Oral Defense

The oral defense is required of all students who complete the thesis/project. The members of the committee are selected by the student and the faculty adviser. Names of the committee members must be submitted to the Honors College by the end of the first semester the student is registered for thesis hours.

The oral defense should be held at least thirty days prior to the student’s graduation date. The student should remember, however, that the defense cannot take place unless the committee members have received a copy of the thesis manuscript at least a week prior to the anticipated defense date; some committee members prefer an even longer review period. The defense committee members should receive their copies only AFTER the thesis advisor has indicated that the thesis is ready to be defended. 

It should be emphasized that the copy of the thesis presented to the defense committee is the penultimate copy. The final copy will be prepared after the defense so that committee members may make corrections, suggest changes, and generally point out areas that might need additional attention. The student should meet with the advisor shortly after the defense to discuss suggested revisions and should secure the advisor’s approval of the final version.

At the defense, the student normally opens with an overview statement of the purpose, method, and results of the thesis (15- 20 minutes). Committee members then ask questions, usually in turn, in what turns out to be a relatively informal and lively exchange of ideas, lasting an average of an hour and a half. A student passes with no more than one negative vote. The thesis, as with all Honors coursework, is letter-graded, and the committee may suggest an appropriate letter grade for the student’s work; however, the thesis adviser is responsible for determining and submitting the student's grade.

Download the Oral Defense Form

The defense itself may be held in a room in the Honors College or in a suitable room in the building of the student’s major. Please contact the Honors College to reserve a room in Johnson Hall.