Honors Thesis Program in the College of Management
Starting and completing a Senior Honors Thesis is one of the most exciting and challenging tasks a student can pursue at the College of Management. An Honors Thesis represents the culmination of a successful academic career; it offers an opportunity to integrate all the knowledge and skills learned to date, while pushing students to apply that knowledge to an issue that is specific and relevant. Honors Thesis students work with an esteemed faculty from one of the Management disciplines: Finance, Accounting, Management, Marketing, Information Science and Operations. This mentoring relationship between student and faculty can bring out the best in both, sometimes leading to a collaboration that is published in an academic journal for other professionals in the field, or in a journal of practice for executives, managers and policy-makers at the leading edge of business.
The College of Management Honors Thesis program is open to seniors who have demonstrated excellence in core courses and in their major concentration. Specifically, to apply for the program students must have a University GPA of 3.25 or above and a College of Management GPA of 3.50 or above. Eligible students will apply for the program in the Spring of the year before graduation; all applications are reviewed by the Honors Program Director and approved based on students’ breadth of academic and professional experience, and expressed interest (read passion) for the program.
The program is a two-course sequence (6 credits total) that leads to a Senior Honors Thesis. In the initial course (Fall semester), students will develop skills to identify an interesting topic area, generate a realistic research question, select a good sample, and initiate the full process of data collection and analysis to answer that question. In the following course (Spring semester), students carry out their project under the supervision of the Honors Program Director, and in collaboration with their Faculty Research Adviser, whom they will select early in the Fall term.
In addition to other requirements along the way, students will present the findings from their Honors Thesis at the Massachusetts Undergraduate Thesis Conference in the Spring [see ]http://webapp.comcol.umass.edu/msc/], or for faculty and students at the College of Management. Those students that complete the entire CM Honors Thesis will result in a notation of Graduated with Management Honors on the official transcript, upon graduation.
Types of Honors Theses
Research Thesis: The library research thesis requires CM Honors students to complete a written work that adds substantially to the knowledge or understanding in the student’s field. This work may address a problem or issue that has not been adequately addressed in the research literature or has not been addressed from the particular perspective taken by the student. The thesis goes beyond reporting on research done by others to include the student’s own creative and critical thinking supported by material gained from library and archival research.
Primary Research Thesis: A primary research thesis explores a specific topic that interests the student and their Faculty Research Advisor. Through a detailed review of the relevant literature, the student will develop a research question whose answer would add to the current state of knowledge in the field of interest. Depending on the topic, data may come from a published data base (e.g. COMPUSTAT), or from surveys, interviews, or fieldwork. With support from the student’s Adviser, the student will pursue these additional elements of a full research project, including choosing the appropriate sample, collecting data, pursuing a qualitative or quantitative analysis, and interpreting findings in ways that competently answer the research question. The outcome is a paper that conforms to the requirements of a publishable paper, generally 30+ pages of text (with citations) and bibliography.
Problem-Solving Thesis: The problem-solving thesis requires CM Honors students to evaluate and respond to a particular problem or concern. A wide variety of options fit this approach. For example, in the area of marketing, a problem-solving thesis problem might be focused on evaluating the current image of a product or service and developing a marketing campaign to enhance that image for a client organization in the community. Such projects also might include: developing an accounting system and training program for a small business; developing and implementing a marketing campaign or strategic business development plan for a particular company, and so on. The thesis goes beyond presenting plans and systems developed by others to include the student’s own creative and critical thinking supported by material gained from library or fieldwork research.