Honors College thesis program still strong

Josh Echt

Requirements remain unchanged after 25 years of educating

The relationship between emotion and psychology has always interested senior psychology major Nicole Stark.

Through the Honors College thesis program, Stark was able to research the effects of stress on blood pressure.

Stark’s project involve laboratory testing people in various crisis-based situations.

“I’m excited about the data that was accomplished and what’s to come,” Stark said. “It’s nice to go into the lab with a professor – you gain knowledge and experience.”

The purpose of the thesis is to stimulate understanding of a topic that interests students through a 10-credit-hour project spanning two semesters, said Victoria Bocchicchio, coordinator of Honors College curriculum.

The in-depth research or creative project depends on the student’s preference, she said.

“Some students work on advertising campaigns, while others choose sustainable design projects for architecture,” Bocchicchio said.

Students completing a thesis meet with an adviser in their chosen field to begin work on the project. The thesis adviser is a regular faculty member, not an Honors College adviser, Bocchicchio said.

About 250 students graduate annually from the estimated 1,100-member college, whether or not they have completed a thesis, she said.

An average graduating class has about 40 to 50 thesis students, Bocchicchio said.

Senior psychology major Jacob Finn is one of the Honors students who chose not to complete a thesis.

Finn said he felt his research, headed for publication in academic journals, would benefit him more than a thesis project.

“It’s not time-friendly,” he said. “Professors are more involved with graduate students. As a result, there is not as much one-on-one time with undergraduates.”

Bocchicchio said the thesis project is a “serious undertaking,” but the effort put into it would pay off in the rapidly changing workplace.

“It’s such a big project – but a person can then demonstrate he or she has experience in the given field,” she said.

One of the most rewarding things about the program is seeing students mature and develop over time, Bocchicchio said.

“I love seeing students refine their research into a project that is based on what they want to do,” she said. “Students say, ‘this is something I want to do,’ instead of some professor saying, ‘this is what you’re going to do.'”

Contact general assignment reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].