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Honors Program Thesis

The Honors Program gives students the opportunity to distinguish themselves as applicants for post-graduate programs and competitive job positions. After completing Honors courses each the Fall (HON 192, HON 292, and HON 392), students develop an independent research project (HON 492) with a faculty adviser of their choice. This experience readies them for independent research.

Students learn to plan research questions and a timeline to produce a 30-page thesis and deliver a 45-minute presentation followed by a 15 minutes of Q&A. To perform effectively, the Honors Program expects students to exhibit a high level of expertise and communicative skills when presenting their findings, both orally and textually, to an interdisciplinary audience.

Examples of Interdisciplinary Theses

  • A biology major worked with a political science professor to study the effects of ecotourism in the preservation of the habitat of the great white shark.
  • A health sciences student worked with a biology major to develop a nutrition plan and its implementation and instruction for Kenyan orphans whose parents were lost to the effects of the AIDS virus. The student used her study abroad funding to travel to Kenya for the research and to provide instructional courses for the community members who distribute food to the children.

Writing an Honors Program Thesis

Students who wish to write an Honors Program Thesis on a topic that they generate themselves must take the following steps: 

  1. Meet with the Program Chair (Dr. Rich, Science East 164), the semester before they wish to work on the thesis. This should typically be the Winter Semester of their Sophomore year. 
  2. During that semester a committee will be set up that includes an advisor, the Honors Program Chair and another faculty member with expertise in the field. An additional Honors Program student will be asked to attend the proposal meeting. 
  3. Students should print out and follow the guidelines for Honors Program Thesis Proposals elsewhere on this site or contact Ann Garcia (x4484) or for the form and information. Generally, the committee will want to know why they're writing this paper, what other scholarly sources have said about it, and what new kinds of new light they will shed on the topic by writing about it. 
  4. They will write a 10-page paper addressing these topics and include a two or three-page bibliography that will be turned in by week 10 of the semester. 
  5. When the proposal has been received, the Honors Program Committee will read it and make suggestions. 
  6. The Honors Program Chair will call a meeting with the student and the committee around week 12 of the semester. If there are not too many revisions, the student will continue to work on the project during the next semester. 
  7. The Honors Program strongly recommends that students who come up with their own thesis topics apply for research funds from the SVSU Creativity Institute. However, this is not a requirement.
  8. The program chair will give students and their advisors the paperwork to sign up for the Honors Program Thesis course. Do not try to do this without the Honors Program Chair, as it does not appear anywhere in the catalog. 
  9. During the semester students write their thesis, they will be expected to finish the 30-page paper. This should be completed by week 10 so that it can be defended in week 11 and turned into the Honors Program Chair for evaluation. (Both the advisor and Honors Program Chair have to agree that the thesis is acceptable.) 
  10. Ann Garcia (ex. 4484) will be contacting students early in the semester to set up the defense that will take place in week 11 of the semester. 
  11. After the thesis is defended and the completed paper is turned in, the student's advisor and the Chair of the Honors Program will evaluate the paper. If it is satisfactory, the student will be paid $600.00. Students will only receive their payment if a satisfactory paper is turned in to the professor the same semester it is submitted to the Honors Program Chair.

If students wish to work with a faculty member working on a research project they will need to take the following steps:

  1. The student should tell the Honors Program Chair that they want to take this approach the semester before they want to write the thesis. For example, if they want to write their thesis in Fall '11, they need to contact the Honors Program Chair early in Winter '11 to get the project set up. 
  2. Faculty often ask the Honors Program Chair to list their research project on the Honors Program blackboard site. Faculty who are looking for research assistance understand that if students work with them, they will be advising their Honors Program Thesis. This is one way to find a research project. 
  3. A second way to find a research project is to contact the chair who keeps track of faculty research across campus. The chair typically knows of faculty who are doing research either exactly in the discipline a student chooses or close to that discipline. The chair will then tell the professor that a student wishes to work with him or her on their research project. Faculty are typically delighted to work with Honors Program students. 
    • The chair will send the faculty member (now the student's advisor) a signed registration form with the appropriate class listed in the title for both to fill out. Students will need to make an appointment to meet with their advisor as soon as they get approval from the Honors Program Chair.


  • Students who take this approach to the Honors Program Thesis do not have to form a thesis committee or write a thesis proposal. 
  • Students are required to work as a research assistant for the faculty member during the semester that they have agreed to write their Honors Thesis. By the end of the 10 week period, however, students will need a polished 30 page paper that will serve as their thesis. The Honors Program recommends that students complete small sections of the paper along the way.
  • Ann Garcia will be contacting students to set up their defense. 
  • After the thesis is defended and the completed paper is turned in, the student's advisor and the Chair of the Honors Program will evaluate the paper. If it is satisfactory, the student will be paid $600.00. The student will only receive payment, however, if a satisfactory paper is turned in during the same semester that it is submitted. 

Students in the arts often have different objectives from students in all other disciplines. A fine arts student with an interest in painting, for example, might want to do a show with his or her own paintings instead of a written Honors Program Thesis. This kind of creativity is strongly encouraged. Here are the kinds of steps students will need to take to complete the thesis process:

  1. Students can select either the student-directed project style or the faculty-directed research. 
  2. Inform the Honors Program Chair of which one the student would like to pursue and get the registration paperwork started. 
  3. Students will not be expected to write a 30 page paper but will have to write a summary of their work. For example, if they did a show of their art, a summary should accompany their artwork. 
  4. Plan on having the show or performance by week 10 of the semester. Students will be expected to talk about their work during the show. This will constitute their defense. 
  5. Plan on documenting the whole work through pictures and text so that the program has evidence of the work. 
  6. Students will receive payment ($600.00) when all of this has been completed by week 11 of the semester.

2018-2019 Honors Graduates Theses

Gabrielle R. Alston
Major: Professional and Technical Writing
Thesis Title: Technical Communicators in Global Marketing: Cultural and Communicator Influences on Marketing and Media Types in the Modern World
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Scott Kowalewski

Bailey K. Brown
Major: Criminal Justice
Thesis Title: Reigniting the Light: Examining Church Policies and Procedures Regarding Prevention of and Response to Child Sexual Abuse
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Sheruni Ratnabalasuriar

Brianna L. Meyer
Majors: History & French
Thesis Title: Global Citizenship in Another Age: A Critique of Germaine Necker and Enlightenment Cosmopolitanism
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Elizabeth Rich

Danielle M. Musselman
Major: Political Science
Thesis Title: Creating Communities to Help End Human Trafficking
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Ross Singer

Lance C. Anderson
Majors: Finance & Economics
Thesis Title: Determinants of Tuition Rates: An Empirical Analysis
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Kaustav Misra

Carlee R. Giordano
Major: Social Work
Thesis Title: The Premise of Manhood: The Unrealized Consequences of a Culture of Masculinity
Thesis Advisor:  Dr. Michael Heron

Olivia M. Bishop
Major: Biology
Thesis Title: Sex Differentiation Changes Observed Through Aromatase Inhibition and Endocrine Disruption: Effects on Parturition, Morphology, and Behavior in the Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus)
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Gary Lange

Kasey Marie Curtis
Major: Biology
Thesis Title: The Influence of Population Structure on Crayfish Aggression
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Arthur Martin, III

Brennon D. Eudis
Major: Biology
Thesis Title: The Effect of Passive Social Media Use on Emotional Well Being
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Julie Lynch 

Nele [NMI] Heinemeier
Majors: Biochemistry & Pre-Med
Thesis Title: Studies Toward the Synthesis of a Dual-Action Antibiotic Using Click Chemistry
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Stephanie Brouet

Julie M. Learst
Major: Biology
Thesis Title: Life Out of Balance: Effects of Vitamin B6 on the Neurotrophin-Receptor Signaling Pathway of Proprioception
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Sylvia Sharp Fromherz 

Sophia E. Modes
Major: Biology
Thesis Title: Access to Healthcare: Exploring the Effects of Demographic Intersections
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Dawn Hinton

Cole A. Pero
Major: Biology
Thesis Title: Vitamin B6 Toxicity in Embryonic Chicken as a Model of Human Neurodegenerative Disease
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Sylvia Sharp Fromherz


Dr. Elizabeth Rich, Honors Program Chair
Science East 164
(989) 964-4317

Programs of Distinction
Wickes Hall 230H
(989) 964-7320

Cathy Davis, Administrative Secretary
Science East 260
(989) 964-4110