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Honors Thesis Guidelines

Ross and Carol NeseĀ College of Nursing Schreyer ScholarsĀ are expected to demonstrate excellent academic achievement with integrity, build a global perspective, and seek opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. One of the ways in which they demonstrate that excellence is with a well-developed, well-executed undergraduate honors thesis.

Honors Thesis (from the College of Nursing Handbook)

Students must satisfactorily complete an honors thesis by the eighth week of their final semester. Students may enroll in NURS 494H (Honors Thesis) for 1 to 3 credits per semester for thesis work.

The objectives of the thesis are that the student will:

  • Identify a researchable problem within the parameters of the discipline of nursing
  • Conduct a review of the literature on the subject
  • Develop an investigative plan to study the problem
  • Collect and analyze the data
  • Summarize the investigation in written scholarly form

Students must also submit an online thesis proposal report (TPR) to the Schreyer Honors College.

The following Honors thesis guidelines are consistent with the Schreyer Honors College guidelines, but include expectations for a rigorous and meaningful scientific product that advances the science of nursing. All thesis policies and deadlines set by the Schreyer Honors College are to be followed.

For more information, refer to the Schreyer Honors College Student Handbook.

It is recommended that College of Nursing Schreyer Scholars review examples of previous successful Nursing honors theses early in their thesis process for expectations on length, APA formatting, and bibliographic requirements.

The Thesis

For Nursing students, the thesis is an opportunity to gain expertise in creating, not just consuming, nursing science. The College of Nursing honors thesis follows the accepted format for a graduate nursing thesis or dissertation, which includes the following chapters:

  1. Purpose and Significance of the Study
  2. Review of the Literature
  3. Methodology
  4. Results
  5. Discussion

In the thesis process, the student will identify a topic of interest, develop a researchable question or hypothesis, and conduct an extensive review and synthesis of the literature resulting in an understanding of the current state of the science related to their topic of interest. This involves collaborating with the College of Nursing honors adviser to identify a tenured or tenure-track faculty researcher/mentor early in the honors program to oversee the project. The student will then answer their research question/hypothesis in one of three ways:

1. Conducting Original Research

a. The student will meet frequently with his/her faculty mentor to design and conduct the study. This will include obtaining the approriate releases from human subjects.

b. The student will enroll in Nursing 200M Honors (Understanding and Applying Nursing Research) in the fall of the junior year, followed by Nursing 300H (Honors Seminar) in the spring of the junior year, to prepare for writing the thesis.

c. The expected timeline involves the student designing the project with his/her mentor during the junior year, collecting data in the summer between the junior and senior years, and analyzing the data and writing up the results in the fall of the senior year.

d. The student will complete a rough draft of all five chapters by the beginning of the spring semester of senior year, then work closely with the faculty mentor and honors adviser to edit the thesis through an iterative process of revision and resubmission.

e. The honors thesis will be ready for submission to the Schreyer Honors College when both the faculty mentor and the honors adviser sign off on it.

2. Conducting a Secondary Analysis of an Existing Data Set

a. In collaboration with the faculty mentor, the student will identify a data set containing the quantitative or qualitative data to answer the research question/hypothesis.

b. The student will meet frequently with the faculty mentor to design and conduct the secondary analysis of the data set. This will include obtaining the appropriate human subject releases.

c. The student will enroll in N200M Honors (Understanding and Applying Nursing Research) in the fall semester of the junior year, followed by N300H (Honors Seminar) in the spring of the junior year to prepare for writing the thesis.

d. The expected timeline involves the student designing the project with his/her mentor during the junior year, analyzing the data in the summer between the junior and senior years, and writing up the results in the fall semester of the senior year.

e. The student will complete a rough draft of all five chapters of the thesis by the beginning of the spring semester of senior year, then work closely with the faculty mentor and honors adviser to edit the thesis through an iterative process of revision and resubmission.

f. The honors thesis will be ready for submission to the Schreyer Honors College when both the faculty mentor and honors adviser sign off on it.

3. Conducting an Integrative Review of the Literature

a. The student will meet frequently with the faculty mentor to prepare his/her search terms and identify appropriate electronic databases. An appointment with the medial librarian at Penn State University Libraries will be arranged to confirm the terms and databases.

b. The student will enroll in N200M Honors (Understanding and Applying Nursing Research) in the fall semester of the junior year, followed by N300H (Honors Seminar) in the spring semester of junior year to prepare for writing the thesis.

c. The expected timeline involves the student beginning his/her search with the mentor during the junior year, analyzing and synthesizing the literature in the summer between the junior and senior years, and writing up the results in the fall semester of the senior year.

d. The student will complete a rough draft of all five chapters of the thesis by the beginning of spring semester of the senior year, then work closely with the faculty mentor and honors adviser to edit the thesis through an iterative process of revision and resubmission.

e. The honors thesis will be ready for submission to the Schreyer Honors College when both the faculty mentor and honors adviser sign off on it.