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My Honors College

BARSC Thesis Requirement

The BARSC thesis is different from a traditional Honors Senior Thesis and represents a BARSC student’s effort to pull together the strands of their unique degree plan into an extended research/scholarly experience.

BARSC students complete an expanded thesis – a total of nine credit hours. The nine credit hours illustrate the depth of the research and reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the program. All major coursework for a BARSC student informs the expanded thesis and the thesis topic should be discussed with the BARSC committee when discussing courses to be completed for the degree.

A typical student completes the thesis on the following timeline:


SCHC 390 (1 credit hour)

Fall junior year

Spring sophomore year

SCHC 499 (3 credit hours)

Spring junior year Fall junior year

SCHC 499 (3 credit hours)

Fall senior year Spring junior year

SCHC 499 (3 credit hours)

Spring senior year n/a

The amount of time spent on thesis work in a given semester should reflect the number of thesis hours a student is pursuing in a particular semester. For example, a three-credit hour course represents roughly 150 hours of work, so a student should be spending approximately 150 hours during the semester on some aspect of the senior thesis.

Activities that could contribute to the 150 hours of work in a semester may include:

  • Meeting with your thesis director
  • Gathering background literature
  • Reading and synthesizing the literature
  • Developing research methods and procedures
  • Planning the research
  • Purchasing supplies and materials
  • Traveling to a research site
  • Conducting research
  • Maintaining lab equipment, animals, etc.
  • Coding and inputting data into research software
  • Analyzing results
  • Writing
  • Translating the research into practice

Frequently Asked Questions:

While a traditional senior thesis can be project-based with an additional research component, the primary focus of the BARSC senior thesis must be qualitative, quantitative or mixed-method research. This primary research focus, however, often translates into an additional project or practice. Put more simply: the BARSC senior thesis is research-based, and often has an additional project component which results from that research.


A student combining communication, public health and medical humanities is completing a BARSC thesis that is focused on prenatal health education and communication strategies for Black women who are pregnant. For the research component of the thesis, the student conducts 10-12 qualitative interviews with pregnant Black women (30-45 minutes with each interview subject) regarding their knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and communication needs on prenatal health.

After completing data analysis, the student utilizes the findings from the research to develop communication materials for the target audience. This would be the project component of the thesis.

No, a BARSC senior thesis is not necessarily longer than a traditional senior thesis. However, since the BARSC thesis demonstrates the interdisciplinary nature of the degree, the literature review is typically longer because a student is pulling together literature from different areas and interconnecting the literature in a way that informs the research.

The short answer is, YES, a BARSC student’s thesis director does not have to be a member of the BARSC committee. However, the thesis director is often a member of the committee, as this faculty member is someone who the student has worked with closely for several years. However, interests change, students may be introduced to other faculty who better suit their research area or methodology, and faculty go on sabbatical or may have other commitments, which may all be reasons why a thesis director is not a member of the BARSC committee.

This question is particularly relevant to Accelerated Undergraduate to MD -  BARSC-MD students, as SCHC 497 is a requirement of that concentration. A BARSC student’s thesis does NOT have to be based on research conducted in SCHC 497. Sometimes interests change and students may be introduced to other faculty or labs that better suit their research interests or methodology. We also welcome you to create your own research project with interests outside of those related to medicine.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.