Student showing their thesis

Getting started

Preparing for the honors thesis

What is the honors thesis?

The honors thesis is the culmination of Barrett students’ honors experience and their entire undergraduate education.

The honors thesis is an original piece of work developed by a student under the guidance of a thesis committee. It is an opportunity for students to work closely with faculty on important research questions and creative ideas. The honors thesis can have either a research or creative focus, and enables students to design, execute and present an intellectually rigorous project in their chosen field of study.

The first step in the honors thesis process is the completion of a thesis preparation workshop.

These workshops equip every Barrett student with knowledge about the logistics, resources and expectations for the honors thesis. Barrett students are encouraged to complete a thesis preparation workshop no later than the first semester of their junior year.

Enroll in the online self-paced workshop


Or, sign up to attend a live workshop offered in the fall or spring semester:

Thursday, August 25, 2022
4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Noble 105 (Tempe campus)

Friday, September 9, 2022
4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Noble 105 (Tempe campus)

Thursday, September 29, 2022
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm (MST)

Friday, October 28, 2022
3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Noble 105 (Tempe campus)

Thursday, November 3, 2022
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm (MST)

Friday, November 18, 2022
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm (MST)

Ready to take the next step?

Following the completion of a thesis preparation workshop, Barrett students should schedule a thesis advising appointment with their Barrett Honors Advisor to discuss and review the guidebook, checklist and the due dates that correspond with the semester they intend to complete their undergraduate degree.

Thesis/Creative Project Student Guidebook

Please explore the resources available to you within this guidebook to ensure your success. Refer to the checklist on page 13 to continue moving forward in the process.

View the Student Guidebook

Thesis/Creative Project Student Guidebook

Student Guidebook sections

Please explore the resources available to you within this guidebook to ensure your success. Refer to the checklist on page 13 to continue moving forward in the process.

The thesis/creative project is an original piece of work developed by the students, director, and committee. Most students complete an honors thesis/creative project within their major department but may choose a topic outside of the major. Each department may set its own standards for methodology (i.e., empirical, comparative, or descriptive), thesis/creative project length, and so onReview the relevant Opportunities in the Major documents created by the Faculty Honors Advisors (FHAs) here, and contact the FHAs in your area(s) of interest for additional information.


A scholarly research project involving analysis that is presented in written form. Represents a commitment to research, critical thinking, and an informed viewpoint of the student.

Creative Project

A project that combines scholarship and creative work in which the primary outcome consists of something other than a written document but includes a written document that supports the creative endeavor and involves scholarly research.

Group Projects

Group projects are an opportunity for more than one Barrett student to work on a thesis together. Working in a group gives students valuable experience and enables them to take on larger, more complicated topics. Students may begin a group project with approval of a Thesis Director.

Because the thesis/creative project is the culmination of undergraduate studies, begin thinking about a topic early. Many students base the thesis/creative project on an aspect of coursework, internship, or research. Once an area of interest is identified, take two or three courses that concentrate in that specific area. Selecting a topic should ultimately be done under the guidance of faculty. The thesis/creative project is a joint effort between students and faculty.

Consider these tips and resources as you begin the process of selecting a topic: 

  • Reflect on past experience to determine interests.
  • Talk to faculty including Faculty Honors Advisors about topics that are interesting and relevant to coursework, major, career interests, or from ongoing faculty research.
  • View past thesis/ creative projects through the ASU Library Digital Repository.

Thesis Pathways

Honors Thesis Pathways are unique thesis opportunities, where students can be paired with faculty on interesting and engaging topics. The pathway options provide students a structured experience in completing their thesis, while researching a topic that interests them.

The committee consists of a Director, a Second Committee Member, and may include a Third Committee Member. Ultimately, your committee must approve your thesis/creative project, so work closely with them throughout the process. Specific academic unit committee requirements can be found here.


  • Any member of ASU faculty with professional expertise in the project area. (This excludes graduate students.)
  • Includes lecturer and tenure-line faculty.
  • Primary supervisor of the project.
  • Conducts regular meetings, provides feedback, sets expectations, and presides over the defense.

*Emeritus faculty may serve as thesis directors as approved by the FHA from the department which the thesis is to be completed. Directors are expected to be physically present at the thesis defense. They may not be reimbursed for travel related to attending the defense.

Second Committee Member

  • Individual whom you and your Director decide is appropriate to serve based on knowledge and experience with the thesis/creative project topic.
  • Credentials will be determined by the Director and the criteria of that academic unit.
  • Conducts regular meetings, provides feedback, and offers additional evaluation at the defense.

Third Committee Member (optional-varies by academic unit)

  • Faculty member or qualified professional.
  • If required, credentials will be determined by the Director and the criteria of that academic unit.
  • External Examiners are Third Committee Members.
  • Offer insight and expertise on the topic and provides additional evaluation at the defense.

The prospectus serves as an action plan for the Thesis/Creative Project and provides a definitive list of goals, procedures, expectations, and an overall timeline including internal deadlines for your work. This will lay the groundwork for your project and serve as a reference point for you and your committee. You and your committee should work together to solidify a topic and create project goals. 

Submit your prospectus online

To register:

  • Be enrolled in Barrett, The Honors College and in academic good standing. 
  • Have the approval of the faculty member who serves as the Director. 
  • Complete Thesis Preparation Requirement
    • In-person Barrett thesis workshop
    • Online (via Blackboard) Barrett thesis workshop. Self-enroll- search words “Barrett Honors Thesis/Creative Project Online Workshop”
    • Major specific thesis preparatory workshop or course may be available in limited academic units.

Register for thesis/creative project credits through the department of the Director.  First, obtain override permission from the department of the Director during normal enrollment periods. 


Thesis Credits (up to 6 hours)

  • 492 Honors Directed Study: taken in the first semester during research and creation of the project (not offered by all departments).
  • 493 Honors Thesis: taken in the second semester for defense and completion of the project.  
  • 492 and 493 are sequential and may not be taken in the same semester.  
  • You must register for and successfully complete at least 493 (or its equivalent) to graduate from Barrett, The Honors College.

Grading the Thesis/Creative Project

When the thesis/creative project is completed and approved by the committee, the Director assigns a course grade. Criteria and evaluation for grading are determined by the Director and the standards of that academic discipline.   


Z grade

If you enroll in 492, the Director has the option of assigning a Z grade until the project is completed.

The assignment of a Z grade indicates that a project is in progress and delays placement of a final grade until completion. 


  • Presentation and summary of the thesis/creative project. Format, content, and length are determined by the Director and standards of the content area. Plan to review the origins of the project, its scope, the methodology used, significant findings, and conclusions. 
  • Submit final draft to the committee at least two weeks before the defense. Allow time for revisions leading up to the defense.
  • Work with your committee to set a defense and report to Barrett using the Honors Defense and Thesis Approval form. Once submitted, your Director will automatically be emailed an approval link on the date of your defense.
  • All committee members must participate in the defense.
  • Group projects: Each student is required to submit an individual Honors Defense and Thesis Approval form. All group members must participate in the defense. 
  • Defenses are open to the ASU community and published to the Defense Calendar.
  • Following the presentation, committee members will ask questions about issues raised in the work, choices made in the research, and any further outcomes.
  • At the conclusion of the discussion, the committee will convene to provide an outcome that will determine next steps.

Thesis Outcomes


  • Minor format/editorial corrections may be suggested.
  • Director will report approval using the Final Thesis Approval link emailed to them on the defense date.
  • Your next step is to upload your approved final project to the Barrett Digital Repository.

Provisional Approval (Common outcome)

  • More significant revisions required.
  • Once revisions are complete, Director will report approval using the Final Thesis Approval link emailed to them on the defense date.
  • Your next step is to upload your approved final project to the Barrett Digital Repository after revisions are approved.

Not approved (Least common outcome)

  • Basic design and/or overall execution of the thesis/creative project is significantly flawed.
  • The Director and committee may continue working with the student to make major revisions. You should discuss this with committee and Honors Advisor about implications on Barrett graduation.