Honors Thesis

The most detailed information for the Honors Thesis can be found in the Honors Thesis Handbook, or for students, in the Honors Advising Canvas page. These resources include a suggested timeline, as well as a comprehensive explanation of the process and items due. Your Honors academic advisor is the best resource for questions about thesis requirements or how to get started. Faculty should contact the Honors Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Eric Welch at eric.welch@uky.edu.

Honors Thesis Information

The Honors thesis provides a culmination to an Honors student’s academic career. The Honors thesis should be an outgrowth of the student’s academic work, rooted in their chosen discipline, in most cases in the student’s major or minor. In cases where a student has multiple majors, minors, or interdisciplinary interests that are not captured in a major or minor, the student should work with their Honors academic advisor to identify an area that is supported by their academic work and direct them to relevant faculty.

The Honors thesis offers an opportunity - along with the responsibility - for a student to work with a faculty member on a research or creative project that integrates and expands on previous work. The Honors thesis will incorporate relevant, current research/previous work and demonstrate experience with design, execution, analysis, and presentation. An Honors thesis proposal must be submitted and approved by the faculty member advising the project and by the Lewis Honors College (proposals and the finished work needs to be submitted to your Honors academic advisor). Students with specific questions are asked to contact their Honors advisor.

The Honors thesis may take different forms based on the student’s field of study. The product/output of the Honors thesis may take the form of a paper developed out of independent research done in a lab, a creative project with research into an artistic movement or period, an engineering design report outlining an original solution to a significant problem, or another similarly academic, discipline-specific project.

A major goal of an Honors thesis is for the student to demonstrate a command of the relevant research/discipline/creative area and to document their own personal contributions to the area in a discipline appropriate manner. Typically, the product/output of the Honors thesis is a written report and a public presentation, where the length and level of detail will vary depending on the discipline. For example, in fine arts the final performance or artwork would serve as the presentation and the written document would provide an explanation of or reflection on the creative process followed, demonstrating the information literacy of the student. With a full recital, the written document could be program notes, while a lecture recital would require a more extended paper.


An Honors thesis will consist of a written document and a public presentation and must be associated with a graded, 3 credit course, such as HON 491 (starting Fall 2020, pending senate approval) or a departmental equivalent. Students are asked to reach out to their Honors academic advisor to find out if their major has a departmental equivalent or a suggested path for completing an Honors thesis in that major. Some departments have courses that require a significant individual project, including both a written component and an oral presentation (e.g., BIO 398). With departmental approval, this course may fulfill the Honors thesis requirement. All departments are encouraged to create their own courses to meet this requirement. 

One year prior to thesis completion students should submit a Thesis Agreement Form, securing their faculty mentor. The Honors Thesis Proposal is due in the second week of the semester in which a student completes their thesis. Finally, theses should be submitted with the signed cover page for certification of completion. 

Important Documents and Forms

Honors Thesis Handbook

Thesis Agreement Form

Thesis Proposal Cover Page

Final Thesis Cover Page (.docx)

Syllabus for HON 491 Honors Thesis