Honors Thesis Guidelines

The Department of Music offers the opportunity to Music majors to write an Honors Thesis in their senior year. With focus on one of our concentrations (Music History and Literature, Music Theory, Composition, Music Business, Music Education, Jazz and Commercial), this advanced project must be a representative work of the students’ scholarship and skills, their mastery of the discipline’s methods, and their knowledge of the literature in the field. Under the expert guidance of a faculty member who will serve as advisor, students explore topics of their scholarly and professional interest, learning how to structure, write, and expose a dissertation project.


The Honors Thesis allows students:

  • to define themselves intellectually with an area of special expertise.
  • to develop a deeper understanding of the issues and methods of their field of study.
  • to enjoy close collaboration with faculty experts.
  • to earn credits in the major and graduate with departmental honors.
  • to develop presentation skills and qualify to present research in the department, at Hofstra on Undergraduate Research Day (in December and May), regionally at the Colonial Academic Alliance undergraduate research conference, and even nationally at professional conferences.
  • to increase their chances for acceptance into graduate school through a polished example of writing and research of greater scope or depth than possible in a seminar. Graduate schools like to see proof of sustained and well-documented research.
  • to develop talking points based on extended research for job interviews.
  • to position themselves to apply for prestigious inter/national postgraduate scholarships.
  • to build confidence in their abilities and knowledge for the future!
  • to earn more detailed, fuller letters of recommendation for subsequent applications for graduate school or grants.

See also: Departmental Honors Thesis


  • Note that the Departmental Honors is distinct from Honors College and does not require membership or participation in Honors College. 
  • Prospective candidates must meet the current GPA requirements (a cumulative GPA of at least 3.4 and at least 3.5 in the major).
  • During their junior year, prospective candidates must discuss their plans with the director of their concentration to agree on an advisor and on a specific topic.
  • In this department, the Honors Thesis is a 3-credit course, listed as MUS 100.
  • To complete an honors project, it is required to take MUS 100 for two semesters. One-semester honors projects must be approved by both the Chair of the Music Department and the thesis advisor and will be granted only as an extraordinary exception.
  • The suggested page length for the Departmental Honors Thesis is between 35 and 50 pages (double-spaced, one-inch margins, Times New Roman font) including References and Appendices (with transcriptions, charts, images, etc.).

Honors Thesis Committee Approval Form: PDF


Semester 1

Weeks 1-2, but preferably prior to the beginning of the semester:

  • Submit the “Departmental Honors Thesis Committee Approval Form” to the office of the Department of Music.
  • This form requires the signature of the student, the thesis advisor, and the Department Chair.
  • The Approval Form should be filed together with a 1-page thesis proposal which includes a research topic and a brief bibliography.
  • No permission for honors will be approved after week 3 of a semester.
  • Constitute the thesis committee. The student should choose a suitable faculty member who will serve as their thesis advisor.
  • The advisor can be from another department, but a minimum of two committee members must be from the Department of Music.
  • If an advisor from another Department is selected, the student needs prior approval from the Chair of the Department of Music. This needs to be completed within the first week of the semester as the HCLAS Deans Office needs to be alerted so that the advisor gets paid.
  • The student should talk to the advisor no later than the first two weeks to get a clear sense of what is expected.

Weeks 3-10:

  • The student should work in close consultation with their thesis advisor.

Week 11 or earlier (end of the first semester):

  • The student must give the advisor a first draft of the thesis.

Semester 2

Weeks 1 – 8

  • Constitute the entire thesis committee. The student and the advisor should work together to choose two suitable faculty members who will serve as readers.
  • The readers should be carefully chosen: their disciplines and areas of expertise should be relevant to the thesis topic and ideally would complement the discipline and expertise of the advisor.
  • The student keeps editing and improving the draft written during the first semester.

Weeks 9-12:

  • The student continues to revise and edit the thesis.
  • During these weeks the members of the advisor will give feedback to the student to help polish the thesis.

Week 13 or earlier:

  • The final draft of the thesis is given to the Departmental Honors Thesis Committee.
  • There must be a minimum of one week between the day in which the draft is submitted and the thesis defense.

Week 14 or earlier:

  • Thesis defense.
  • Any additional changes or revisions must be completed within one week of the defense.
  • The complete corrected and revised thesis must be submitted as a PDF file to the entire Departmental Honors Thesis Committee and to the Department Chair.
  • An electronic copy of the thesis will be placed on the Music Department website.
  • No grade will be awarded prior to submitting the corrected thesis.

Students undertaking the Department honors option should be aware that it is open to only our most talented and committed students. We strongly encourage you to do this option, but it is also a commitment on your part to continue providing the type of excellent work that you have done in the past.

Part of this commitment is to meet all deadlines and complete the work within two semesters. Incompletes will only be granted under the most compelling of circumstances. We will do our utmost effort to provide you with guidance to complete your honors within two semesters. The Honors Thesis is perfect preparation for graduate school or challenges you will face in your career. We strongly hope that all eligible students will embark on the honors process.

Grades for Honors are as follows:

  • High Honors: Exceptional work, original, theoretically and empirically of the highest order
  • Honors: Excellent work, deserving of Departmental Honors
  • No honors: Work not completed or work not of Honors caliber