Students who successfully complete a senior honors thesis will have the designation “honors” or “highest honors” printed beside their names in the Commencement bulletin and recorded on their diplomas and transcripts.
Additionally, the Douglas Eyre Prize is awarded to the author of the best Global Studies thesis each year.Honors Thesis Application
Junior Global Studies majors with a minimum GPA in the major of 3.5 and cumulative GPA of 3.3 are eligible to apply*.
*See eligibility note below.
An honors thesis is a substantial piece of original research. Students are engaged in creating their own academic scholarship. The intent of the thesis is to pose and answer a unique research question, or to shed new light on a topic that has previously received scholarly attention. It requires excellent time management skills and discipline, as it is a very self-directed process.
Most theses run 60-100+ pages and cite 20-50+ sources, so on top of the writing, there is a substantial amount of background research that goes into the thesis.
The thesis process may also involve travel, interviews, or other data collection and analysis, depending on a student’s topic and methodology.
Writing an honors thesis is something students need to be 100 percent committed to doing.
Prospective honors students are encouraged to look at theses from past years to get an idea of what the final product encompasses. Past theses are housed in the suite of the curriculum in Global Studies and are also available at the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library. Abstracts of recent theses are available via the Honors Program’s archive.
Steps to Receiving Honors
Thesis Topics and Advisors
The first task for a prospective honors student is to identify a thesis topic . Students are encouraged to consider integrating a study abroad into honors work, as it provides an excellent opportunity for research that can be used for an honors thesis.
Once a topic has been chosen, the next step is to identify a potential thesis adviser. Any member of the UNC-Chapel Hill faculty is eligible to serve as a thesis adviser, as are retired faculty and post-doctoral fellows. Graduate students cannot serve as advisers . While the thesis adviser may come from any department at UNC, the adviser’s area of expertise should be consistent with the topic of the student’s thesis.
Note: Potential faculty members advisors do not need to have agreed to serve as advisers by this point.
After identifying potential advisors, the prospective honors student must submit a two-to-three page prospectus in the spring of junior year.
- A brief description of the general theme or topic about which you wish to write. Please indicate both a geographical/country focus, as well as a substantive one. Consider the question that you are trying to answer or puzzle you are trying to solve in your answer.
- A brief discussion of the genesis of your interest in the topic. Was it a course you took? A study abroad experience? Some combination?
- If possible, comment briefly on the kinds of sources you intend to rely upon and whether you want to interview people relevant to the subject matter.
- Identify two faculty members (including your thesis adviser) who you know work on issues related to your thesis topic. Neither of the faculty members need to have agreed yet to serve as readers before you submit your prospectus. If you have not already taken courses with a professor whose expertise meshes with your area of interest, consider exploring the websites of other departments, which often include lists of faculty members and their research interests.
Applying To The Honors Seminar
Upon acceptance into the honors program, a student will need to submit an academic advising worksheet, updated through the end of the most recent spring semester, so that their in-major GPA can be verified. Enrollment in GLBL 691H, the first semester of the mandatory honors thesis sequence, is not allowed until this document has been received .
Prospective honors students then must enroll in GLBL 691H during the fall semester of senior year, unless studying abroad that semester. If abroad for the fall semester of senior year, students may petition for waived mandatory enrollment in GLBL 691H from the director of undergraduate studies.
In the following spring semester, honors students will enroll in GLBL 692H and defend their thesis .
GLBL 691H will be offered in Fall 2023 on Tuesdays, 2:00-4:30pm in GEC 3033, taught by Dr. Jonathan Weiler.
The year-long honors seminar is composed of two 3-credit courses: GLBL 691H (taken in the fall of students’ senior year) and GLBL 692H (taken in the spring of students’ senior year).
Students may receive three hours of major credit (as either a theme or area course) for GLBL 692H if they request and the thesis is appropriate to the theme or area for which they’re trying to receive credit. GLBL 691H only counts as elective credit.
The seminar director expects each student to produce a rough draft of about two-thirds of the thesis in the first semester. The second semester will be devoted to finishing the rough draft, rewriting, and finalizing the thesis, as well as preparing for the oral defense of the thesis. The oral defense must be completed by early April for May graduates; the exact deadline will be provided to students enrolled in the seminar. The defense will take place before the student’s honors committee, composed of his or her adviser and a second reader. The committee will determine whether the student should receive highest honors, honors, or course credit only.
Honors Project Research FundingHonors Carolina offers financial awards to support senior honors thesis research. There are two funding cycles per year, with proposal deadlines in Fall and Spring. The March funding cycle makes funding awards to students whose projects are sufficiently well-planned that they could begin work over the summer before their senior year. Award funds may be used to support any legitimate cost directly connected to the undertaking of the honors project. Students must meet the honors minimum cumulative GPA requirement of 3.3 to apply for an award. Projects with an international dimension may qualify for a supplemental award of up to $500 from the Center for Global Initiatives. Please check the Honors Carolina website for more information. Funding is also available through the Office for Undergraduate Research.
Past Honors Theses
- Read the 2022 winning thesis , “Hard Choices and Centering Voices: Healthcare Access for Human Trafficking Survivors in the United Kingdom” by Ashley Wade
- Read the 2021 winning thesis , “Musical Textures of Migration: Music’s Role in the Syrian Refugee Experience in Germany” by Cameron Ward
- Read the 2020 winning thesis , “New Becomings in the Aftermath of Destruction: The Untold Stories of Syrian Women in Zaatari Refugee Camp” by Aisha Jitan
- Read the 2019 winning thesis , “Working to Heal White Supremacy: Spiritual Ontologies and Anti-Racism Activism” by Sunny Osment
- Read the 2018 winning thesis , “Building Walls and Breaking Laws: An Analysis of the European Union’s Failure to Address the Migrant Crisis” by Allyson Barkley
- Read the 2017 winning thesis , “Resistance and Resilience: Grassroots Peace Activism in Colombia” by Manuela Nivia
Note Regarding Eligibility
Students with cumulative GPAs below 3.3 but for whom it is mathematically possible to achieve a 3.3 by the end of the first semester of the honors seminar may be allowed to provisionally enroll in GLBL 691H. These students must petition the Assistant Dean for Honors, Dr. Gabriela Valdivia, for permission to enroll in the seminar. If a student’s cumulative GPA drops below 3.3 or if a provisional student fails to meet the 3.3 standard at the close of the semester in which GLBL 691H is taken, that student will not be allowed to enroll in GLBL 692H and will not be eligible to graduate with honors. This is a university-wide rule, and there are no exceptions. Such students will receive course credit for the work completed, and may be allowed to continue their projects as independent study, with the approval of the Global Studies Director of Undergraduate Studies.
For further information, contact Dr. Jonathan Weiler, Director of Undergraduate Studies.