Honors Thesis in IS

IS student completing summer internship in The Gambia

IS student's summer internship at the Gambian National Nutrition Agency led to her Honors IS thesis topic:    "Iodine Deficiency in The Gambia: A Hidden Problem"

What is the Honors Thesis in International Studies?

The Honors Thesis in International Studies is an academically rigorous research project undertaken under the direct supervision of a University of Iowa faculty mentor. Every Honors Thesis must be approved by a faculty mentor and the International Studies Program, and it must include research, discussion, and documentation of sources.  Students should register for IS:4991 Honors Thesis in International Studies when registering for the semester in which the thesis will be completed (this is an independent research experience with meeting times arranged by student and faculty mentor). Students earn 3 s.h. of graded credit for completing IS:4991 Honors Thesis in IS.

  • The Honors Thesis must focus on an international topic and clearly relate to a student's International Studies track.
  • The Honors Thesis may be either a 30-50 page thesis paper or a creative research project. Creative projects must be approved by the International Studies Program prior to registration.
  • Students may NOT enroll in the Honors Thesis during the summer session.
  • Students may combine IS:4991 Honors Thesis in International Studies with another UI thesis or project.
  • Students are encouraged to register in IS:3990 Independent Study in International Studies under the direction of their faculty mentor a semester preceding the Honors Thesis registration, if appropriate. A maximum of 3 s.h. of this independent study can be used as an upper-level International Studies track course.
  • If a student is building on a project completed for a previous course, it is important that the student not simply "quote themselves," but instead use that previous project as a starting point to explore a topic from another perspective, take the work in another direction with a new research question, or delve more deeply into the previous topic. Simply adding additional pages to a previous work and submitting it as your Honors Thesis constitutes academic fraud under the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences guidelines.
  • Students who declared the International Studies B.A. before Fall 2007 may choose to complete either IS:4990 International Studies Senior Project or IS:4991 Honors Thesis in International Studies.


How Do I Find a Topic and a Faculty Mentor for my Honors Thesis?

Students should plan to find a topic and a faculty mentor in the semester prior to registration in IS:4991 Honors Thesis in International Studies.  If you would like to discuss finding a topic or faculty mentor, make an appointment with the International Studies academic advisor.

Suggestions for finding a topic include:

  • Gauge your interest in global events/debates/issues by reading coverage found in the national and international media.
  • Refer to notes, readings, and bibliographies from your International Studies track coursework (as your Honors Thesis must clearly relate to your IS track(s)).
  • Enroll in the optional course, IS:3011 Library Strategies for International Research (1 s.h.).
  • Schedule a research consultation at the UI Main Library.
  • Complete the required course, IS:3010 Creating a Proposal for Intl Research (2 s.h.), during which you will complete a draft of your Honors Thesis Research Proposal.

Suggestions for finding a faculty mentor include:

Faculty eligible to supervise IS:4991 Honors Thesis Intl Studies include tenured, tenure-track, clinical, or (with approval of the DEO of the International Studies Program) visiting or adjunct faculty, at the rank of lecturer, assistant professor, associate professor, or professor (refer to procedures for visiting and adjunct faculty to serve as mentors).

  • Consider faculty with whom you’ve taken classes—they already know how great you are!
  • Peruse Tracks/Faculty on the IS website for listings of faculty who are teaching, researching and mentoring in areas related to each IS track. 
  • Do keyword searches on MyUI to search course title and subtitle. Search several semesters' course listings to find which UI faculty are teaching courses which may relate to your research questions.
  • Read faculty bios on their home department's website. Learn more about their current research interests to see if they are an appropriate mentor for your topic.
  • Read  Information for Faculty Mentors so that you are prepared to answer any questions that a potential faculty mentor might have about the Honors Thesis process.
  • Contact faculty members by email, providing a brief description of yourself, the International Studies Honors Thesis requirement, and your specific research project. Let them know that you plan to visit them during their upcoming office hours to discuss things further in person. (If you don’t know their office hours, contact the faculty's department to find out when their office hours are BEFORE writing the email).
  • Meet with your potential faculty mentor. Take a draft of your Honors Thesis Research Proposal and a copy of  Information for Faculty Mentors to your meeting. Be prepared to tell the faculty member how your topic relates to their work. Ask him or her to scan your list of references and give you suggestions on other resources to consult to further define your research question. Expect that your research question will continue to evolve as you delve deeper into your topic—that’s OK.

PLEASE NOTE:  Any honors thesis which involves "human subjects" must be reviewed by the University of Iowa Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to the initiation of the project.  Proof of the determination/review process must also be submitted to the International Studies Program. Read a summary of the IRB process on the International Programs website.  For all questions contact the IRB at 319-335-6465; or complete the IRB determination form to find out if your research meets the definition of human subjects research.


What Are the Semester-Specific Deadlines for IS:4991 Honors Thesis International Studies?

Fall 2016 deadlines
Spring 2017 deadlines


How Do I Enroll in IS:4991 Honors Thesis in International Studies?

  • Print the Registration Preapproval Form.
  • Have your faculty mentor sign your Registration Preapproval Form.
  • Submit your Registration Preapproval Form, and your Honors Thesis Research Proposal (completed during IS:3010 Creating a  Proposal for Int'l Research) to the International Studies Program.
  • Receive an email from the International Studies Program that you now have permission to enroll in honors thesis; enroll in IS:4991 Honors Thesis in International Studies on MyUI by choosing your faculty mentor from the list.  If your faculty mentor is not on the list, contact the International Studies academic advisor.


  • PLEASE NOTE: The deadline to submit the Registration Preapproval Form and Honors Thesis Research Proposal is 4:30 pm on the final day that MyUI can be used to enroll in semester-length courses each session. 
  • To add IS:4991 Honors Thesis in International Studies after the deadline to add and drop on MyUI submit the Registration Preapproval Form, Honors Thesis Research Proposal and an add slip signed by your faculty mentor to the International Studies Program.  The academic advisor will sign your add slip then email you when you can pick it up and submit it to 17 Calvin Hall.


Are There Additional Requirements for Completing IS:4991 Honors Thesis in International Studies?

  • Submit a Progress Report to the International Studies Program during Week 7 of the semester in which you are enrolled (this requires your faculty mentor's signature).
  • If you plan to graduate the semester in which you are completing your honors thesis, read "Undergraduate Degree Candidate Information." Be sure to apply for your degree before the deadline (via MyUI / Student Records). Contact registrar-degree-applications@uiowa.edu with questions about applying for a degree. Contact  commencements@uiowa.edu with questions about graduation ceremonies.

  • Students completing IS:4991 Honors Thesis in International Studies must also submit an "Application to Graduate with Departmental Honors" before the deadline. See the UI Honors Program website for the form and for instructions.  PLEASE NOTE: the International Studies Honors Advisor is Emily Wentzell; do NOT contact her directly but rather submit the application to the International Studies Program in 21 SH in advance of the deadline.


  • Follow all instructions found on the UI Honors Program website for formatting your Honors Thesis, and your Honors Title Page.  Contact the UI Honors Program directly with questions (319-335-1681; 420 Blank Honors Center; honors-program@uiowa.edu ).
  • You are required to present your International Studies honors research at a poster session. Read more about the poster session requirement here.


How Do I Submit My Completed IS:4991 Honors Thesis in International Studies?

Refer to the UI Honors Program website for instructions on creating your honors title page and honors thesis abstract. Go to 420 BHC to receive an approval seal for the honors title page; email your honors thesis abstract to honors-program@uiowa.edu.

Make 3 copies of your finished thesis to turn in as follows (you are also advised to keep a copy of all Honors Thesis materials for your records).

  1. Faculty mentor: Turn in one copy of your thesis to your faculty mentor for grading. Be sure to communicate with your mentor about an appropriate deadline that will give him/her time to review your final draft so that he/she can then sign your International Studies Honors Thesis Cover Sheet and your Honors Title Page
  2. International Studies Program: Turn in a second copy of your thesis with your signed International Studies Cover Sheet to the International Studies Program before 4:30p.m. on the Friday before finals week. Be sure to include the abstract that you wrote according to the instructions on the UI Honors Program website, and careful citation of quoted or summarized material (discuss the appropriate form with your faculty mentor, i.e. footnote or in-text notes), plus a required bibliography.

    At the same time you will submit your Honors Title Page to the International Studies Program so that the International Studies Honors Advisor (i.e., Emily Wentzell) can sign it (after which you will receive an email to pick it up). Do not contact the Honors Advisor directly; instead follow these instructions by submitting all materials to the International Studies Program in 21 SH.

  3. UI Honors Program: Turn in a third copy of your thesis to the UI Honors Program, along with your Honors Title Page (which has been signed first by your faculty mentor, and then by the International Studies Honors Advisor) before their deadline. Do not staple or place any binding on this copy; the Honors Program will bind all theses. For questions about the UI Honors Program requirements and deadlines, please contact them directly (319-335-1681; 420 Blank Honors Center; honors-program@uiowa.edu ).