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 Theses:

As an Honors Student 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. Plass 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 on our website.

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