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Thesis and Honors Guidelines

The MMSS Committee on Honors makes final recommendations for MMSS Honors, and its recommendations are subject to approval by the CAS Committee on Superior Students and Honors.  The MMSS Committee on Honors considers the following criteria in its deliberations:

A majority vote of the Committee is required to recommend honors.  The Committee’s vote on each candidate accompanies its recommendations to the CAS Committee on Superior Students and Honors.  If a student disputes the Committee’s recommendation, appeal can be made to the director of MMSS.

(Note: The CAS Committee convenes once a year during Spring Quarter.  Only students with a June graduation date are considered for honors.)

I.  Interdisciplinary Honors and Dual Honors

MMSS students have two options for pursuing an award of honors where the designation of honors applies to both their MMSS major and their joint major.

a. Dual Honors

Under this option, a student writes two separate and independent theses with two separate advisors, one for each major.  In this case a student will generally have a different advisor for each thesis and should attend the thesis seminar for each major according to the normal requirements set by each major. 

A student wishing to pursue dual honors must inform the instructors of both thesis seminars that he/she intends to purse dual honors.  The student must complete an Application for Dual or Interdisciplinary Senior Honors Project form and have it approved and signed by the instructors of both thesis seminars as well as both advisors.  The signed and completed form must be submitted for approval to the Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising, 1922 Sheridan Road, no later than May 24 of the student’s junior year. 

For each major (MMSS and the second major), if the thesis is determined to meet the quality standard for the award of honors and if the student meets the other requirements for the award of honors, the student will receive an award of honors in that major. A student meeting the honors requirements for both majors will receive two separate awards of honors, one in each major.  For example, a student majoring in MMSS and economics that successfully achieves dual honors would have both “Honors in MMSS” and “Honors in Economics” recorded on his/her transcript.

b. Interdisciplinary Honors     

Under this option a student writes a single thesis falling within the disciplinary boundaries of both MMSS and the student’s second major. A student pursuing interdisciplinary honors may have a single advisor although it is also possible to have two advisors when this is appropriate.

With the exception of economics joint majors, students should register for and attend the second major’s thesis seminar according to the normal requirements of the major.  Students should also fully participate in and attend all meetings of the MMSS thesis seminar over all three quarters of the senior year, but should ONLY register for MMSS 398-1 in the fall. (i.e., students should not formally register for MMSS 398-2 or MMSS 398-3). 

Students pursuing interdisciplinary honors in MMSS and economics are not required to register for or attend meetings of the economics senior seminar.  They should instead enroll in MMSS 398-1 and at least on additional quarter of MMSS 398.  (As for all MMSS students writing a senior thesis, MMSS students pursuing interdisciplinary honors in MMSS and economics must attend all meetings of the MMSS senior thesis seminar held over the entire academic year, regardless of which quarters of the thesis seminar they officially register for.)         

A student wishing to pursue interdisciplinary honors must inform the instructors of both thesis seminars that he/she intends to purse interdisciplinary honors.  The student must complete an Application for Dual or Interdisciplinary Senior Honors Project form and have it approved and signed by the instructors of both thesis seminars as well as the thesis advisor(s).  The signed and completed form must be submitted for approval to the Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising, 1922 Sheridan Road, no later than May 24 of the student’s junior year.

If the thesis is determined to meet the standard for the award of honors by both majors and if the student meets the other requirements for the award of honors of both majors, the student will receive an award of interdisciplinary honors in the two majors.  For example, a student majoring in MMSS and economics that successfully achieves interdisciplinary honors would have “Interdisciplinary Honors in MMSS and Economics” recorded on his/her transcript.

 II.  Using a Single Thesis to Fulfill Two Major Requirements and up to one Honors Requirement

All majors at Northwestern require submission of a satisfactory thesis for the award of honors. Some majors (including MMSS) require submission of a satisfactory thesis as a requirement for a degree in the major, even if the student does not intend to apply for honors.  MMSS students may use a single thesis to fulfill the major requirement for MMSS, the major requirement for their second major (if such a requirement exists) and the honors requirement for at most one of their two majors.  (Students wishing to pursue an award of honors where the designation of honors applies to both their MMSS major and their second major should refer to the dual honors and interdisciplinary honors options described above in part 4.  The procedures described in this section can result in the award of honors in only one of the two majors.)

A student wishing to use a single thesis to fulfill requirements in both the MMSS major and the student’s second major must inform the instructors of both thesis seminars of his/her intent to submit a single thesis to fulfill requirements in both majors and the thesis topic must be approved by both instructors. There is no need to fill out a special permission form as is the case for students that intend to pursue either dual honors or interdisciplinary honors.   The student should register for and attend the second major’s thesis seminar according to the normal requirements of the major.   The student should also fully participate in and attend all meeting of the MMSS thesis seminar over all three quarters of the senior year, but should ONLY register for MMSS 398-1 in the fall. (i.e., he/she should not formally register for MMSS 398-2 of MMSS398-3).

 Each major will independently determine if the thesis meets its requirements.

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