History Honors Thesis Guidelines

Compiled by Chris Bishof, former History Honors Major and Phi Alpha Theta chapter President, May 2007; currently a graduate student in History at Rutgers. 

Familiarize yourself with the Honors College  webpage on the Senior Thesis requirements first. Students entering the Honors College 2010 or later are now required to submit an Honors Thesis Prospectus at the end of the semester prior to beginning their thesis; see the Senior Thesis website for a link to the prospectus form.

The following guidelines for the thesis are particularly relevant to History majors:


The thesis should be of greater depth than the paper resulting from the senior capstone course, HIST 498/HIST 496H, but not as in depth as a master’s thesis.  The thesis should make extensive use of primary sources, demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the historiography of the topic, and offer its own unique argument.   The length of the paper will vary, typically anywhere from 20-60 pages, depending on your advisor’s expectations and your own writing tendencies.


The student should choose a topic of their own accord.  When choosing a topic, the student should keep in mind the ability to find primary and secondary sources on their topic at the University of Arizona and the ability to find a suitable advisor.  A portion of the first semester of honors thesis work is expected to be dedicated to doing research on a general topic in order to refine the specific topic of the thesis.

First Semester Expectations

The first semester is dedicated to research and results in the submission of, at a minimum, a finalized proposal and a near-finalized bibliography.  In addition, the student and advisor may agree that an outline or introduction be submitted in order to demonstrate the quality of the research done.  The grade for the first semester is based on the quality and depth of the research done.  Under no circumstances shall the first semester grade be submitted as “incomplete” pending the submission of the thesis at the end of the second semester.  If the advisor feels  the research done in the first semester is inadequate and unacceptable, he or she may recommend the honors thesis be discontinued. 

Second Semester Expectations

The second semester is dedicated to the writing of the thesis.  The student should be made aware, in writing, of any problems with their thesis that will result in a grade lower than an “A” at least three weeks before the final submission deadline.  However, it is the student’s responsibility to submit a rough draft sufficiently ahead of the thesis due date, and keeping in mind the advisor’s schedule, to make such feedback possible.  The second semester grade is based on the writing process, but primarily on final paper itself. The thesis is due on the last day of classes the semester you are graduating.

Expectations for Advisors

The advisor is expected to communicate to the student any improvements they feel could  be made and to do so in a timely manner.  The advisor should be as flexible as possible to accommodate the student’s vision of the project, so long as that vision is feasible.

Expectations for Students

The student is expected to communicate any changes to their topic to the advisor in a timely manner.  It is the responsibility of the student to submit rough drafts of the bibliography in the first semester and the actual paper in the second semester on pre-determined dates agreed mutually agreed upon at the beginning of the semester.

Requirements for Final Thesis Submission

Leave yourself enough time to get everything signed and submitted BEFORE the due date, which is the last day of classes the semester you are graduating.

ALL of the following must be submitted.  Click on the links for format requirements. 

An electronic copy of your thesis. The thesis should be a single integrated pdf file (except in the case of video or audio clips) which must include the following elements:

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

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