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Thesis Defense

Towards the beginning of the spring semester, the committee and the thesis writer should commit to a date for the defense, which is open to the public. Defenses need to be done by mid-April. Typically, defenses are scheduled for one hour in the late afternoon. Once the date is set, the student should fill out the online defense scheduling form. Two weeks before the defense, thesis writers will furnish complete copies of the thesis to the project advisor and the two faculty readers.

Structure of the All College Thesis Defense:

  1. The advisor of the thesis normally acts as convener of the defense, welcoming the student and readers, as well as other faculty members and students who have come.
  2. The defense begins with a 20 minute presentation of the student’s research. The student may also give a short account of how the project evolved and what he or she might have done differently.
  3. One of the readers begins by asking questions about the thesis, the methodology used, the conclusions drawn, etc.
  4. The second reader does the same.
  5. The student’s primary advisor for the thesis does the same.
  6. Other members of the audience are asked for their questions as time permits. (The defense should not last more than an hour.)
  7. At the end of the questioning and discussion, the audience is thanked for coming and dismissed, and the student is asked to wait outside while the committee evaluates the project. (However, if preferred, this meeting can be held later.)
  8. The advisor leads this discussion and takes notes on the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the project. These notes should be used when the advisor writes up a short evaluation of the project. This evaluation will be kept in the Honors Program file and may be used in writing future letters of recommendation for the student.
  9. The panel decides the appropriate grade for the thesis. Students who have received a grade of A on their Thesis will receive special recognition on their transcripts and at commencement: "Graduated with Distinction in [your major]." The faculty committee should please keep in mind that this is a B.A. thesis or project, not an M.A. project, but Distinction should not be awarded unless the work is of excellent quality.
  10. The student is asked to join the panel members for a brief report of their reactions to the thesis and defense. If the student has received departmental distinction (a grade of A), the panel may tell him or her at this point. The panel congratulates the student for having passed the defense. The advisor fills out the online evaluation form. The Honors Director will submit the grade the registrar. It is very important that the Honors Director get this information in time to put the information on the Commencement Programs.