Thesis Projects / Graduating with Distinction

Form Download

December 2020 Graduation Deadlines

  • Contract and Abstract:
    Dec. 2, 2019
  • Thesis Project and Evaluations:
    Sep. 14, 2020

May 2021 Graduation Deadlines

  • Contract and Abstract:
    May 8, 2020
  • Thesis Project and Evaluations:
    Jan. 29, 2021

August 2021 Graduation Deadlines

  • Contract and Abstract:
    Sept. 4, 2020
  • Thesis Project and Evaluations:
    June 14, 2021

December 2021 Graduation Deadlines

  • Contract and Abstract:
    Dec. 4, 2020
  • Thesis Project and Evaluations:
    Sept. 17, 2021

May 2022 Graduation Deadlines

  • Contract and Abstract:
    Apr. 18, 2021
  • Thesis Project and Evaluations:
    Jan. 28, 2022

December 2022 Graduation Deadlines

  • Contract and Abstract:
    Dec. 3, 2021
  • Thesis Project and Evaluations:
    Sept. 16, 2022

Graduation with distinction recognizes those undergraduate students who have truly distinguished themselves academically. All graduating students are considered for Distinction and High Distinction based on GPA and academic record. In addition, students may submit a thesis project to be considered for Distinction, High Distinction, or Highest Distinction. Recommendations are made by the College Academic Distinctions and Awards Committee. Click on the "Form Download" link above for the full guidelines and the Thesis Project Proposal and Thesis Project Evaluation forms.

Distinction Categories and Requirements

Distinction level

Minimum GPA without thesis project

Minimum GPA with thesis project




High Distinction



Highest Distinction




GPA is determined from cumulative GPA as of the semester preceding graduation. Thesis projects must be deemed acceptable by the Academic Distinctions and Awards Committee.


In addition to minimum GPA, the Committee also considers:

  • the general quality and breadth of the program
  • the quality of any transfer credit hours
  • the number of 300/400-level courses
  • the number of courses taken P/N
  • the number of courses retaken to remove D grades
  • the amount of graded course work taken while registered in the College, normally expected to be at least the last 48 credit hours

It is possible for a student to exceed the minimum GPA and still not receive a recommendation for distinction. Students must remove all incompletes by the end of the 8th week of classes in the term preceding graduation in order to be considered for recognition. 

Thesis Projects

 Thesis Scope and Content 
  • The thesis project should be substantially more extensive than a term paper. Final projects for ACE 10 or capstone courses do not in themselves constitute a thesis; they may serve as a foundation for further work pursued under the direction of thesis advisors. 
  • The thesis must be the result of independent, sustained thought, and intellectual curiosity. A survey of the literature about a particular topic is not sufficient.
  • All of the following elements are required:
    • a clear formulation of a problem, question, or project;
    • a scholarly study which illuminates it; and
    • a conclusion supported by evidence.
  • The thesis should be well written, carefully proofread, and well presented.
  • A one-page abstract must be included at the front of the thesis.
  • A bibliography and citations of existing literature in the field should be included where appropriate.
  • Although thesis projects may be highly specialized, they should be written so that they can be understood by a non-specialist in the field – or, at the very least, define the discipline-specific terms used – since the review committee consists of faculty and students from different disciplines.
  • Students in the UNL Honors Program may submit the same thesis project to the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and to the Honors Program. 
Creative Activity in Thesis Projects 

Many of the students in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts are more engaged in creative activity than in traditional research scholarship. Thesis projects that are centered on creative activity are possible, but must have a significant written component that is closely connected to the creative component. Some examples of past thesis projects are:

  • the arrangement of a particular symphony and a detailed description of the process of composing arrangements with literary references
  • the creation of a portfolio of photographic works accompanied by a lengthy historical analysis
  • a complete set of costume designs with detailed information about the design, research and garment building process and photographs of the realized costumes

Because graduation with distinction recognizes academic achievement, it is important that the written component of the project demonstrate the student’s academic strengths. 

Thesis Timeline

Because of Registrar’s Office deadlines, thesis projects must be submitted to the College well before graduation. The expected scope of thesis projects means that students should begin formulating the project during their junior year. The following deadlines are established:

Expected graduation

Thesis contract due

Thesis and reviews due

December 2018

April 16, 2018

October 1, 2018

May 2019

April 30, 2018

January 31, 2019

August 2019

September 3, 2018

June 14, 2019

December 2019

December 3, 2018

September 16, 2019

May 2020

April 15, 2019

January 31, 2020


The Academic Distinction and Awards Committee will not consider materials submitted after the stated deadlines.

Procedure for Students
  • Year prior to graduation:
    • Identify faculty advisor and second reader
    • Submit Thesis Proposal Form with required signatures and abstract to Dean’s Office by stated deadline
    • Begin research. Research and creative projects take a great deal of time, so start early!
  • Semester prior to graduation:
    • Register for 499 or 499H in major area
    • Continue research or creative activity
    • Write thesis with input from advisor
  • Semester of graduation:
    • Complete thesis project
    • Submit thesis to advisor and second reader at least two weeks before thesis submission deadline
    • Submit thesis to Dean’s Office and ensure that advisor and second reader submit reviews to the Dean’s Office by thesis submission deadline 
Thesis Supervisor and Second Reader 

Students should make arrangements with a faculty member to supervise the thesis project and find a second reader who will offer guidance and a review. The responsibilities of the thesis supervisor are:

  • Offer guidance to the student throughout the duration of the project
  • Encourage students to conduct research and writing in a timely manner
  • Ensure that students meet the required deadlines
  • Provide written comments on the completed thesis and submit to the Academic Distinctions and Awards Committee, addressing specifically the extent to which the thesis project meets the requirements listed above.