Thesis Committee

Thesis Committee

Each Individually Contracted Honors Thesis requires the creation of a two-person Thesis Committee, which must include a faculty Committee Chair and a Committee Member. 

In most cases, the Thesis Committee will consist of two people, a faculty Committee Chair (thesis director) and a second Committee Member. Your Thesis Committee will help you develop a proposal, provide feedback during research and writing, and conduct the oral defense. 

Before you start your Honors Thesis Proposal for Honors Thesis Part 2, you should meet with the full Thesis Committee. as each member might have different ideas about what the Honors Thesis work should accomplish. It is very important to clarify each person’s interests and expectations before the research or creative endeavor begins. You and your Thesis Committee must also determine the level of involvement of the committee members. It is best to record a detailed agreement of expectations in writing as part of your formal proposal to safeguard against potential misunderstandings at a later date.  


Committee Chair 

The Committee Chair (thesis director) is the faculty member with whom you will work most closely, and who will also be responsible for the routing of forms and information. In consultation with other Thesis Committee member(s), the Committee Chair will determine the grade for the completed Honors Thesis at the oral defense. 

The chairperson you choose should be an expert in the area of your research, and preferably someone with whom you have had previous experience, perhaps through a class or an Honors Independent Study. 

Once you have selected a Committee Chair, it is a good idea to set up regular meetings to keep him or her informed of your progress and discuss any existing or potential problems. 


Second Committee Member  

The second Committee Member is responsible for assisting you with research and participating in the oral defense. This Committee Member might play significant roles at particular points in the research or creative process, such as providing assistance with statistics or reference resources. 

In general, only one second Committee Member is required. For the Departmental Honors track, the Honors Program Director must also approve your choice. Some departments may require a three-person committee. 

The second Committee Member is usually a member of the UMass Amherst or Five Colleges faculty or post-doctoral fellow. With approval from the Committee Chair and Commonwealth Honors College, it might be possible to select a second Committee Member from another university or a professional in a related field. 


Selection Deadlines 

You will need to recruit a faculty Committee Chair to serve on your Thesis Committee before you can submit your 499Y Semester Plan Proposal. 

You will need to recruit a second Committee Member before you can submit your 499M/P Honors Thesis Proposal (Honors Thesis Part 2) prior to the second semester of your thesis work. 


Committee Constituents 

Departmental Honors 

Please consult with your Honors Program Director before selecting your committee members.  

  • Committee Chair: Faculty selected by you, usually in your department. 

  • Committee Member(s): Faculty or other approved individual(s), in consultation with the Committee Chair and the Honors Program Director. 

Multidisciplinary Honors 

  • Committee Chair: Faculty in area of expertise. 

  • Committee Member: Faculty or other approved individual. 


Selecting Thesis Committee Members 

If you are not sure who to ask to be on your Thesis Committee, speak with the Honors Program Director and/or the chief undergraduate advisor of your department and ask which faculty members have chaired committees in the past, who has interests similar to yours. 

Once you have recruited a Committee Chair, he or she can suggest colleagues who might be willing to serve as the second Committee Member. Honors Program Directors from other departments may also be able to provide suggestions for potential members from their departments. 

It is important to choose someone who either shares a passion for your topic or someone with whom you work well. While many students assemble their Thesis Committee with professors they have had in a class or independent study, it is possible to work with a faculty member who you may not currently know well, but whose expertise is in the field you wish to study. It’s a good idea to speak to several faculty members to identify those who would be good mentors before making a decision.