Guidelines for Preparing an Honors Thesis Research Proposal and Fellowship Application

The Thesis Research Proposal and Fellowship Application is a requirement of those writing a thesis and is due late in the first semester in which a student registers for thesis credits. This proposal is the only thesis-related written work submitted to the University Honors Program (UHP) during the  thesis process prior to the thesis itself. This is a student’s opportunity to formalize the  concept for the thesis and make an initial attempt at explaining the preliminary work and  goals to others. Please read the following guidelines closely, and submit any questions to the  Associate Director of Research of the UHP.

Applying for a Thesis Fellowship

The other purpose behind completing the Thesis Research Proposal and Fellowship Application is that funds are available from the UHP to support student research. In fact, this is your only opportunity to request funding in support of your thesis work. Budget requests may be for any amount including no request for funding, but awards range from $50 to a maximum of $1,500 (except in the case of the Palermo Founders Fund—please see below). Please note that the decision regarding funding is made as part of a competitive process. The recommendations will be made by a committee evaluating all fellowship applications at one time and evaluate each request based upon the merits and needs of the individual student’s research proposal.

Typically, a thesis fellowship is used to offset expenses such as the following:

  • Laboratory (or other research-related) equipment and supplies
  • Art supplies and equipment
  • The purchase or lease of computer software
  • Books or periodicals not available through normal library sources
  • Costs for preparing, copying, and mailing surveys
  • Travel expenses directly related to the thesis project (automobile mileage, airfare, etc.)

Honors Summer Housing Fellowship

Thesis students conducting their research on campus over the summer are eligible for a Thesis Summer Housing Fellowship that covers the full cost of their University housing, distributed through the Honors Thesis Research Proposal and Fellowship application.

Because the University Honors Program seeks to build an intentional community of scholars who share their research, support their fellow students and mentor the 2nd-year Berry Summer Thesis Institute scholars, thesis students who receive the summer housing fellowship are required to live on campus and actively participate in a weekly summer lunchtime seminar program.

The Thesis Summer Housing Fellowship is available only to students engaged exclusively in thesis research for the full summer third term and covers only University housing. Students working a job not related to their thesis project, taking summer courses or pursuing an education abroad experience during part of the summer, are excluded from UHP housing unless their thesis proposal demonstrates that these activities are an integral part of their thesis project.

Fellowship funds are not awarded for expenses such as the following

  • Equipment, supplies, software or printed materials available through the University
  • Meals
  • Gift cards and entry fees for study participants
  • Travel to conferences (a student whose thesis work is accepted to be presented at a conference which occurs before the student completes his or her undergraduate degree is encouraged to request cost-sharing from the UHP)
  • Personnel costs, including payments to research subjects, research assistants or transcribers
  • Research and/or laboratory costs for research conducted off-campus (at another university, government lab or industry) under the supervision of an advisor who is not a full time faculty member at UD
  • Wages or stipends

Please note that all equipment, supplies, texts, etc., become the property of the Advisor’s Academic Department or Program at the conclusion of the thesis process.

Letter of Support

  • A letter of support from your Honors Thesis Mentor must be included.

  • In addition to discussing the shared background of the advisor and student, and the student's academic prowess, the letter should also address appropriateness of the budget request, and the tangible support the advisor can provide including space, supplies, equipment, and access to contacts necessary for the completion of the research.

  • A letter of support for the thesis proposal is similar to a letter of recommendation, including a discussion of the research project and the advisor's commitment to seeing the student succeed.

  • The Honors Thesis Mentor should submit the letter of support directly to Ramona Speranza via email.

The Palermo Founders Fund

The Palermo Founders Fund was established to honor Dr. Patrick Palermo, the original director of the University Honors Program, and the students with whom he founded the program. This endowed fund provides support for a limited number of University Honors students who undertake Honors thesis projects of exceptional merit. Projects receiving funding must involve one or more of the following:

  • International research
  • Service and leadership in community
  • Work that advances the realization of a just society

These projects are expected to nurture connected learning and scholarship in the distinctive Catholic and Marianist spirit by emphasizing the value of collaborative research, the pursuit of social justice, and leadership and service in the community. In fact, these distinctive thesis projects are often not limited to scholarly research, but commonly incorporate research and service as well.

Students are encouraged to apply for the Palermo Founders Fund based on the merit of the proposal and independent of the amount of the thesis funds being requested in Section VII (see  below). The maximum amount of funding that may be received by a student whose Thesis Research Proposal and Fellowship Application is selected for the Palermo Founders Fund is generally $3000.

Evaluation Guidelines

The student can expect a proposal evaluator to consider this list of questions.

Sample Proposals

Thesis Proposal Sample 1:  Biology

Thesis Proposal Sample 2:  English

Thesis Proposal Sample 3:  Engineering

Thesis Proposal Sample 4:  Psychology

Format for the Thesis Research Proposal and Fellowship Application

  1. The student should download the Cover Sheet (.docx) to be completed and signed by all parties before being scanned and submitted electronically to the UHP.
  2. The student should download the Thesis Proposal Template (.docx):
    • This template includes the requirement information.
    • This template includes the proper double-spaced formatting.
    • Please submit the completed Word document by email to Ramona Speranza.
  3. Please include your last name as part of all electronic document file names.

The letter of support should be emailed to Ramona Speranza directly from the student's Honors Thesis Mentor.

Proposal Submission

All Honors Thesis Proposal and Fellowship Request materials are due April 1 to Ramona Speranza:

  1. Cover Sheet, completed and signed by all parties before being scanned and submitted electronically by email
  2. Thesis Proposal and Fellowship Request Word document submitted electronically by email 
  3. Letter of Support submitted directly from the student's advisor electronically via email
Fellowship awards are announced in early April.