University Scholars, honors students wrap up their senior theses

Miller Carbaugh, a senior University Scholar, works on her senior thesis in Moody Library. | Shae Koharski Multimedia Journalist

By Greta Gould | Reporter

Seniors in the Honors College are hard at work completing their theses for graduation. For the past year and a half, seniors have been writing and perfecting their theses in order to defend them and present them this spring.

The Honors College is home to two programs, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (BIC) and the Honors Program, and two majors, Great Texts and University Scholars.

Students in the Honors Program and University Scholars are required to write a senior thesis in order to graduate. The goal of the thesis is “providing students with deep and sustained research and writing opportunities appropriate to the discipline,” according to the University Scholars website.

Great Falls, Va., senior Miller Carbaugh is a student in the Honors Program and University Scholars. According to Carbaugh, students are required to choose a topic for their thesis during the fall of their junior year. Then they work to complete chapters of their thesis throughout the year in order to have a complete thesis by the spring of their senior year.

Students are able to work with an advisor, who will help them throughout the process of picking a topic, finding sources to help narrow down the topic and help keep students on track in the research and writing process, Carbaugh said. She said these advisors are chosen by meeting with professors in order to determine who would be the best fit for what the student intends to write about.

“He or she gives you a reading list for initial books to research and narrow down a topic, and then you can start narrowing your topic down to a more specific idea,” she said.

Carbaugh started with the “broad topic” of ethical usages of nuclear weapons and then narrowed it down after reading about Augustine’s just war tradition to ethical use of nuclear weapons based around Augustine’s just war tradition, she said.

Each thesis ranges from around 40 pages to over 100 pages, depending on the topic, Carbaugh said. The topics and concepts behind each thesis also range from things such as novels, a series of paintings, poems or anything else which may pertain to a student’s desired concentration of study.

Students are advised to work on their theses for at least one hour a day every day in order to stay on top of their research and writing for due dates.

“It’s difficult to set aside time because things are due in your classes and those things tend to take priority, so it takes a lot of motivation and devotion,” Carbaugh said. “It’s interesting researching it though. That’s why they encourage you to write about something that you won’t get bored by during the year and a half that you’re writing it.”

Ogden, Utah senior Aimee Seale is also a University Scholars major who is working to complete her senior thesis.

“It’s a unique experience that challenges your critical thinking and dedication to a project, but as the pages start to build up it’s really satisfying,” Seale said. “There are no doubt long nights and some tears shed during the busy weeks, but I’m so grateful for the chance to conquer a thesis as an undergraduate.”

Carbaugh said the final aspect of writing a thesis is turning it in to a committee that includes the student’s thesis advisor and two other professors. The committee will read over the thesis and then the student will present their ideas and discoveries.

“They’ll ask you questions and give you critiques, and then you can edit your thesis before submitting the final draft to the Honors College,” Carbaugh said.