are well-versed in the particular field of study you wish to investigate, you’ve taken or are taking a class or lab with them and are doing well, and you like them as a person and would be excited to work with them. You will be working closely with them throughout the project, so a good working relationship is very beneficial.
When you meet with prospective thesis advisors, don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Be direct - ask how often they'd be willing to meet with you, how many drafts they'd be able to read and critique, and what kinds of expectations they would have of you. They will probably also have questions for you about why you'd like to write a thesis, what you hope to get from the process, and why you'd like to work with them.
If you're having trouble finding a thesis advisor, talk to your Honors Council representative.
Your thesis advisor should help you find focus for your thesis and encourage your efforts.
Work with them to make sure that you are staying focused on your topic, to strengthen weak areas of your thesis, and for general advice. Are you writing this thesis to publish your research, refine your skills, demonstrate your knowledge of a particular subject, or to more deeply study a topic or concept? Let them know right from the start. They should be able to help you define your goals in writing an honors thesis and then support you in achieving those goals.
Make sure you stay in regular contact your thesis advisor (and the rest of your committee) - the most common factor in a failed thesis attempt is a breakdown in communication between a student and their committee.
You must have at least three faculty members from the University of Colorado Boulder on your committee:
- Your thesis advisor
- An Honors Council representative
- A professor from outside your department
After you meet these requirements, you can have any additional members you want as long as they are eligible to serve.
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, Teaching Associate Professor (Senior Instructor) or Teaching Assistant Professor (Instructor). Additionally, faculty must hold a terminal degree in their field (usually a Ph.D.). Graduate students are not allowed to serve on thesis committees.
If you're not sure whether someone is eligible, email email@example.com with the name and department of the individual, and we will check eligibility for you.
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, Teaching Associate Professor (Senior Instructor) or Teaching Assistant Professor (Instructor). Additionally, faculty must hold a terminal degree in their field (usually a Ph.D.). Graduate students are not eligible to serve.
Thesis committees are typically composed of a thesis advisor from the student's major department, an Honors Council Representative from the student's major department, and a third committee member from outside the major department in which the student is writing their thesis (Outside Reader). From an Honors Program perspective, faculty members can serve in multiple roles (for example, your Honors Council Representative can also be your Thesis Advisor), but you will still need to have 3 faculty members total on your committee. Some departments have additional restrictions on this; please check with your Honors Council Representative for any applicable departmental policies.
The primary role of an Outside Reader is to make sure that your thesis is held to the same high standards as theses in other departments. So, the faculty member you choose as your Outside Reader needs to be from outside your major department. This way they can provide that checks-and-balances piece of the puzzle so that we can confidently say that a Sociology thesis is held to the same standard as a Physics thesis, and Ethnic Studies, and Economics and so on.
At a minimum, the faculty member should be prepared to read and provide feedback on later drafts of your thesis and attend the defense. However, if the Outside Reader's field of study touches on your topic or needs, they may be able to provide more support. For example, if you feel that you could use some extra help in your writing, you could look for an Outside Reader from the Program for Writing and Rhetoric. Or, if you were an Art major working on a project analyzing historic art pieces, it might be beneficial to ask a faculty member from the history department who specializes in the period of history you're studying to serve as your Outside Reader.
Please remember to make sure the faculty member you're considering meets the eligibility requirements. As a reminder, here are those requirements:
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, Teaching Associate Professor (Senior Instructor) or Teaching Assistant Professor (Instructor). Additionally, faculty must hold a terminal degree in their field (usually a Ph.D.). Graduate students are not eligible to serve.