Honors Thesis Guidelines

Summary Honors Thesis Guidelines

The International Studies Department offers highly qualified and motivated students opportunities to write an honors thesis in the senior year. This one-page document summarizes the I.S. Full Honors Thesis Guidelines, which students pursuing an actual thesis must possess and consult. The full four-page version is available here in PDF format, or in the I.S. Departmental office, Carnegie 4th floor.

I. Prerequisites for Participation:

  • a declared major in International Studies
  • a minimum cumulative grade-point average at the end of the junior year of 3.50 across the curriculum, and 3.60 for courses in the student's I.S. major plan
  • one semester of study abroad by the end of the junior year. International students are considered to have completed this requirement after one semester at Macalester
  • agreement of a faculty member, who may be in any department, to supervise the student's International Studies Honors Thesis

II. The Proposal:

Students should begin thinking about Honors work early in the junior year. In conjunction with a supervisor, the student develops a proposal which states the problem, outlines the main questions and proposed organization, discusses research methods, offers a bibliography, notes the student’s own preparation, and describes the supervisor’s link to that work.

III. The Application:

For students on-campus in spring of junior year, the proposal must be submitted by April 21st that year. For those abroad then, the proposal must be submitted by the first Friday of fall semester of senior year, though students abroad are strongly encouraged to maintain contact with relevant faculty wherever their location. The proposal must be approved by the supervisor plus two other International Studies core faculty, and notification sent to the College by October 2nd.

IV. The Thesis Process:

The thesis itself is expected to constitute an original contribution to knowledge. While it is difficult to quantify Honors work, typically successful theses exceed 20,000, and quite commonly 25,000 words.

Deadlines in the thesis process are as follows:

  • A full literature review by November 1st
  • Approval to continue sent by the supervisor to the Dean of Academic Programs by January 31
  • Submission of all work to date – understood as at least halfway to full completion – by the first day of the spring semester. Here the supervisor makes a formal evaluation of the work, and judges by February 11th whether the student may proceed.
  • A polished final draft by the Monday immediately following Spring Break. A list of the student’s three-person examining committee should also be completed at this time.
  • Based on comments supplied by the supervisor, the final version – on which the student will be examined – is due two weeks after the post-Spring Break Monday deadline.
  • An oral examination held by the College-set final day for thesis examinations (typically the last Monday in April -- watch for the announcement), and notification to the College by April 30.

V. Final Evaluation:

Final evaluation is done in two parts. The first part consists of a public presentation, and the second part is a one to one-and-one-half hour examination of the candidate by the examination committee, followed by questions from the audience.

VI. Format:

The specific format for International Studies honors theses (items such as title pages, abstracts, contents pages, bibliographies and the like) is listed in the Full Honors Thesis Guidelines.