University of Vermont

College Honors

Guidelines for Honors Research Proposals

The proposal submitted with the application for College Honors should be concise, clearly written and thoughtful. Each proposal should include a statement defining the inquiry, an explanation of the methodology to be utilized, a description of the role of related and supporting research, and a section regarding the significance of the proposed work in relation to current knowledge. As the Honors Committee may not include a specialist in your field, you should avoid technical jargon. Your ability to carry out Honors research successfully is judged, in large part, by the quality of the proposal.

Examples of previously accepted proposals are available.

Formatting the proposal

The entire proposal must not exceed 8 pages (including any tables and figures but excluding references) and should either be a Microsoft Word readable document (.doc, .docx, .txt, .rtf) or an Acrobat PDF (.pdf). Proposals should be double-spaced, set in 12 point Times New Roman font, and have 1-inch margins top and bottom and 1.5-inch margins left and right. The Honors Committee will not read past page 8.

Email your proposal to with your name in the subject line of the message.

Applicants are strongly advised not to send files larger than 3 megabytes. If you have concerns about the size of your proposal submission, please contact Dana Christiansen in the CAS Dean's Office

Contents of the proposal

The proposal must contain each of the following components, clearly labeled:

  1. Title
  2. Abstract: Give a short summary (no more than 100 words) of your project and its significance.
  3. Description of the Project: Explain the question you hope to answer and what it is you hope to accomplish.
  4. Previous Work: Explain the status of work in this field. Explain what other scholars or artists have accomplished in this area to date.
  5. Significance: Explain why your project is important. Explain what original contributions you hope to make beyond the existing work reviewed above. Explain the relevance of your project to the previous research in this subject area.
  6. Proposed Methodology: Explain how you will proceed. Explain how you will collect and analyze your data or materials. Explain how you will interpret your results. This is an extremely important section of the proposal. It is imperative that it be detailed and well constructed. Timetables, schedules, and budgets (where appropriate) are helpful.
  7. References: Include any references cited in the proposal and any important works that you expect to use during your research. Reviewers may check your references for literature widely understood to be foundational in your field.
Proposal writing in wider perspective

Proposal writing can be challenging, but it is a vital skill within many academic fields and in many careers. Most internal and external granting bodies, review boards, and programs of graduate study will require proposal writing at some point in their process. Proposal-writers often find that for a single project they must write multiple proposals for a single project tailored for multiple kinds of agencies. For that reason, the committee believes that the crafting of the proposal itself is a valuable exercise, and will evaluate submitted proposals in this light.

Evaluation Criteria

In general, the criteria used by the Committee to evaluate the thesis proposals may include, by are not limited to, the following:

  • shows excellent writing skills;
  • understands the project's relevance to the field of study and beyond;
  • will be able to apply theories and methods of research, analysis, or interpretation, or artistic techniques as appropriate to the field;
  • has cited appropriate sources;
  • is able to examine critically the work of other scholars or artists and relate that work to the thesis;
  • shows evidence of promise to contribute original research, ideas, knowledge, interpretations, or creative expression at a level appropriate for undergraduate study, such that the thesis goes beyond describing existing work.

For revisions, please see FAQs.

Rejected Proposals

If a student’s thesis proposal is rejected, the student may ask the Committee to reconsider its decision. A student whose proposal was rejected is not barred from submitting a new thesis proposal the next semester, but must in such a case indicate whether a previous version of the proposal was rejected, and if so, what changes were made in response to the Committee’s comments. If the thesis is to be completed in less than two semesters, it is also the student’s responsibility to present in the new proposal a carefully constructed timeline for the remaining thesis work and its completion. The thesis supervisor should indicate in a special memo to the Committee that the timeline is feasible and that the student can be reasonably expected to have the work completed in the allocated timeframe.

Last modified January 28 2014 10:58 AM

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