Thesis Requirements

Departmental Honors Requirements

At the University of Iowa, individual colleges and departments decide the requirements for graduation with honors in their majors and certificate programs.  Some require honors theses or other honors projects and most permit them.  Each honors thesis or honors project also qualifies its creator for one Honors Commendation from the University of Iowa Honors Program.  These honors projects come to the Honors Program for public display and scholarly use.  Thus the Honors Program regulates several aspects of their form and substance.

An honors thesis or other honors project is an original contribution to inquiry or art.  It must be prepared according to the major’s rules for size, content, method, material, timing, supervision, and defense.  In addition, the Honors Program requires a signed title page, a one-page abstract that follows the title page immediately, and an electronic version of the abstract.  Formatted as abstracts, artists’ statements may serve in their place.  The Honors Program lists honors projects and provides their abstracts on its website.  It houses the projects themselves in the Blank Honors Center.  Copyright remains with the project creators, and submitting the projects to the Honors Program constitutes permission for these limited uses.

Departments may permit students to collaborate on a single honors thesis or project.  With approval from departmental honors advisor(s) and faculty mentor(s), these collaborations may even be interdisciplinary.  At the outset, a collaboration plan should be approved by the relevant advisor(s) and mentor(s).  In the end, individual contributions must be delineated in ways acceptable to the advisor(s) and mentor(s).  A written application for approval of the thesis or project must specify and justify the collaboration, stating clearly the contributions of each student.  This must be signed by the advisor(s) and mentor(s), then filed with the Honors Program when the title page and the abstract are filed.  When advance warning has been provided to prospectively unsatisfactory contributors, advisor(s) and mentor(s) may approve some contributions but not others for the same project.  With this in mind, mentor(s) must monitor progress closely as collaborative projects proceed.  If a college or department makes further rules for collaboration on honors theses or projects, it should provide these rules promptly to the Honors Program.

Title Page:  The paper copy deposited with the Honors Program must follow the format stated here and exemplified in the sample.  Please proofread the title page carefully before submitting it, because the Honors Program may not accept title pages with errors in format or typing.

  • The title page and abstract should be single spaced with the exception of spacing between elements. The newer versions of Word are set to 1.15 lines with 10 pt after each paragraph. Please amend these settings to single spacing and 0 points after each paragraph.
  • The title page and abstract must both be single sided. We encourage you to print the body of your thesis as a double-sided document to conserve paper, but you are free to print it in accordance with departmental requirements or your own preferences.
  • Margins:  Center each line from left to right. Left and right margins must be at least 1.25 inches. Space the components more or less equally from top to bottom, as shown in the sample.
  • Markings:  Do not include a running head or a page number for the title page or the abstract.
  • Capitals:  Use capital letters for the full title. An exception is wording or notation that must include lower-case characters to state a scientific or technical name. Please consult your thesis director or departmental honors advisor about appropriate use of upper and lower cases before submitting your title page.
  • Italics:  Use a regular text font, not italics or boldface, for the entire title. Italicize only words that a discipline customarily italicizes–such as book or film title or the names of long poetic works. For sciences, follow your major's guidelines for italicizing names of genes, genera, species, or the like.
  • Project Director:  This is the faculty member who officially guided the project.
  • Semester and Year:  The semester of graduation must be an academic term (Spring 2013 or Summer 2013 or Fall 2013) rather than a month.
  • Department:  Use the full name of your major department, not the name of the major itself:  thus the major might be studio art but the department would be the School of Art and Art History.
  • Honors Advisor:  This is your major department’s honors advisor.
  • Signatures:  Please make arrangements for title-page signatures before the end of classes, because faculty schedules can make contact difficult during finals week. 

Paper Abstract:  The copy deposited with the Honors Program must follow the format stated here.  Please proofread the abstract carefully before submitting it, because we do not accept abstracts with errors in format or typing. One-page abstracts are best, and no abstract may be longer than two pages.

  • Margins:  Left and right margins must be at least 1.25 inches. Shorten the bottom margin if your abstract barely spills over onto a second page.
  • Title Block:  Use the information on the title page to:
  1. center the title all in caps at the top,
  2. skip one line going down,
  3. center “by” on the next line,
  4. skip one line,
  5. center your name,
  6. center the semester and year of graduation on the next line down,
  7. skip one line,
  8. center the project director's name,
  9. center “Project Director from” then the major department’s name (e.g., “Physics”), and
  10. skip two more lines.
  • Project Summary:  In a first single-spaced paragraph (with the first line indented from the left) evoke the project’s main topics and issues then clarify their significance.  Next skip a line.  In a second single-spaced paragraph (with the first line indented), explain the project’s main methods as well as their application to the project’s topics and issues. Then skip a line. And in a third single-spaced paragraph (with the first line indented), summarize the results, noting what has been learned, how, and to what potential effect. 

Electronic Abstract:  The copy provided to the Honors Program must print to produce exactly the paper copy submitted. The electronic version must be readable by Microsoft Word.  It should be attached to an e-mail addressed to as soon as you have completed it and before you submit your full thesis. Please use your University of Iowa e-mail account to submit your abstract so your name with alphabetize properly. Any corrections will be communicated to you using Word's Review feature, so please familiarize yourself with it. Wait until you receive e-mail confirmation that you abstract has been accepted before you submit the full thesis.

Binding:  Theses for the Honors Program. Please do not punch or bind the copy you submit to Honors. Keep the pages together with a paper clip or binder clip.

Approval:  Contact the Honors Administrative Services Coordinator at the fourth-floor reception desk in 420 Blank Honors Center for proofing and format approval before you take it to the project director and the departmental honors advisor for signatures. A seal is added to the title page to show the honors advisor that these requirements have been met. Advisors are not to approve projects without this seal.

We recommend that you bring a copy of your title page in a portable electronic form. Then if corrections are needed, you can make them in the Honors ITC (318 BHC) and resubmit the title page immediately, sparing yourself a second trip.

Due Date:  Plan ahead! Securing approval of your abstract and title page takes time--don't delay until the last minute when faculty may have end-of-term commitments--and keep in mind that it takes time to review all the title pages and abstracts we receive each semester. The copy of your thesis for the Honors Program is due at 420 BHC by 4:30 p.m. on the Wednesday of finals week during your semester of graduation.

If you have questions, or if you plan to submit the same thesis to two departments, please contact the Honors Administrative Services Coordinator at 335-1681.

rev. 5/2/2013