Latin honors and eligibility

Am I qualified to graduate with honors?

To graduate with honors, you should be a College of Arts and Sciences 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: Students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado Boulder or any other institution should contact honors@colorado.edu 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!

Can I graduate with Latin honors without writing a thesis?

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.

If I complete the thesis process, am I guaranteed to graduate with honors?

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.

What are the GPA requirements for graduating with a certain level of Latin 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.

Can I graduate with honors in the summer?

Yes, but you have to follow the thesis deadlines from the spring semester prior to your graduation in order to be awarded honors.

Can I get funding for my research?

We encourage all students writing honors theses to get in contact with the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

What do I do if I need to defer my thesis project or no longer want to defend my thesis?

Let us know! No matter where you are in the process, please tell us if you've decided to defer or not defend your thesis. There are no penalties if you choose not to defend your thesis; we understand that graduating students have a lot going on. 

You are welcome to call the Honors Program at 303-492-6617, stop by the office (located in Norlin room M400M) or email honors@colorado.edu.

Can I write a thesis if I'm not a full-time student?

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.

Additionally, if you have completed all requirements to graduate but you still need more time to work on your thesis before defending, you can defer your graduation a semester, not sign up for any classes, and take the time to work on your thesis.  If you choose to do this, please check with your Department's Honors Council Representative for approval and see your advisor to make sure all requirements have been met for graduation. You can change your graduation to a future term via the Buff Portal. Honors cannot be awarded after a student graduates, so please be sure you’ve deferred your graduation.  If you would like access to certain university benefits during the semester you are not registered, the LOA Optional Benefits Application is on the Office of the Registrar's website.  You should also check with the Financial Aid Office to ensure it will not affect any student loans.  Please notify the Honors Program office of your plans to defer by emailing honors@colorado.edu

I'd like to defer my graduation in order to finish my thesis. Do I have to be enrolled in classes?

You can defer graduation 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 have been met for graduation. You can then change your graduation to a future term via the Buff Portal. Honors cannot be awarded after a student graduates, so this 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 that your registration packet can be updated.

If you defer graduation in order to finish your honors thesis, you do not have to be enrolled in classes.  If you would like access to certain university benefits during the semester in which you are not registered (such as an EcoPass, the ability to check out books from the library, etc.), please complete the LOA Optional Benefits Application on the Office of the Registrar's website.  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 by emailing honors@colorado.edu

How are honors notated on the diploma and transcript?

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).

 

Honors Theses

When should I submit the registration form for my thesis project? Do I need to have the project mostly completed?

You should register your thesis project with the Honors Program Office the semester prior to the semester in which you plan to defend.  For example, if you plan to defend your thesis in April (spring semester), you would register your project the previous October (the prior fall semester). 

Your project does not need to be at a certain level of completion in order to register.  You can't register your project the same semester in which you plan to defend; the deadline for defense in a certain semester is always the semester prior (for a spring defense, the deadline is in October, and for a fall defense, the deadline is in April.  Be sure to check our website or the registration 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 instructions on the registration form for committee member eligibility requirements). 

Once your registration form is submitted, you are permitted 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 Office of any committee changes, and any major changes to your prospectus.

How long are honors theses?

Each discipline has its own standards - what's important is the content, not the length.

I have more than one major. Can I submit the same thesis for honors in multiple majors?

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. 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.

Where can I find out more about copyright and fair use?

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.

Once I've registered my thesis, can I make changes to my committee?

You are welcome to make changes to your committee as needed.  Please be sure that any prospective new member meets the following eligibility requirements:  “To be eligible to serve on a thesis committee a member 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 permitted to serve on thesis committees.”  If you are changing your Outside Reader, also be sure that they are outside your major department.  If you're changing your Thesis Advisor or Honors Council Representative, you will need to submit an addendum to your registration form.  Please contact the Honors Program Office for instructions on how to do this.  Please also contact the office if you're not sure of a prospective committee member's eligibility; we are happy to confirm eligibility for you.

Please be sure to notify the Honors Program Office of any changes to your committee by emailing honors@colorado.edu.  Your new committee member's eligibility will then be verified and your registration packet will be updated.

I've changed the title of my paper, or modified the topic. Do I need to notify the Honors Program office?

For changes to your title, you do not need to notify the Honors Program office.  We will update your thesis title when you upload your final copy to CU Scholar, so feel free to make changes as necessary until then.

For changes to your topic, if they are minor tweaks, you do not need to notify us.  If you change your topic altogether, we will need a new prospectus and a new initial bibliography.  If you have questions, as always, let us know by emailing honors@colorado.edu!

How can I ensure my project goes smoothly and I have all the information I need?

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:

  1. Write legibly on the registration form and turn it into the Honors Program office in person and by the deadline.  The Program Coordinator will go over your registration packet with you to make sure it is legible, accurate, and complete.  She will also go over the deadlines to make sure you understand everything, so please be sure to turn your registration packet in personally.
  2. Add honors@colorado.edu to your email address book so that correspondence from us does not go to your spam folder.
  3. 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 honors@colorado.edu in a timely manner.
  4. 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 Rep has not been able to assist you, please reach out to honors@colorado.edu and we will guide you towards helpful resources.  You do not need to notify the Honors Program office of your defense date/time.
  5. 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 turning it in to the Honors Program office.  If you have questions about this, 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 on anything, 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 honors@colorado.edu.  We are here to support you, and appreciate your diligence and hard work!

Thesis Advisors and Committees

How do I find a thesis advisor?

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, Senior Instructor or Instructor. Graduate students are not allowed to serve on thesis committees.

There are three good 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.

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.

What role should my advisor play in my thesis project?

Your 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 with 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.

Who needs to be on my committee?

You must have at least three faculty members from the University of Colorado Boulder on your committee:

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, Senior Instructor or Instructor. Graduate students are not allowed to serve on thesis committees.  If you're not sure whether someone is eligible, email honors@colorado.edu with the name and department of the individual, and we will check eligibility for you.