General Information

Environmental Studies majors with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.50 at the end of the January term of the junior year or with special program approval are eligible to apply for the Environmental Studies Honors Research Program.

Successful completion of the Honors Program will include an oral presentation at the Colby Undergraduate Research Symposium, a successful oral thesis defense, and an approved thesis as well as the completion of the required course work for the major. The student fulfilling these requirements will graduate “With Honors in Environmental Studies.” The decision whether or not the student will be approved to convert their fall semester seminar or independent study project to an honors project in the spring semester and continue in the ES Honors Program by enrolling in ES 484 will be made at the end of the first semester. In cases where requirements for Honors have not been fulfilled at the end of the spring semester, ES 484 (Honors Research) will revert to a graded ES 492 (Independent Study).


Honors Application Procedure

Interested students should contact a faculty sponsor during the spring semester of their junior year to discuss a project. Before the end of spring registration, students should secure a faculty sponsor and a faculty reader for their research project. Students who are studying abroad in the spring should try to make initial contact with a potential sponsor in the spring via email, but may complete their proposal in the fall at the beginning of the academic year.  The student must then petition the program for permission to undertake honors work. With approval from the program, students can register for Environmental Studies 491.

Students wishing to change their honors project topic must petition the program for approval of the new topic. Honors research projects will be a total of eight credits and will be conducted during the student’s last two academic semesters (and may include Jan Plan). Also, students enrolled in Environmental Studies 493 or ES 494 may petition the program to expand their independent study for these courses into an honors project to be conducted in January and the spring semester.


Dates and Deadlines for Honors in Environmental Studies

Spring Semester – Junior Year
Environmental Studies majors interested in participating in the ES Honor Research
Program are encouraged to contact potential faculty sponsors during the spring semester of their Junior year (or Fall semester, if they are studying abroad). Students should consider possible research topics, eligibility requirements, and how this program will fit with their other major and college requirements.

Fall Semester – Senior Year
Early September:
Candidates must complete their registration for honors work by registering for ES 491 by the last day to add courses. They must also confirm their faculty sponsor and reader to the ES Program Director.


Candidates must submit a formal thesis proposal to their faculty sponsor and reader by the last Friday in September.  This proposal, normally around four pages, would identify the specific research question to be addressed, the evidence on which the analysis will be based and the complete research design explaining how this evidence will be used to address the identified question.

Last Day of Classes:
A summary of the work completed so far including a preliminary literature review, a detailed formal research design that describes the specific remaining work to be accomplished during the second semester, and a listing of significant references identified should be submitted to the ES Program for approval no later than last day of classes. The decision whether or not the student will be approved to convert their seminar or independent study project to an honors project in the spring semester and continue in the ES Honors Program will be made before end of final exam period.

Spring Semester – Senior Year
Environmental Studies Program Director and the faculty sponsor in consultation with the honors candidate select a third person to participate in the oral thesis defense.

First complete draft is due to the faculty sponsor and the reader on the Friday before spring break.

Penultimate draft is due to the faculty sponsor on the second Friday in April.

Colby Liberal Arts Symposium:
The honors candidate will give an oral presentation at CLAS (typically 30 minutes). Final draft of the honors research report is due to the sponsor, the reader, and the outside reviewer.

Early May:
The oral thesis defense will be held before the beginning of finals.  Students will be asked to give a 10-minute summary of their thesis work and to answer questions from the thesis committee.  The faculty sponsor, the reader, and the outside reviewer will participate.  At the end of the defense, the faculty sponsor will review the committee decision and any changes to the thesis mandated by the committee with the honors candidate.

Last Day of Classes:
Thesis is due to faculty sponsor for final format review.

Before the End of the Finals Period:
Students must submit six copies of their honors thesis in proper format on standard thesis paper of at least 25% rag content (see Preparation of Thesis Copies below).


Preparation of Thesis Copies

Once you have passed your oral thesis defense and completed all required revisions of your thesis, you must prepare you thesis for printing and archiving.  Thesis formatting guidelines are very important.  Please review with our faculty advisor.  Before the end of the final exam period, students must submit four copies of their honors thesis in proper format on standard thesis paper.

  • Use standard thesis paper of at least 25% rag content (not regular printer paper). The ES Program will provide the paper.
  • A margin of 1-1/2″ on the left and 1″ on the right of the page is required.
  • Use Times New Roman  font at 12 point for all text, headings, and subheadings.
  • Use 1.5 line  spacing your text, but table text can be single spaced. Also single space any footnotes and the literature cited section.
  • The first level of headings should be in bold and caps. If you use subheadings, the second level of subheadings should be in bold but lower case (execpt for the first letter of each word excluding articles and prepositions), and the third level not bold but in italics, and the third level not bold but in italics (the first letter of each word excluding articles and prepositions should be capitalized).
  • All headings should be left justified.
  • The indent at the beginning of paragraphs should be the equivalent of five spaces.
  • Use hanging indents for references (i.e., indent the second and subsequent lines of each reference listed in the literature cited section by two spaces.  Students using Endnote should select the Ecology Endnote style.  Single space each reference and add a blank line between each reference.  Students should consult with their thesis advisor about proper format for citations.  Policy students may choose to follow the guidelines in the document “Literature_Cited POLICY guidelines” and science students may choose to follow the guidelines in the document “Literature_Cited SCIENCE guidelines” available on the Google Drive in the folder labeled “ES Honors Thesis Guidelines.”
  • Figures and tables should follow the format outlined in the “Figures Table style guide” document available on the Google Drive in the folder labeled “ES Honors Thesis Guidelines.”
  • Complete the Title Page.  A title page template is available on the Google Drive in the folder labeled “ES Honors Thesis Guidelines.”
  • On the back of the Title Page, include a centered Copyright Statement: “Copyright © YEAR by the Environmental Studies Program, Colby College. All rights reserved.”
  • The order of the thesis section is: Title Page, Abstract, Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, [body of thesis], Personal Communications, Literature Cited, and Appendices.  The heading for each of these sections should be in bold, all caps, and left justified.  A blank row should be placed below each section heading.
  • The Title Page should be followed by an Abstract and an Acknowledgements section, both of which should be printed on separate pages with nothing on the reverse side.
  • Page numbering (except for the first page) should be centered at the bottom of the page.
  • For the Abstract, Acknowledgements and Table of Contents, number using i. ii, iii, etc.
  • The Table of Contents can be auto-generated in Microsoft Word. Table of Contents should: be single spaced, have numbers right justified, dots connecting text and numbers, indents for subheadings, and no bold headings.
  • Print your thesis double sided.
  • Collect the signature of each of the three committee members on the Title Page.

Delivery of Thesis Materials for Archiving

Submit four original copies of the honors thesis to Leslie Lima (Diamond 110) for archiving in the ES Program and for the student and faculty sponsor.  The ES Program will arrange for thesis copies to be bound, and a bound copy will be sent to the student.  Also, upload your thesis in two forms, as a Word document and as a pdf, to the folder on the Google Drive labeled “ES Honors Thesis Submission,” which will be shared with you.

Honors Theses are also deposited and maintained in Digital Commons @ Colby, the libraries’ archives of select scholarly and creative works as well as the college’s special collections and archives.

Collection Links:

How to Upload Your Thesis to Digital Commons @ Colby

Please prepare the following in advance:

  • Descriptive information: you will be asked to provide an abstract as well as search keywords and basic description of your project (title, department, disciplines, etc.).
  • Access level: you will be asked to choose from the following access levels:
    • Open access
    • Colby-only access
    • Embargo period (unavailable for one or two years, then open access)
  • Advisor approval: the libraries assume that you have discussed and agreed on access options with your advisor prior to submission.
  • Electronic file of your thesis or Senior Scholars project, along with any supporting files (data, illustrations, etc.) that you wish to include.
    • File format: PDF is recommended but not required.  Other document formats (such as Word) will be auto-converted to PDF.  This process occasionally produces errors in the formatting of tables, graphs, or charts.
    • Versions: If your paper is not completely finished at the time of initial submission you have the option to upload a revision prior to final publishing.

Step-by Step Instructions:

  1.  Create a Digital Commons account: (You can use either your Colby or a personal email address.  If you use a long-term personal email address you will continue to receive author download reports beyond the expiration of you Colby email account.)
  2.   After your account is activated, go to the Submit Research page:  Select Honors Theses.
  3.   Follow the on-screen instructions to submit your paper.
  4. Your rights, responsibilities and permissions as an author will be conveyed via the Digital Commons @ Colby submission agreement:

After you have made your submission, your advisor will be notified and asked to sign off by way of a brief email reply.  Once your advisor’s approval has been received, library staff will complete the process and you will be notified by email.

The Colby College Libraries acknowledge that the intellectual rights for each Honors Thesis remain with the author.  However, the act of depositing these materials with the Colby College Libraries indicates a willingness by the author to share her/his work with the Colby community and with the general public.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Martin Kelly, Digital Collections Librarian:

Lisa McDaniels, Assistant Director for Scholarly Resources and Services: