Honors Thesis

What is an Honors Thesis?

An honors thesis is a year-long research project completed during the senior year. Neuroscience majors are not required to do an honors thesis. Successful completion of an honors thesis qualifies the student to graduate with departmental and university honors and is required for candidates for the degrees of summa cum laude and magna cum laude in Newcomb College or Tulane College. For specific information about the requirements for graduating with Honors, contact the Honors Program, 105 Hébert Hall, 504-865-5517.

An empirical research project is required for an Honors Thesis in Neuroscience. An empirical research project includes the design, implementation, analysis, and write-up of an original experiment that tests a specific scientific hypothesis. Non-laboratory projects, such as papers based solely on library research, clinical internships, or community service activities, do not meet the standards of an Honors Thesis in Neuroscience. Completion of an Honors Thesis in Neuroscience requires two full semesters, typically conducted during the senior year. A student should only attempt an Honor Thesis in Neuroscience under the guidance of a faculty member with whom Independent Study has been pursued during one or more previous semesters.

Note: No student may receive academic credit for research activities if that student receives a salary or stipend for those activities. This policy applies to research conducted during the academic year and during the summer.

How do I sign up to do an Honors Thesis?

No later than the spring of your junior year, you should select a Neuroscience faculty member to serve as your thesis director. You might begin by approaching one of your instructors, or your Neuroscience major advisor. You also should review the list of Neuroscience research faculty, to learn about the research interests of the Neuroscience faculty members.

Students should be aware that space in faculty laboratories is limited. Thus, students are strongly encouraged to contact the faculty member well before the end of the spring semester of their junior year. Once the faculty member has agreed to serve as the thesis director, make plans with him or her to carry out preliminary work for the thesis during the spring or summer before the senior year.

Students should sign up for Honors Thesis credit, NSCI 4990 in the fall, and NSCI 5000 in the spring, of the senior year. You should go to the Honors Program Office (105 Hébert Hall) to pick up the guidelines and schedule well in advance of your registration for an honors thesis. Students who are doing an Honor's Thesis will need to fill out the Tulane Honor's Thesis and Neuroscience Honor's Thesis forms.  The Honors Thesis Registration form can be picked up in the Neuroscience office, Stern 2013. The completed forms should be turned in to Sherrie Calogero or Peter J. Bowling, 2013 Stern Hall, who will provide a section number and sign off on the form.   For additional information, look at the honors program and the honors thesis web pages (

Near the beginning of the first semester, the student must submit a prospectus to the Honors Program that has been approved and signed by the thesis director and a second reader. A first progress report, approved and signed by the thesis director, and the second reader during the middle of the first semester, indicates whether the thesis is to be continued or terminated. A second progress report is due at the end of January. A complete draft of the thesis is due to the honors thesis committee a month before the projected date of graduation. The thesis must be completed two weeks before graduation, and the oral examination is held after all other requirements have been met. Second and third readers are responsible for reading and providing commentary on the final version of the honors thesis,  which is submitted to the full thesis committee prior to the oral defense.   Second and third readers are NOT responsible for editing sections of the honors thesis during preparation of the final version.

A schedule of specific dates can be found on the Honor's Program website under the Honor's Thesis section.

Ethics Approval Deadlines

Students must secure prior approval for honors theses from the appropriate ethics committees by the end of the first semester of their senior year. Approval of empirical studies with human subjects or animal subjects must be obtained from the appropriate internal review board. Students should consult with their thesis advisors regarding this process. Review and approval normally requires at least one month. Therefore, it is important that all forms be submitted by the thesis advisor to the appropriate committee NO LATER THAN November 15.

Proposal Approval

Research proposals, submitted in late January to the Honors Program office as the "first chapter," must include an introduction and complete methodology. Before submission to the Honors Program office, the proposal must be approved by a committee comprised of the thesis director, and another faculty member, who will serve as the second reader. The proposal must be approved before the data for the primary study are collected.

Q: Can I complete an honors thesis at the Tulane Medical Center, or at another institution?

A: Yes, however, students must adhere to the same guidelines as those given [below] for Independent Study projects.

Answer given for independent study projects:

Students who wish to perform an independent study project at another institution must have two faculty sponsors: One at the host institution, and one in the Neuroscience Major. The student must obtain prior approval from the Neuroscience sponsor for the project. The sponsor will communicate with the host institution sponsor to make sure that the work being performed meets our major requirements for independent study projects. Also, the grade for the project will be submitted by the Neuroscience sponsor, in consultation with the host institution sponsor.

At the beginning of the project, your host institution sponsor must submit, by letter or e-mail, a description of the project to your Neuroscience sponsor. It is essential that your Neuroscience sponsor and your host institution sponsor communicate with one another to evaluate your final work; otherwise, an incomplete grade may result.

Students may sign up for Independent study credit as NSCI 4910 or NSCI 4920. Independent study forms are available from the Neuroscience Office, 2013 Stern Hall. This form must be completed by the student in consultation with and signed by the faculty member(s) supervising the research. After the completed form is returned to Sherrie in the Neuroscience office, the student will be cleared to add the independent study to his/her schedule.

200 Flower Hall, New Orleans, LA 70118, 504-862-3305