Senior Thesis

The Honors Senior Thesis is required of all Honors Program Thesis Track candidates. It represents the result of a substantial research project chosen by the student, and is designed to provide a challenging, rewarding educational experience for the student. As a general rule, the thesis should be significantly more substantive than an in-course paper, but something less than a Master's thesis.

The Senior Thesis should be the result of an ongoing relationship between student, Tutor, and Reader. The thesis project itself should entail a number of discrete tasks, many of which are detailed in our Thesis Requirements.

The Senior Thesis should be original in its conception and analysis. Originality, however, need not mean the discovery of new knowledge, but can be reflected in the questions posed, the synthesis formed, or the organization and presentation of data. Theses should be the result of serious research, original thinking, and a clear understanding of the issues surrounding a topic. Since in-depth, comprehensive studies are usually preferable to broad surveys, topics should be feasible in terms of the students’ competencies and the time available.

Students should possess some background knowledge and any essential methodological skills prior to embarking on the thesis. The final paper should place the specific topic in a broader scholarly context by exhibiting familiarity with other literature on the subject. Students involved in projects involving empirical research should develop a testable hypothesis, design and conduct a study to test it, and analyze the results in an appropriate manner.

Length should be determined by what is appropriate for the particular subject. In the past, theses using Social Science methodology have ranged from 20 to 60 pages; those in the Humanities from 60 to 80 pages; and theses in the Natural/Mathematical Sciences typically have been 10 to 30 pages.

Please review the requirements below or our Thesis FAQs or for more information.

Thesis Requirements

Junior Year

In December, juniors chair the thesis presentations at the Senior Thesis Research Conference.  Responsibilities include announcing, and preparing questions for, at least one thesis presentation.  Juniors planning to write a thesis are required to attend the entire conference.

Students must register for HON 6000: Senior Thesis I, for the Fall Semester of their senior year. Students must select a general area of research and a Tutor by the end of the Spring Semester.  Ordinarily, students should select their Tutors from among Villanova faculty members who possess expertise in the chosen topic area. 

Before the end of the semester, students should meet with their Tutors to begin discussing possible topics and to generate summer reading lists. Students also are encouraged to review model theses from past years in the Falvey Library collection.

At the end of the semester, junior thesis students must attend at least three senior thesis defenses.

Summer before Senior Year

Rising seniors may extend their Falvey Library borrowing privileges over the summer.  Students are required to be in touch with their Tutors (via e-mail) as they begin developing their thesis topics.

Senior Year

Fall Semester

Senior thesis writers must register for HON 6000: Senior Thesis I, and must complete course assignments and meet Thesis deadlines.

Fall Semester deadlines include, but are not limited to:

  • Tutor and Reader identified by Week 4       
  • Thesis contract due in Week 4
  • Thesis topic due in Week 5
  • Bibliography/literature review due in Week 6
  • Brief Thesis outline and research design due in Week 7
  • Abstracts and expanded proposal due by the end of November
  • Participation in Senior Thesis Research Conference in December

Spring Semester

Senior Thesis writers must register for HON 6002: Senior Thesis II, and must meet Thesis deadlines.

 Spring Semester deadlines include, but are not limited to:

  • First Draft due to Tutor, Reader, and Honors Office in Week 10
  • These Defense in Weeks 13-14
  • Final Drafts due in the Honors Office during Final Examinations

Digital Thesis Archives

To view previous senior theses in their entirety, please browse the Falvey Library Digital Archives.

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