Honors Thesis


Who is eligible to write an IAS Senior Honors Thesis?

In order to write an IAS Senior Honors Thesis, you must have declared IAS as your prime major, and you must satisfy the minimum GPA requirement detailed below.

What is the minimum GPA requirement?

Per the College of Arts & Sciences, you must have a cumulative overall GPA of 3.65 by the end of your sixth semester, and this GPA must be maintained throughout your senior year, in order to write an honors thesis. You should not embark on a thesis unless you confidently expect to meet the minimum GPA requirements outlined above. If your cumulative GPA is below 3.65, we encourage you to consider an independent research project.


Do I have to find a thesis advisor?

You must write your thesis under the direction of a Washington University faculty advisor (not necessarily a member of the IAS faculty). It is advised that you begin meeting with potential faculty advisors in your sophomore year. This will give you plenty of time to develop a relationship with your advisor and, if you haven’t already, take a class with them before you begin your thesis. Your thesis advisor should be someone with whom you have worked, in a class or other setting, as the best theses investigate questions that interest both the student and the advisor and, therefore, arise out of conversations between them.

How do I find a thesis advisor?

You may find your major advisor or 4-year advisor can be helpful in suggesting possible thesis advisors, but it is ultimately up to you to identify your advisor. You should come up with a preliminary proposal on your own, and then go see your prospective advisor in person. If you are abroad during your sophomore or junior year, you may contact advisors and faculty by email, but ideally you will have raised the topic before you leave for study abroad (so you might conduct research for your thesis while you are abroad).

Thesis Requirements

How long is a thesis?

The written thesis length varies by discipline; your individual page requirement will be set by your advisor. The page count includes the title page, table of contents, main article, and bibliography. Maps, charts, and other non-text pages do not count toward the required page length


Copies of your completed thesis draft are due to your thesis advisor and the thesis committee during the first week of March. Any thesis not turned in by this date will automatically be ineligible for Latin Honors. You and your thesis advisor may negotiate deadlines for the production of individual chapters as you see fit; however, you should submit a minimum of 1/3 of the thesis before the start of winter break, if you plan to present your thesis at the IAS conference and graduate in the spring. Please see below for a complete list of thesis-related deadlines.

Junior Year

Second Friday in April:  Deadline to declare your intent to write an honors thesis by completing intent FORM and submitting it to IAS. You must have your thesis advisor secured at this time. [For those students graduating in December, the deadline for the intent form is the second Friday in November of their junior year.]

Intent Form

Senior Year

Second Friday in December: Minimum 1/3 of thesis submitted to thesis advisor.

Early February: Confirmation of thesis presentation date due to Prof. Seth Graebner, the thesis committee, and Mrs. Toni Loomis.

March 19: Final draft of thesis submitted to thesis advisor and the thesis committee. Any thesis not turned in by this date will automatically be ineligible for Latin Honors.

March 30: Thesis presentations to the IAS thesis committee, rather than a thesis defense. IAS will not certify a thesis for honors before the presentation, and certification must be made prior to the A&S honors certification deadline (this deadline usually falls around April 1st).

April 6: IAS Honors Thesis conference.

April 15: Deadline to submit the final bound and revised version of your thesis. You should turn in two copies: one directly to your thesis advisor and one to Mrs. Toni Loomis (McMillan 254).

Course Credit

What courses do I register for to get credit for my thesis work?

Fall Semester

For fall of your senior year, enroll in Preparation for IAS Honors Thesis L97 485, sec. 01. Required for IAS senior thesis writers, this course addreses the methods and mechanics of research and writing in IAS, concurrently with independent work with the thesis adviser. The seminar provides structure, guidance, and response to your work. Students will already have identified a thesis topic; in the seminar, they will identify a research question and develop a thesis proposal. In workshop format, students will examine one another's research questions, hypotheses, and methods of analysis. In additional sessions, students will learn the basics of several models of electronically assisted research, and they will develop and refine presentation skills through the presentations of their proposals and results at various stages of progress. Attendance is required.

Spring Semester

Enroll in IAS Senior Honors Thesis L97 486 sec. XX, where the section number is unique to your thesis advisor. While this course earns you 3 credits, those may not be counted toward the IAS major requirements. The course involves intensive research leading to the completion of your IAS honors thesis conducted under the supervision and guidance of a faculty sponsor. 

What are the prerequisites for these courses?

Prerequisites: 1) a GPA of 3.65 at the time of application to the thesis program; 2) the identification of a thesis adviser; and 3) the approval of the IAS Honors Program Director.