Senior Thesis


In order to graduate from the Honors College, students must complete and successfully defend a senior thesis or project.

For specific details related to the senior thesis, please consult the Senior Thesis Handbook.


Thesis Paper vs. Project?

A thesis paper involves extensive research resulting in what amounts to an extended term paper. Projects generally involve a performance, an exhibit, equipment design and construction, or other "hands-on" activity.  The Thesis Director determines the appropriate length of your thesis.

The written portion of a thesis project (i.e., the project paper) usually is considerably shorter than a thesis paper, determined by the Thesis Director. However, students often underestimate the time required to complete their projects.  In fact, projects may require considerably more time than the traditional thesis.  The project paper must meet the guidelines stated in the Thesis Handbook.  

View past senior thesis papers and projects here.

Course Equivalents

There are several approved courses that may be considered equivalent to SCHC 390, 499 or both.  SPTE and Engineering and Computing majors are exempt for SCHC 390 but must submit a Thesis Contract in the fall of their senior year, listing the course equivalent for SCHC 499.  Students using an equivalent course must follow all of the requirements for thesis submission listed in the Thesis Handbook.  For a list of other approved courses, please contact Dr. Kay Banks.    

Thesis Director & Second Reader

Prior to enrolling in SCHC 390, you should look for a Thesis Director, a faculty member who can provide guidance in research, establish the criteria for your grading, and will be responsible for entering a grade at the conclusion of the project. Your Director must be a full-time faculty member at the University of South Carolina and cannot be a member of your family or close family friend.

You must select a Second Reader prior to enrolling in SCHC 499. A Second Reader can serve as the "technical expert”, giving guidance in the mechanics of writing the resulting paper.  Or if you are pursuing an interdisciplinary thesis, the Second Reader can represent the second field and with the Thesis Director help to ensure you will include appropriate material from each discipline.  The Second Reader need not be a USC faculty member or affiliated in any way; he/she can be from the community.  However the Second Reader cannot be a friend, family member or undergraduate student.

5 Steps of the Honors College Senior Thesis

Step 1: Enroll in SCHC 390

SCHC 390 is an online class taken in either the fall or spring semester of the junior year to prepare students in writing and research a senior thesis.  At the end of the course, students submit a thesis proposal for a pass/fail grade.  Students who are studying away from campus are waived from the requirement but can still access information provided on Blackboard.  Students are enrolled in the course through their honors college academic advisor.

Step 2: Enroll in SCHC 499

After completing SCHC 390, complete the following online form to enroll in SCHC 499:

Step 3:  Meet Regularly with your Thesis Director and Second Reader

Students are expected to maintain regular contact with their thesis director and second reader for the duration of their senior year.  Here are some tips for your meeting:

  • Discuss when they expect a draft(s) of your writing.  A final draft should be sent to your readers at least 2 weeks before the thesis defense.
  • Select a date for your thesis defense.   Any request for extensions beyond the stated deadline must be sent to Dr. Banks by the Thesis Director.

Step 4: Thesis Defense Preparations

What to expect at your Thesis Defense 

  • The Thesis Defense is a presentation of your thesis work.  It is best to ask your director and second reader their preference on how you present your thesis (Power Point, highlight specific details, etc). 
  • Typically a thesis defense is between 30 – 45 minutes.  It is optional to invite family and friends; a member of the honors college is not required to attend your thesis defense.
  • Bring the thesis title page completed with your information to attain the signatures of your director and second reader.  You can find the template in the forms section on this webpage. Please note the director and second reader are not required to sign the title page at your thesis defense.   

Step 5: Submit your Thesis Paper/Project and Required Documents 

  • In order to certify your diploma as an Honors College graduate, the following items are required by and should be brought to the office of Dr. Kay Banks – do not send any of the following via email:
    • Final thesis paper/project brought to the office of Dr. Kay Banks ( either on USB drive or CD-ROM, once your director and second reader have approved all edits/revisions.  Remember every thesis, including projects, have a written component.
    • Signed Title Page in the required format; you do not need to get the Dean’s signature. 
    • Thesis Submission and Binding form can be dropped in Dr. Banks office mailbox on the first floor of Harper.

Special Note: Binding Your Thesis

Students are not required to pay for bound thesis copies.  But if you are interested in paying for a bound copy of your thesis in the traditional “red book”, please contact Dr. Kay Banks: for details or see format requirements in the Thesis Student Handbook.

Thesis Dates & Deadlines

Spring 2017
January 17 - Last day to enroll in SCHC 499 (2-credit hour)
January 27 - Honors College Graduate from due for May and August Graduates
April 10 - Last day to submit thesis defense date and location
April 21 - Last day for thesis defense (May Graduates)
May 2 - Last day to submit thesis and required documents (May Graduates)

August 2017
July 21 - Last day to submit thesis defense date and location
July 28 – Last day for thesis defense (August Graduates)
August 4 – Last day to submit thesis and required documents (August Graduates)

Fall 2017
September 8 -  Honors College Graduation form due for December Graduates
October 6 – Thesis Contract due for SCHC 499 Enrollment
December 8 – Last day for thesis defense (December Graduates)
December 13 – Last day to submit thesis and required documents (December Graduates)
December Revocation - TBA

Forms and Documents

Thesis Contract (Contact Dr. Banks)
Thesis Submission & Binding Form (Contact Dr. Banks)
Sample Thesis Title Page
Senior Thesis Defense Confirmation Form (Contact Dr. Banks)

for more information

H. Kay Banks, Ed.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor
Thesis Coordinator
South Carolina Honors College
220 Harper College
(803) 777-2409