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Department of Justice Studies - Guidelines for JUST 499 Students


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 Guidelines for JUST 499 Students

You are reading this because you are considering writing an honors thesis. If you choose to do so, it will provide some of the most satisfying aspects of your academic experience at JMU. It will also provide some of your most frustrating academic moments. To maximize your benefits and minimize the low points, the Justice Studies department has created guidelines for this three-semester process. It is a long road, but it can be well worth travelling if you can resolve two of the most persistent challenges facing thesis writers.

First, thesis students are tempted in various ways to tackle too much. Focusing your thesis is not a path to triviality. Instead, it is the most feasible path to an in-depth analysis of important elements of the issues that drove you to choose a thesis topic.

Second, for most thesis writers, this is their first long, multi-chapter project. This can be intimidating and the “blank page syndrome” is a tough hole to confront. The only way out of that problem is to write. Even if the rough drafts of chapters seem flawed to you, they are the best route to a satisfying thesis. If you leave it all to a “big push,” your final product will suffer. In addition, the (unwritten) thesis will nag at you on and off. Avoid spoiling the last semester of your JMU career by following the guidelines below.

Honors Option:

1) Contact the faculty member who teaches the course you wish to make an Honors Option during the semester prior to registering for the course.
As an Honors student, it is necessary to discuss with the faculty member why you want a specific course to serve as an Honors Option and what you hope to achieve in your advancement in the Honors College. In addition, you will need to provide an example of scholarly work that best reflects your abilities and interests. (Faculty members are not required to approve to your request.

2) If you are approved to complete the Honors Option you will need to complete the following documents:

  1. An Honors Option Contract, indicative of this agreement. Due date: Submit to the Honors College no later than the end of the second week of the semester in which you will take this Honors Option.


  1. An Honors Option Proposal, detailing the requirements you will have to fulfill. Due date: No later than the end of the fourth week of the semester you’re taking the Honors Option.

These documents should preferably be submitted by the end of the semester prior to the one in which you will take your Honors Course option.

Honors Theses:

As an Honors Students you are required to complete a Senior Honors Project. The process for fulfilling this capstone requirement consists of:

1)      Begin thinking about your Senior Honors Project during the second semester of your sophomore year. By the end of the first semester of your junior year you will need to have some specific ideas regarding what type of project you wish to pursue, have begun conducting preliminary research, and if you plan to work with human participants, you will need IRB approval .

2)      Contact Dr. Hastedt ( for permission to enroll in JUST 499A.

3)      Register for JUST 499A during the second semester of your junior year.  You must also register for JUST 399.  

4)      If needed, IRB approval must be received no later than the end of JUST 499B, or the first semester of your senior year.

Students must meet the designated writing targets for their honors theses each semester in order to continue in the sequence.  Successful completion of the Senior Honors Project fulfills your Senior Seminar requirement (JUST 400). Further information about departmental Honors requirements can be found here: