Out of thousands of students at UNC, only about 350 are willing to spend six credit hours and months of research to complete an honors thesis.
UNC offers students the opportunity to complete an honors thesis in their major fields of study. To start working on the project, students must be in the second semester of their junior year or the first semester of their senior year. According to the senior thesis guidelines posted on the Honors Carolina website, the final product can be a research, performance or creative project as long as it is deemed original and substantial.
Students spend two semesters researching, writing, editing and revising under the supervision of a faculty advisor. At the end of the process, the project is evaluated by a committee of faculty who can choose whether or not to award the student with honors.
James Leloudis, the associate dean for Honors Carolina, believes the program provides students with four key skills: the ability to ask incisive questions, to find relevant data, to extract meaning from that data and to share their discoveries in a clear and compelling way.
“It’s an opportunity to pursue a topic, a question, that you’re passionately curious to investigate,” Leloudis said. “There’s a certain joy and fulfillment in that intellectual endeavor.”
First-year Karen Huang, a psychology major in Honors Carolina, plans to do an honors thesis. She’s considering looking into topics related to biology or the medical field, possibly having to do with the heart or heart disease.
“In the honors program, honestly, you don’t get a lot of benefits,” Huang said. “So I feel like the honors thesis is a really good opportunity, even though people not in the honors program can still do it.”
Students can choose to do a senior honors thesis project whether or not they are a part of Honors Carolina. Leloudis said for those pursuing a master’s degree or a Ph.D., the opportunity to conduct original research may be highly beneficial. But for those who would benefit more from taking other classes or starting an internship, taking on an honors thesis might not be the best choice.
“For some students, doing an honors thesis may clearly be the thing that they should do given how they’re thinking about their life post-graduation,” Leloudis said. “But there’s also lots of other ways to use that academic time.”