Graduating with Departmental Honors emphasizes independent study and research and is therefore intended as the capstone to the student’s undergraduate educational experience. An original thesis developed in consultation with a thesis committee is a requirement for Departmental Honors in Theatre & Dance. The most important features of the Honors Thesis are evidence of scholarship, originality, and thoroughness.


Students should select a research topic no later than three semesters before graduation. Students must apply to the Honors Program by the announced deadline and meet all deadlines provided by the Honors Council for submission of written work and scheduling of the oral defense.

  • It is important to establish a timeline for preparation and completion of the thesis
  • Timeline should include regular consultations with the thesis advisor, and when appropriate, the thesis committee

There are no courses required for Departmental Honors beyond those required for the BA or BFA degrees in theatre and dance. However, for dance students seeking Honors, the following courses must be taken and cannot be waived:
  • DNCE 1027
  • DNCE 4017
  • THTR 4081

Honors Council guidelines for GPA are:
  • Summa Cum Laude 3.8 - 4.0
  • Magna Cum Laude at least 3.5
  • Cum Laude at least 3.3

Students pursuing Departmental Honors must have a 3.5 overall GPA and a minimum 3.6 GPA in theatre and dance classes to qualify.


Students will create a committee of two instructors from the student’s respective division and one from an outside the division. Your thesis advisor must come from your own discipline and one of the three must be a representative from the Honors Council. The Honors Council representative may also be the outside representative.

Dance students: if your Honors project is related to your BFA concert, your First Reader will also be on your Honors committee.

It is the candidate’s responsibility to see that the committee is constituted correctly.


Whether the student chooses to embark on a research or creative project, the student will discuss the topic and gain approval from his or her thesis advisor prior to preparing the prospectus.

Possible research topics can include theatre or dance history, dramatic literature, theory, criticism, or pedagogy. 

Possible creative projects can include choreographing a piece for yourself and/or setting it on other performers, performing a major role in a play, writing or directing a play, or designing all, or part of a production. The creative project may be wholly theoretical or it may culminate in a physical production of the work. The focus of the creative project will become the basis for the analysis of the written work.

The prospectus is due for approval to your thesis advisor two weeks prior to the Honors Council deadline for registering to graduate with honors. This is typically midway through the semester previous to the student’s expected graduation. Once the thesis advisor has approved the prospectus, the student will then submit it to the Honors Council.

The prospectus will include:

  • Working title which cannot exceed 50 characters, including spaces
  • Brief description of the subject or problem to be investigated, or the practical work that will be created and presented
  • Preliminary hypothesis or basic purpose of the thesis
  • Preliminary bibliography
  • Signature of thesis advisor

Guideline for Writing a Departmental Honors Thesis 

There are two options for Departmental Honors in Theatre & Dance:

  1. Research Project
  2. Creative Project

Both options result in a written analysis of the work but the creative project will be further documented using materials appropriate to the project such as regibuch, modellbuch, renderings, photographs, videos, ground plans, front elevations, light plots, reviews, etc.

The average length of the finished thesis is about 30-50 pages of typed, double-spaced text plus a bibliography. Additional information and documentation may be included if the investigation was based on a creative project.

Sources should reflect current research in the field. References in the text to sources used should be clearly and accurately indicated. This is particularly important when using the interpretation of another scholar’s work. A style manual (MLA, APA, etc.) must be adhered to and consistently followed throughout the document.

The student must submit drafts of the paper to their thesis advisor during the writing process. To ensure sufficient guidance, it is essential that the student keep the committee members informed of the progress of the thesis.

The thesis is not a mere ordering or description of facts or events. When there is descriptive material, chronologies, or lists of characters or events, it may be included in one or more appendices at the end of the thesis, before end notes and the bibliography.

Clarity, coherence, fluency, and grammatical accuracy are writing requirements for all honors theses. Please proofread your paper carefully.

  • Abstract
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
    • This includes the thesis statement (topic or idea to be investigated), the intent or purpose of the paper, and why it is relevant to the student and/or to the field of study. If the investigation is based on creative work, the introduction will explain what the student is attempting to achieve through the selected creative process and presentation of that work. How does the research and conclusion connect to the opening thesis statement? The introduction may also include any limits to the topics you intend to cover; for example, you may investigate a specific time frame or only one of several choreographers/authors, etc.
  • Explanation of Methods
    • What methods were used to research and develop the information? How were the references selected and used? If the investigation is based on creative work, describe the methods used to create the work and why they were chosen. Cite historical references and/or contemporary artists when applicable.
  • Evaluation/substance of the paper
    • Research Project: What conclusions can be drawn from the data? Do the conclusions imply further research? How does this investigation relate to coursework? Is this investigation relevant to the field of study and/or to your current and future work?
    • Creative Work: What worked, which elements were successful and why? Which were not and why? What could be done to make the process more successful and/or to strengthen the finished project? Plan to address all aspects of the project as applicable: scheduling, PR, production elements, audience numbers and demographics. If money was required to complete the project, a budget should be included with an evaluation of the proposed budget in relation to the actual costs of the project. What are the implications of the process and completed project on future work?
  • Conclusion
    • Two-three pages that gives closure to the research idea. Be sure to summarize, re-state and synthesize appropriate salient points. Do not include new material in the conclusion.
  • Bibliography
    • A list of books, articles, video clips, etc. referred to in the paper

Oral Defense

The student will present an Oral Defense of the thesis/project paper. It is the student’s responsibility to schedule the time and place with committee members. Last minute requests are difficult for faculty so planning far in advance is requested.

Awarding Honors

The Honors Council, made up of a body of faculty within the College of Arts & Sciences, decides the level of Honors awarded on the basis of the recommendation from the student’s Honors Committee, the quality of the thesis/project paper, quality of performance in the oral examination, and the candidates academic record. 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.

Honors Dates & Deadlines, forms and final submission requirements can be found on the Honor’s website.

For More Information

Contact Theatre & Dance Honors representatives Ted Stark or Bud Coleman. For answers to commonly asked questions, read the Latin honors Frequently Asked Questions page.