Capstone/Thesis Projects

Honors Program students conclude their Saint Mary’s experience by designing, executing and presenting an original thesis or capstone project 

Your Thesis Project is your third Honors Contract: the same deadlines, forms and requirements apply

If your program already requires a thesis or capstone project, you will not be required to complete another one for the Honors Program. You will, however, be required to submit an Honors Thesis Proposal by the appropriate deadline, to submit an electronic copy of the finished thesis to Honors Program, and to give a formal presentation at one of several possible venues including:

  • State, regional or national Honors Conference (read our newsletters for calls for application)
  • Undergraduate conference in the student’s field (ask your professors for recommendation)
  • Saint Mary’s Spring Symposium (organized every May)
  • Departmental or School Thesis Showcase (some programs have their own panels)

Thesis or capstone projects must be approved by the Honors Program Director to fulfill graduation requirements for the Honors Program.

If you wish to receive academic credit for a capstone/thesis, you must enroll in your department’s capstone/thesis course. If you are enrolled in a program that does not require a capstone/thesis you may a) enroll in an Honors Independent Study or b) enroll in a related programs’s thesis course. 

Keys to Success

Start Early

Begin to brainstorm possible thesis projects no later than the spring of your junior year and utilize thesis workshops to solidify and focus your ideas.

Cultivate relationships with mentors and advisors:

In your junior year you should begin to seek a primary and a secondary reader for your thesis.  Your primary reader will also be your mentor and should be a full-time faculty member versed in your discipline, willing to advise you in the planning and proposal stages, as well as the in execution and documentation of the project. The secondary reader will be responsible only for assessing the finished product. If your capstone project integrates more than one areas, the second reader might be chosen for their expertise in this other area.

If you are pursuing a Social Justice Emphasis (SJE), you must begin identifying, contacting, and forming relationships with the constituency with whom you will be working by the spring of your junior year.  Utilize resources on campus (CILSA, Mission and Ministry, the Career Center etc.) to help you contact willing organizations. 

Craft a Detailed Proposal

Like your Honors Contract Proposals, your Thesis Proposal must articulate a clear and focused objective, a series of assessable outcomes, and a well-considered, detailed methodology appropriate to the discipline. Don’t be afraid to integrate an allied discipline (math with history for example) when constructing your proposal.  Also feel free to integrate internship, research, work experience as well as coursework into your project, and to use your contract courses to explore possible areas of interest.

Creative Thesis Projects

All creative thesis/capstone projects (e.g., novels, choreographed shows, play productions, fine art exhibitions) must also meet the academic demands of a traditional thesis. Therefore, the same template may be used for creative thesis/capstone projects.

Get Feedback Throughout

Use your mentors as sounding boards for your ideas, frustrations and inspirations.  Share your experiences with your fellow Honors students and you are always welcome to speak with the Honors Program Director about any concerns you have.