University of Vermont

The Honors College

HCOL 101 - Thesis Prep Course

HCOL 101 Thesis Prep Course Syllabus (pdf)

Beginning in the Fall of 2010, the Honors College has offered a thesis preparation course,  HCOL 101, to all HCOL students in the Junior year. (Please note that "Junior year," as we're referring to it here, means the two semesters before your [two-semester] graduating year--in other words, it is typically, but not necessarily, your third full year of college.)

HCOL 101 is required for students in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education and Social Services. It is highly recommended for students in the remaining colleges and schools.

The aim of HCOL 101 is to provide HCOL students from every college and school on campus with consistent advising on preparing for the thesis project, and to maintain some of the intellectual community they've formed in their first and/or sophomore years in the HCOL. The course also seeks to "demystify" the thesis process, and this course will help reassure students of the manageable scope of the thesis process.

The course, taught by Ann Kroll-Lerner, the Undergraduate Research Coordinator in the Honors College, consists of five 90-minute sessions over the semester: four at the beginning of the semester, and then one after mid-semester. The early sessions concentrate mainly on general but valuable advising information: What is a thesis project? How do you find your advisor? What resources exist on campus to help you execute the project (reference librarians, funding, etc)? How do you write a literature review? How do you craft a thesis proposal? How do you get permission to do human or animal subjects research. Students then spend several weeks working through the process of formulating a proposal (finding an advisor, identifying a research question, working on a literature review), and then meet again in one session after mid-semester to participate in an organized peer review of the documents each student will produce, the Thesis Pre-Proposal Memorandum.

The memorandum each student prepares in this course does not necessarily conform to the exact proposal requirements for their home school or college. It does, however, include key components of any successful thesis proposal. What students take away from this class will be the elements they will need to then craft thesis proposals in their specific academic units.

Each Thesis Proposal Memorandum (comprising no more than 8 pages) will include the following elements:

1.    Title and Advisor.
2.    Abstract: a short summary of project and its significance.
3.    Descriptive narrative of project: Explain the question or problem being addressed, and what you hope to demonstrate with your research.
4.    Significance: Explain why this project is important, including how you hope to offer an original contribution to addressing the problem being studied.
5.    Literature Review: Provide a short literature review of at least 10 published scholarly works addressing this topic. Explain what each of these scholars have accomplished in addressing this topic to date, and how their work relates to your own proposed thesis.
6.    Methodology: Explain how you will approach your study.

The table that follows contains information about whether or not HCOL 101 is required or recommended by the colleges and schools. (Even in cases where the course is recommended, the units have made it clear that the course is strongly recommended.) The table also indicates which semester of the junior year each college would prefer their students to take the course, as well as whether students will sign up to take the course for 0 or 1 credit. Please note that, with the exception of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, all the colleges are able to exercise some flexibility in the matter of which semester students should take the course. And certainly students planning to study abroad for a semester of their Junior year should take the course in the semester they are at UVM, regardless of the recommendation noted on the table. (NOTE: students planning to study abroad for the entire Junior year should let Patty Redmond know ASAP so that the HCOL can make appropriate arrangements for communicating the information necessary for the thesis proposal process.)

Any questions about HCOL 101 should be directed to either Patty Redmond or Lisa Schnell in the Honors College.

Fall HCOL 101 Thesis Prep Course
College or School Required or Recommended? Spring or Fall? Credits
Arts & Sciences Required Either 1
Education & Social Services Required Either 1
Agriculture & Life Sciences Recommended Either 0
Engineering & Mathematics Recommended Fall 0
Nursing & Health Sciences Recommended Fall 0
School of Business Recommended Spring 1
Rubenstein School of Natural Resources Recommended Either 1

Last modified July 11 2013 04:13 PM