Student Resources

Honors Program

The Honors thesis program provides an opportunity for eligible Asian Studies undergraduate seniors to complete original and independent research under the mentorship of a faculty thesis advisor. The honors thesis program is a year-long program which may begin in either the fall or spring semester of the senior year. It consists of the completion of Asian Studies H195A-H195B (3 units each), which includes the writing of the honors thesis. These can count towards two of the five interarea/interdisciplinary courses required for the major.

The honors thesis is expected to be a substantial research paper, both in its length and originality. Although there is no specific length requirement, a typical undergraduate Honors Thesis contains 40-80 pages of text, a bibliography, and often illustrations and tables. Each thesis is reviewed by two faculty members of your choice. To get a sense of what has been done in the past, click here or visit the undergraduate major advisor in 101 Stephens for bound copies of theses.


  • Overall UC GPA must be 3.5 or higher at the time of application and when beginning the thesis.
  • Major GPA must be 3.6 or higher at time of application and when beginning the thesis.
  • Students must complete the language requirement, the upper division theories and methods and history requirements, before embarking on the honors thesis.
  • A completed honors thesis application form and a well-designed research proposal that has the sponsorship of two faculty members must be submitted to the undergraduate advisor.
  • No Incompletes on record at time of application and when beginning the thesis. All incomplete grades must be resolved before a student can submit the honors thesis form.

Getting Started

  1. Discuss your plans for an honors thesis with the Asian Studies undergraduate major advisor. The major advisor will provide you with an application on which you will need to secure the signatures of a thesis advisor and a second reviewer (both faculty members).
  2. Decide on a topic and a potential faculty advisor. If you are unsure about which faculty member to approach, the undergraduate advisor can help you identify faculty members who will be most able to help you with your proposed topic. For a list of affiliated faculty and their research interests, go to the "Faculty" section on this site.
  3. Prepare a brief thesis proposal: a statement of the research question and your plan of action including a discussion of the research methods you will employ.
  4. Meet your prospective thesis advisor with your proposal in hand and ask if he or she is able to sponsor you. If the response is "yes," then the subsequent process is largely up to you and your thesis advisor. If the answer is "no" (the faculty member may be on leave the coming year, unable to commit the time that you and your project merit, etc.), meet with additional faculty until you find sponsorship.
  5. Find a second faculty reviewer. The second reader is only required to read and comment on a near-final version of the thesis, but may chose to play a greater role. Discuss with your thesis adviser who would make a good second reader for your project, and arrange to meet with prospective reader(s). If they agree to work with you and your thesis advisor, you are ready to complete the thesis application. NOTE: It is recommended that the student find out early that both readers agree on the same research methodology and range of required readings, that the project is not too large to be completed in two semesters, and that both readers be available (not on sabbatical or leave) for both semesters.
  6. Submit your application to the major advisor. She will give you a course control number so that you can enroll in the class. The honor coursework (H195A and H195B) can count as two of the five elective requirements for the major. NOTE: Asian Studies H195A and H195B are independent study courses; there is no instruction or class time involved. All the work for the thesis and these two courses is done independently.

Recommended Application Time Line

February of junior year (Fall/Spring thesis); September of junior year (Spring/Fall thesis): Prepare brief thesis proposal and meet with prospective thesis adviser(s). Get consent of a faculty member to serve as your sponsor. Discuss the project, appropriate methodology and research methods, and preparation of sample bibliography with faculty sponsor. April of junior year (Fall/Spring); November of junior year (Spring/Fall): The thesis application form, signed by both the faculty adviser and second reader, due to the undergraduate major advisor in 101 Stephens.

Level of Honors

Only work of high caliber will qualify for graduation with "Honors" notated on the transcript. The criteria for determination of the level of Honors are the quality and originality of the thesis, as well as the student's performance in coursework. The Honors categories are: Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors. If the thesis is not of the quality expected a student may receive course credit only. The College will not award Honors on the diploma if the student does not maintain the required 3.6 GPA in the major and 3.5 overall.

For further questions about the program, contact the undergraduate major advisor at 101 Stephens Hall. See the contact page on this site for days/hours.