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Undergraduate Program

Guidelines for Child Study and Human Development Honors Thesis

A Senior Honors Thesis gives qualified students an opportunity to extend their work in the field of Child Study and Human Development in a capstone project. The thesis can be an opportunity to get exposure to research, to take on a piece of an ongoing research project, to do a re-analysis of data or to design a less empirically-based project. The honors thesis gives a student an opportunity to get to work closely with a faculty member, and is intended to integrate courses a student has taken throughout the course of the CSHD major and build upon and extend learning in new directions.

The Senior Honors thesis in Child Study and Human Development is a project students take on during their senior year, though the planning for it should begin before the senior year begins. It covers two semesters and students receive two credits. To be eligible to do a Senior Honors Thesis a student must:

  1. have been on the Dean's List at least twice prior to senior year
  2. have at least a 3.4 GPA
  3. write a short proposal during junior year which outlines the thesis topic, methodology and gives a sense of what the literature review will include
  4. find two faculty members to serve on his/her thesis committee as first and second readers. The first reader must be secured by the end of junior year, the second reader can be added later. The first reader must be a member of the Child Study and Human Development faculty; the second reader may be within or outside the department.
  5. make sure that if original research will be conducted that any necessary IRB approval is cleared; IRB approval is also required for students doing analysis based on part of a larger project. Note: if a student is doing work that will or might require IRB approval, it is prudent to meet with a member of the IRB committee to discuss the proposed project, and also to undergo the online training that qualifies a student to undertake a project that will require IRB approval.

The Senior Honors Thesis Proposal

The proposal should contain the following information:

  1. topic of the honors thesis and the research question or questions
  2. some discussion of why the topic is significant with significance being determined by theoretical or methodological issues, topicality, and/or social/political/economic relevance
  3. an outline of sources for the literature review. A literature review is meant to contextualize and situate work within what others have done before.
  4. an outline of the proposed methodology and a proposed data analysis plan
  5. a list of the two or more faculty members who have agreed to serve on the student's thesis committee; the second or third reader can be from outside the department.

Types of projects that can form the basis of a Senior Honors Thesis

There are many types of projects that can form the basis for a Senior Honors Thesis. Case studies, arts-based research, secondary analyses of data, content analyses of children's media/arts and empirical studies might all provide topics that could be pursued.

Timetable for a Senior Honors Thesis

Junior year

  • discuss ideas with potential faculty committee members
  • do preliminary research
  • write thesis proposal (10-20 pages) and submit to committee members
  • meet with committee members to discuss proposal and make any recommended changes
  • Initiate IRB training and review, if applicable

First semester senior year

  • Register for CSHD 198 (This is a two semester commitment; students get a “Y” grade and no credit in the first semester but a letter grade and two credits in the second semester.)
  • finalize methodology
  • write literature review
  • complete IRB review if applicable
  • begin data collection if applicable

Second semester senior year

  • register for CSHD 198
  • complete data collection
  • data analysis
  • writing and editing thesis
  • arrange a one hour defense with all committee members by the third week of April
  • submit a copy of the Senior Honors Thesis to Digital Collections and Archives in Tisch Library before Commencement, and a copy to Eliot-Pearson

At the recommendation of the student's thesis committee, the senior thesis may merit either honors, high honors, or highest honors. These are different from Latin honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, summa cum laude) that are determined by a student's overall GPA.

Students doing an honor's thesis should meet with their subject librarian.


The following forms must be completed and turned in as specified below: