Guidelines for Thesis Supervisors

The information on this page provides helpful tips and advice for faculty who agree to become a supervising faculty member for a student who is pursuing a Senior Honors Thesis.

Students arrive at the decision to complete a Senior Honors Thesis through a wide variety of paths. Some have been involved in the University Honors Program and have taken departmental honors seminars prior to the senior year; some are transfer students with little research experience at this institution; some have never worked independently on a significant intellectual project. Given the diversity of their experience and their motivation, students generally need more assistance than you might assume from viewing their academic records.

If you agree to become a faculty mentor for a student pursuing a Senior Honors Thesis, the first recommended step is to set up an in-person meeting with the student to discuss his/her research interests related to your field(s) of expertise.  To provide a guide for this conversation, and to formally initiate the thesis proposal process, the Senior Honors Thesis Committee highly recommends following the guidelines provided in the thesis initiation packet (see Printable Forms) for these early conversations.  A signed thesis initiation packet is required to be submitted alongside the student's thesis proposal by the appropriate deadline (see Important Dates and Deadlines) to be included in the Senior Honors Thesis Committee's review process.

Although an undergraduate Senior Honors Thesis is largely an independent exercise, students will need guidance with the following:

  • Discerning a thesis within a manageable topic.
  • Identifying appropriate research tools and methods; contacting other faculty members with related areas of expertise.
  • Learning technical research procedures.
  • Evaluating the relevance of published sources and preparing a focused, current bibliography.
  • Devising a schedule for completion of certain stages of the thesis. This should include meetings with you on a regular basis.
  • Organizing and editing the final paper in accordance with the documentation style relevant to your field.

Once a paper is completed to your satisfaction, your role is to:

  1. Approve the distribution of the paper to the two other readers on the defense committee; compel student to get copies of the paper to readers at least two weeks before the oral defense.
  2. Make sure the student has arranged for the oral defense date, time, and location and has notified the thesis coordinator (Katherine Rucker) of these details.
  3. The student is responsible for completing and returning the Thesis Evaluation Form (see Printable Forms) to the attention of the thesis coordinator in the Etscorn Honors Center in Threlkeld Hall indicating the defense committee's decision regarding the thesis (without this information, the student will not be cleared for graduation honors).
  4. In case of a "provisional pass," review the student's revised thesis to ensure that it meets the requirements of the defense committee before allowing the student to submit the final copy of the thesis to the thesis coordinator. NOTE: Students' names will not be submitted to the Dean’s Office as magna or summa cum laude candidates until the thesis coordinator receives the approved version of the thesis.
  5. Remind your student to submit his/her finalized thesis via to the thesis coordinator ( as an e-mail attachment (.doc or .pdf formats are preferred) along with five to seven key words or phrases that will assist in archiving and indexing the thesis in Ekstrom Library's searchable digital collection. In addition, students are asked to complete and submit a signed copy of the Nonexclusive License form (see Printable Forms) to indicate their permission for archiving in the digital collection.

Katherine Rucker coordinates the Senior Honors Thesis process. If you have additional questions, please feel free to stop by the Etscorn Honors Center in Stricker Hall, Rm. 126 or contact Katherine via phone at 502.852.4962 or email at