Education Program

Honors Thesis Overview

Students wishing to graduate with honors in education studies must write an honors thesis during their senior year. The thesis should serve as a capstone experience to the undergraduate major in education studies; it is a challenging enterprise that can be among the most significant and rewarding activities in your undergraduate career. 

Writing a thesis involves extensive empirical and/or theoretical/analytical investigation into an educational topic, and it requires careful scholarship, good organizational skills, and the ability to work independently. Successful completion of an honors thesis will require a substantial, sustained effort through which you will gain skills and expertise that will serve you well beyond the undergraduate program. It will provide you with the opportunity to: 1) develop expertise in a particular topic related to education, 2) learn how to critically analyze existing research in the field of education, 3) learn how to conduct empirical research, and 4) improve your organizational and written and oral communication skills.

In your junior year, you should begin contemplating the possibility of doing a senior thesis. You should consider the following questions:

  • Are you passionate and excited about an educational topic that you want to think deeply about across a full year of study? 
  • Will you be able to manage your time independently, do a sustained research project, and present your findings and arguments orally and in writing? 
  • Will you have enough time necessary for such a project? Although students receive two full course credits for the thesis their senior year, signing up for ED 99a and ED 99b in the fall and spring semesters, the time commitment and intellectual effort may be more than two typical courses.

If you can answer these questions affirmatively, you should speak with the Education Program Honors Thesis Coordinator, Professor Ziva Hassenfeld, during your junior year. Additionally, you must submit a two-page project proposal no later than May 1 in the spring semester of your junior year to Professor Hassenfeld to be reviewed by the Education Studies core faculty. Please title your submission: LastName_FirstName_EdStudiesSeniorThesisProposal

Requirements and Standards

Eligibility to write an Honors Thesis in Education

Students must:

a. be an Education Studies Major
b. discuss their plans with an Education Program faculty member in the spring of their junior year so that reading, compiling a bibliography, and initial research necessary for writing a proposal can be conducted over the summer
c. submit a two-page proposal to the Honor Thesis Coordinator Professor Ziva Hassenfeld by May 1 of their junior year.

Interested students who do not meet the requirements to write an honors thesis may petition the Honors Thesis Coordinator. Petitions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Standards for an Honors Thesis

Students must:

a. meet the deadlines for thesis completion,
b. produce a thesis that meets the form and style requirements set by the Education Program, and
c. conduct an oral presentation/defense of the project in late spring semester of the senior year.


Your committee of readers will make a recommendation to the Education Program faculty based on the quality of the project and paper after the formal presentation in late spring. It is possible to earn honors, high honors, or highest honors. The criteria for these designations are:


The student has successfully completed and defended an honors thesis with distinction, in writing and in person.

High Honors

The student has successfully completed and defended an honors thesis with unusual distinction, in writing and in person.

Highest Honors

The student has successfully completed and defended an honors thesis with the highest distinction, in writing and in person. Only the most original scholarship and eloquent presentation warrant this evaluation.

Funding and Prizes

The university offers a number of opportunities for funding and issues some thesis prizes. For more information see the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Collaborations.