A thesis is a significant, sustained project that is the result of independent thought and intellectual curiosity. It is the expectation that a student's chosen project is in the discipline of their major in CAS (or one of their majors if they have multiple majors).

The thesis should exceed the quality and quantity of scholarly work beyond what is required for a term paper. In the process of completing a thesis, a student identifies a research question; develops methods to answer the question(s); collects, manages, and analyzes data; and disseminates the findings and implications through a thesis defense.

In CAS, a thesis can also be a creative project (when appropriate to the student's major). Please see the FAQ section below for more information about what can be used for a thesis.

This is a separate process from submitting a thesis for the Honors Program.

Thesis Process and Parts

Thesis Prospectus 
The college has an electronic submission process via DocuSign for the Thesis Prospectus. All signers (you, your thesis advisors, and the chair of your major department) will receive a copy once it has been completed and received by the Dean’s office. This is to be turned in a year prior to the intended graduation date. 

Thesis Defense 
After completing the thesis, students must arrange with their two thesis advisors to give an oral defense of their project. Often the defense begins with the student giving a short presentation on the project. This should be completed well before the college’s deadline. 

Students should email a copy of their final thesis to cas-distinction@unl.edu with their name and NU ID in the subject line by the due date (see timeline below). 

Thesis Evaluation Form 
The student initiates the Thesis Evaluation Form in DocuSign by entering their information and the two thesis advisors’ information. The form then routes to each advisor in turn who will complete the evaluation and sign. The Thesis Evaluation is composed of two parts:

  • Evaluation of thesis or creative effort: Please justify your evaluation in detail and include a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the project.
  • Evaluation of examination: If the examination was oral, identify the areas of subject matter covered. If the examination was written, a copy of the questions and answers must accompany this report. Please com­ment on the strengths and weaknesses of the student's performance in either case.

Once both advisors have signed, the form will automatically route to the Dean’s office. The student and thesis advisors will receive a copy of the completed form. This should be completed before the college’s deadline for thesis materials. 

CASC 99 Undergraduate Thesis 
Students who submit a thesis to CAS and successfully defend it to their two thesis advisors will be automatically enrolled in CASC 99. This course represents the significant intellectual work involved in the process: planning, documenting, presenting and defending, and reflecting; it earns students experiential learning credit and documents the accomplishment on the transcript. 

Due Dates Based on Tentative Graduation Dates

Students should allow a year for the entire process of planning, conducting research, and writing a thesis.

Thesis Prospectus Due Dates

  • December Graduation: October 31st the year prior to the intended graduation.
  • May Graduation: March 31st the year prior to the intended graduation.
  • August Graduation: July 31st the year prior to the intended graduation.

Thesis, Thesis Defense, and Thesis Evaluation Form Due Dates
The college deadline is eight weeks prior to the Monday following commencement, except for the August commencement in which case the deadline is four weeks prior to the Friday before commencement.

Students are responsible for developing a timeline with their two thesis advisors to ensure time to read the thesis, conduct the oral defense, and submit the paperwork before the college deadline.

The following are the dates on which materials are due in the Dean's Office for the next several graduation periods. These dates are based on the formula mentioned above and will be updated as actual graduation dates are posted by the Registrar's office.

Expected Graduation DateThesis Prospectus Due Date*Thesis and Thesis Evaluation Due Date**
May 2024 March 31, 2023 March 25, 2024
August 2024 July 31, 2023 July 19, 2024
December 2024 October 31, 2023 October 28, 2024
May 2025 March 31, 2024 March 31, 2025
August 2025 July 31, 2024 July 18, 2025
December 2025 October 31, 2024 November 10, 2025
May 2026 March 31, 2025 March 30, 2026
August 2026 July 31, 2025 July 17, 2026
December 2026 October 31, 2025 November 9, 2026
May 2027 March 31, 2026 March 29, 2027
August 2027 July 31, 2026 July 16, 2027
December 2027 October 31, 2026 November 8, 2027

* If you cannot meet this deadline, please reach out to cas-distinction@unl.edu. We may be able to accommodate a late submission for the Thesis Prospectus.

** This is a firm deadline due to deadlines the college must meet with the Office of the University Registrar.

Steps for the Student

Year Prior to Graduation 

  1. Complete your part of the Thesis Prospectus form through DocuSign. It will route to your thesis advisors and your major department chair. You are required to use your university email address (@huskers.unl.edu) for the college to accept your email submission. 

  1. Begin research. Research in many areas/fields takes time to plan and conduct, so start early!

Semester of Graduation 

  1. Complete thesis project. 

  1. Submit thesis to thesis advisors with sufficient time to meet distinction deadlines. Typically, this is at least two weeks prior to the college due date. 

  1. Start the Thesis Evaluation Form by filling in your advisors’ information (it will route to them to complete).  

  1. Successfully defend your thesis to your thesis advisors before the college due date.  

  1. Submit final thesis to cas-distinction@unl.edu.

Thesis outside of your major 
To write your thesis outside your major, please see the FAQ section and contact the CAS Dean’s Office at cas-distinction@unl.edu regarding the process for approval.

Expectations for the Advisors and Unit


Before signing the thesis prospectus, discuss the following with the student:

  • the student's plan for the project as described in the Thesis Prospectus
  • the minimum GPA requirements of 3.500 for distinction and whether the student expects to meet this requirement.
  • the college committee determines the level of distinction by using the cumulative grade point average based on all credit hours taken at UNL prior to the beginning of the term in which the student receives his or her degree. Incomplete coursework and classes from the current term are not included in the determination of level of distinction.
  • any additional policies or requirements set by the major department/program.

Semester of Graduation

  1. Continue supervising the student's research.
  2. Oversee the thesis defense.
  3. Jointly evaluate the thesis and quality of the thesis defense on Thesis Evaluation Form.

Chair/Director of Major Department/Program

Chairs/directors certify both thesis advisors listed are appropriate to advise the proposed thesis for this major.

  • At least one advisor must hold the title of assistant professor/professor of practice, associate professor/professor of practice or professor/professor of practice.
  • Multi-year lecturers and instructional staff (excluding graduate students), with approval from the major department, may serve as one of the co-advisors.
  • At least one of the thesis advisors must be from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Thesis FAQ

Who can submit a thesis?

Any student in CAS can submit a thesis to earn experiential learning credit; they do not need to be eligible for distinction nor do they need to be in the Honors Program. Because it is a substantial undertaking, students should plan ahead: submit a prospectus approximately a year before the thesis will be due, and work closely with their two thesis advisors.

To be considered for Distinction with a thesis, a student must have a minimum of a 3.500 cumulative GPA of UNL hours the term prior to their graduation.

Can a student in the Honors Program use the same project for both CAS Distinction and the Honors Program?

CAS and the Honors Program have separate processes for submitting a thesis, but a student can use the same project for both processes. For CAS Distinction, the student must follow all CAS processes outlined here.

Can a final project for a course (ACE 10, capstone, or other upper division course) count as a thesis?

No. A final project for a course is not sufficient for a thesis; it can, however, serve as a starting point for a thesis project that is then extended under the guidance of two thesis advisors.

What form can a thesis take?

Most often, a thesis is a long text that follows the conventions of the student's major (or, if approved to write outside the major, the thesis follows the conventions of the discipline of the project).

Students, working closely with their two thesis advisors, may develop a project that takes a form other than a traditional thesis (e.g. they may develop video, audio, or web-based project), but the research, knowledge, effort, and quality of work should be comparable to that of a thesis in the discipline.

What are some examples of non-traditional theses that have been approved?
  • A translation of texts in French literature and accompanied by a scholarly piece on the translation process
  • An extensive collection of exhibits to demonstrate one phase of the evolution of the process of photography, accompanied by a lengthy historical background that includes references
  • A screenplay
  • A web page posting a student's translation (created using digital tools) of an ancient Greek or Latin text, with an annotated syntactic tree, an historical and grammatical commentary on the work, and a detailed bibliography

In short, the effort must have a significant scholarly component, but it need not be in the format of a traditional thesis provided the major department and thesis advisors approve the project in the prospectus.

Can I use an article that I have published as a thesis?

It depends on the venue for the publication and the placement of the student in the order of authors listed. Contact cas-distinction@unl.edu with specific questions.

Can a literature review count as a thesis?

No. A literature review about a particular topic is not sufficient. Ideally, there should be a clear formulation of a problem or question, scholarly study which illuminates or addresses it, and a conclusion supported by evidence. A bibliography and reference to existing research in the field should be included as appropriate.

Can a thesis take the form of a presentation?

No. While students often begin their thesis defense by giving a short presentation on their project, the presentation is not a sufficient format for the thesis. Students must also write a document following the conventions of the discipline of the project.

Can I write a thesis outside my major?

A student can request to write a thesis outside their major; they must have completed sufficient relevant coursework in the project's discipline to be successful. Please contact the CAS Dean's Office at cas-distinction@unl.edu regarding the process.

Who can advise a thesis?

At least one advisor must hold the title of assistant professor/professor of practice, associate professor/professor of practice or professor/professor of practice. Multi-year lecturers and instructional staff (excluding graduate students), with approval from the major department, may serve as one of the co-advisors. At least one of the thesis advisors must be from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Can the thesis defense be waived?

No. The thesis defense is a vital element of the thesis process; it enables the student to fully demonstrate their command of their project and ability to respond to questions about it. Additionally, the thesis defense provides an element that ensures the student's project meets experiential learning requirements.

My question is not listed. Who should I contact?

Please write to cas-distinction@unl.edu with any questions you may have. Please use your Husker email and put your name and NUID in the subject line.


You are required to use your university email address (@huskers.unl.edu) for the college to accept your submission. See due dates for deadlines.