Graduating with Distinction & Thesis Projects

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.

Download the Guidelines & Thesis Form (PDF)
Graduation with Distinction Thesis Timeline
Expected Graduation Thesis Contract Due Thesis and Reviews Due
December 2021 December 4, 2020 September 17, 2021
May 2022 April 16, 2021 January 28, 2022
August 2022 September 9, 2021 June 10, 2022
December 2022 December 3, 2021 September 16, 2022
May 2023 April 15, 2022 January 27, 2023
August 2023 September 8, 2022 June 9, 2023
December 2023 December 2, 2022 September 15, 2023

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

Distinction

3.8

3.5

High Distinction

3.9

3.8

Highest Distinction

N/A

3.9

 

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. 

 

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.