The Honors Thesis

An honors thesis provides an opportunity to deepen skills and knowledge in an area in which the student has already demonstrated the ability to produce distinguished work. 

Honors Program Details

The Honors Thesis

An honors thesis in the Department of Theater provides an opportunity to deepen skills and knowledge in an area in which the student has already demonstrated the ability to produce distinguished work. Students who have completed at least five major courses and who have an average in the major of 3.4 or higher (and a College average of 3.0 or higher) are eligible to apply for the Honors Program. Students with modified as well as standard majors may apply. An Honors project normally extends through two terms and receives two major credits. Possible honors projects include:

  • a written thesis or substantial piece of writing for a performance such as a full-length play
  • a realized production and supporting paper
  • a design project or portfolio and supporting materials

Honors program details

Proposing an honors thesis

    **NOTE: The deadline for Class of 2019 preliminary honors proposals will be 5:00 pm on Friday May 18, 2018**

    Students should work closely with their major advisor to develop their Honors Thesis proposal. As part of the application process, students must submit a detailed proposal to the Theater Department for approval. Students hoping to be accepted into the Honors program must submit a preliminary proposal (more information below) to their major advisor and the department Chair by mid-May of their junior year; once a preliminary proposal has been received, the due date for a final proposal will be determined. Proposals will be evaluated based on the originality and depth of the project, the quality of the proposal, and the student’s prior record of accomplishment.

    Students who prepare for an Honors project by pursuing approved courses of advanced independent study may, with approval of the Department, be allowed to complete the project (thesis) in one term. Students in the Honors Program must complete the ten courses required for the standard or modified major; the Honors credits are in addition to the ten-course major. Students may complete the ten-course major simultaneously with the Honors thesis: the ten-course major does not necessarily have to be completed before the honors work has begun.

    For reference, students may view our PDF iconHonors Thesis proposal template. Examples of successful honors thesis proposals are also available from the Department's Academic Assistant. For additional information, students should consult with Chair of the Department of Theater.


    The preliminary proposal is an opportunity for the Faculty to provide the Honors candidate with feedback on their ideas in the spring of their junior year, in order to help them develop a more complete proposal during the summer. The Department does not vote on preliminary proposals; we understand and expect that your concept and plans will not yet be fully defined at this early stage.

    Preliminary proposals should include the following:

    • A description of your project
    • A project rationale, built around the following questions:
      • why are you proposing this project?
      • Where does the project sit within the context of your overall educational goals?
      • How will this project both build upon your academic experiences and also challenge you in new and unique ways?
      • Why does this project require an honors thesis (two-term) commitment versus other production or curricular opportunities? 
    • An estimate of the resources that your project will require (number of actors, director, space requirements, etc).

    A typical preliminary proposal is between two and three pages in length. Preliminary proposals should be developed in conversation with a faculty member who could ultimately serve as an advisor for the project.


    Past Honors Thesis Projects

    The following examples of theses were selected to show the range of what theater students have accomplished through our honors program. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the many remarkable projects our students have accomplished over the years.

    • Julie Solomon ’17: Away This Night, a fully-produced production conceived, designed, and co-directed by Solomon. Inspired by immersive and feminist theatre traditions, the project was a study of the intersections of gender identity, gender presentation, race, sexuality, and ability in physical space. The performance on the Moore Stage moved throughout three built environments designed by Solomon, taking the audience on a journey through the worlds of As You Like It, Twelfth Night, and The Merchant of Venice.
    • Carene Mekertichyan ’15: a fully produced production of For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange. Mekertichyan served as the dramaturg and assistant director; she also performed the role of the Lady in Red. As part of her dramaturgical research, Mekertichyan compiled a production history of the play and studied contemporary black performance theory to inform her understandings of how this play, originally premiered in 1974, speaks to the present.
    • Stew Towle ’12: “Walt 1855 - Performing a Democratic Poetics: A Work of the American Bard Project”.  This project consisted of two components: 1) a performance installation text that explored the theatricality and vision of Whitman's 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, 2) an academic thesis that addressed the theatricality of Whitman’s poetry and the radical democracy of his vision, as well as a theoretical analysis of his own performance installation.  
    • Matthew Cohn ’08: “An Ethics of Acting: Alain Badiou, The Character-Subject and the American Method.”  This academic thesis used the philosophy of Alain Badiou as a theoretical lens to examine and interpret the writings of Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler and Sanford Meisner, focusing on how they approach the task of creating a character as a discrete—though fictional—truth-producing subject.