Urban Studies

Honors Thesis

The Urban Studies Honors Program is intended for students who have been highly successful in their Urban Studies concentration coursework and who want the opportunity to pursue a research project in more depth than is possible in an undergraduate seminar.


Such a project requires a high degree of initiative and dedication. It also requires significant amounts of time and energy, as well as demonstrated skills in research and writing. It can be one of the most challenging, and rewarding, experiences of an undergraduate’s career. The skills that students gain and demonstrate in writing an honors thesis — including conceptualizing, researching, organizing, and writing — are valued by many employers and graduate programs.

Metrocables in Medellín, Colombia
Metrocables in Medellín, Colombia

Past Honors Theses

Past theses are available to all Urban Studies students for research use.

10 Steps to the Honors Thesis

  1. Contact a professor to serve as your Honor's Advisor.
  2. Attend the series of informational workshops hosted by the Program in the Fall and Spring of your junior year and review the Guide to Writing an Honors Thesis in Urban Studies.
  3. Complete the online Honors Thesis Application by the spring deadline.
  4. Start your research in the summer before senior year. See funding opportunities here.
  5. Register for URBN 1981 Honors Thesis Workshop in Urban Studies (Fall-S/NC)) and URBN 1972 Senior Honors Thesis II in Urban Studies (Spring-Grade).
  6. In the fall and spring, meet with your Honors Thesis Advisor on a regular schedule.
  7. Confirm your Second Reader, if you haven't already.
  8. Attend monthly group meetings with your peers.
  9. Follow the timetable to meet all deadlines.
  10. Submit signed thesis to the Academic Program Manager in April of senior year.


All students who concentrate in Urban Studies take ten courses from the Introductory, Research Methods, Core, Seminar, and Complementary curriculum list to fulfill the concentration requirements. However, for qualified students interested in conducting a substantial independent research project in their senior year, the Urban Studies Program offers the option of an Honors Thesis in Urban Studies.

Twelve courses are required of an Honors concentrator — i.e., two in addition to the ten courses required of a regular concentrator. During the fall and spring of the senior year, honors candidates must complete URBN 1981 Honors Thesis Workshop in Urban Studies (mandatory S/NC) and URBN 1972 Senior Honors Thesis II in Urban Studies (mandatory grade).

In both courses, intensive reading, research, and writing under the direction of the faculty advisor occurs. Mandatory attendance at periodic meetings during the semester is required. To receive an Honors degree, the candidate's thesis and course record must be of outstanding quality.


Students must apply to the honors program by the middle of the second semester of their junior year. (This applies to students who will complete degree requirements in December, as well as in May.) To be eligible to apply for honors, a student's academic record in the Urban Studies Program must include a majority of A's (3.8 GPA) in required Urban Studies courses. The student's application for honors must include a statement describing a proposal for a research project to be carried out in the senior year. The application must be countersigned by the faculty member who is to serve as the student's honors advisor. All applications will be reviewed by a faculty committee and the Director of Urban Studies Program. Students whose applications are approved for the program will be notified by the end of the second semester of their junior year. In addition, students can apply for competitive research funding.

2023-2024 Honors Thesis Application    Research Funding Application

Writing the Thesis

The thesis advisor works closely with the student on his/her project. By the end of the first month of the senior year, the honors candidate will be required to arrange with one additional faculty member to serve as reader. The honors candidate will submit a completed draft of the thesis to the faculty advisor and the second reader by the middle of the second semester of the student's senior year. The final draft is due mid-April.

Honors Thesis Schedule

This schedule is intended to help students pace themselves over the senior year. Students and advisors should meet regularly, at least monthly, and may work out a timetable that best suits them. The university’s Office of the Registrar dictates certain deadlines toward the end of the second semester which are inflexible and mandatory.

2022-23 Urban Studies Honors Thesis Schedule for Completion

  • Register for URBN 1981 Honors Thesis Workshop
  • Attend classes with the honors instructor and other honors students. Meet with your advisor and reader. Advisor shall review summer research and suggest additional primary sources and secondary works, beyond those identified in the proposal. Review methods to be used to answer the research question. Continue with research conducted over the summer.

Submit a tentative outline of each chapter. Identify issues to be examined and sources to be consulted. Submit detailed outline of a chapter. Continue research if necessary.


Submit final outline of thesis and a bibliography. Clarify the argument you will make.


Submit first chapter draft. Finish research.

  • Register for URBN 1972 in your thesis advisor's section
  • Submit second chapter draft to advisor. Be sure you are enrolled in URBN 1972 Senior Honors Thesis II (grade).

Submit third chapter draft.


Submit draft of any remaining sections (e.g. introduction and conclusion, another chapter, sections of previous drafts that have needed considerable revisions, etc.) to advisor.

  • First week of April - Submit a full draft of the entire thesis to advisor.

  • Mid-April - Submit the finished thesis to advisor and second reader.

  • Late April - Submit the bound and signed thesis to Urban Studies department.



  • Early May - Deadline for advisors to submit a written evaluation of the thesis to the Urban Studies Program Director (specific date TBA). 
  • First Friday in May - Department recommendations due to the Dean of the College office, along with the Honors and Capstone Presentations (specific date TBA).

Cover Sheet

Your thesis should be submitted to the department with a cover sheet that bears the signature of your advisor, your reader, and the Program Director. Be certain to leave enough time to collect signatures before you need to submit the final copy.

Download the cover sheet

This sheet should be signed before you have your thesis bound. The original signature sheet should be included with the thesis when it is delivered to the printer for duplication and binding.