Jump to a step:

  1. Introduction
  2. Honors Program Eligibility and Admission Criteria
  3. Honors Program Requirements
  4. Steps to Apply for Honors
  5. Additional Resources
  6. Past Honors Theses

1. Introduction

The Stanford Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) invites undergraduate students from all majors to apply for admission to its Honors Program. The innovative research projects carried out by STS honors students since the program was launched in 1978 represent meaningful achievements for their authors and academic advisors. Honors projects have also served students well after graduation, providing a springboard for graduate studies and for careers in fields such as information technology, entrepreneurship, finance, public policy, media, education, law, medicine and the nonprofit sector. Not only do honors students become experts in a specialized field of interest, but the honors designation signifies intellectual rigor and a demonstrated ability to pursue original research. These skills are broadly marketable, even outside of the specific area of expertise, and serve individuals well upon graduating from college.

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2. Honors program eligibility and admission criteria

Eligibility and Admission Criteria for STS Majors

STS majors must meet the following criteria at the beginning of their senior year to be eligible to apply for honors:

  1. Find an honors faculty advisor and develop research questions, methodology and plan.
  2. Attend at least one of the quarterly STS workshops offered for prospective honors students, and/or take STS 191: Introduction to Research in STS, and/or speak with the STS Associate Director
  3. Submit a complete honors program application and research proposal.

Eligibility and Admission Criteria for Majors in Other Departments and Programs

Non-STS majors must meet the following criteria at the beginning of their senior year to be eligible to apply for honors:

  1. Find an honors faculty advisor and develop research questions, methodology and plan
  2. Attend one or more of the quarterly STS workshops offered for prospective honors students, and/or take STS 191: Introduction to Research in STS (offered in winter), and/or an alternative course on research methods approved by the STS Associate Director. Non-majors are encouraged to speak with the Associate Director as early as possible to ensure that you have sufficient background in relevant methodology.
  3. Satisfy one of the following: (a) Complete STS 1, and two courses approved as Socio-Cultural Foundational courses in the Requirements and Approved Courses document, (b) STS 1, and two alternative courses approved by the STS Associate Director as relevant to the proposed honors research in STS; (c) complete three courses approved by the STS Associate Director as relevant to the proposed honors research in STS
  4. Submit an honors program application, following the application and proposal parameters set out in the document of the STS Honors Program, available on the STS web site.

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3. Honors program requirements

To graduate with honors, seniors in the honors program must meet the following criteria:

  1. Attend required monthly workshop for current STS honors faculty adviser.
  2. Develop an original and complete thesis in consultation with honors faculty adviser.
  3. Enroll in a minimum of 10 units total of STS 299, advanced individual work sections, with your honors faculty advisor to receive credit for your research and thesis writing. Deliverables and deadlines should be negotiated directly with your honors faculty advisor. (You may enroll in up to 5 units per quarter of STS 299.)
  4. Submit a first draft of thesis to honors adviser no later than April 1.
  5. Submit the final thesis to honors adviser by May 1.
  6. Earn at least a grade 'B' on final thesis.
  7. Have an overall Stanford GPA of 3.4 at the end of Winter Quarter, senior year, or demonstrated academic competence.

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4. steps to apply for honors


You will need to find an honors faculty advisor who is a member of the Stanford Academic Council (e.g., Assistant, Associate or Full Professor). Faculty affiliations / ranks can be found in the StanfordWho directory. Your advisor does not need to be directly affiliated with STS but they should have expertise related to your project.

You should begin to identify an honors advisor as early as possible in your junior year. This person is ideally someone you have taken a class with in the past or for whom you served as a research assistant. If you are reaching out to a faculty member whom you do not already know, it is important to read some of their research and acquaint yourself with their areas of expertise before approaching them to ask if they are willing to serve as your advisor. If you are struggling to identify an appropriate advisor, look in Explore Courses for courses that relate to your area(s) of interest. Talk to your STS faculty advisor, who may know of other faculty who are well suited to advise your planned honors project. Take time to learn about both the research methods and mentoring style of your potential advisors. 

The typical faculty member is exceptionally busy teaching, doing research, writing articles and grant applications and advising students. You should do research to find out when the faculty member(s) you are hoping to work with have office hours, whether they require an advance appointment and arrange a meeting accordingly.  When you meet with a faculty member for the first time, initiate a conversation with specific questions and use the meeting not only to gain direction in your research but also to get a sense of an advisor’s mentoring style. How often is he or she willing to meet with you? Does she or he offer a good mix of constructive criticism and guidance? It is better to take these steps at the beginning of your project than to struggle with less-than-satisfactory advising arrangements for the duration of your thesis writing. In managing an advisor relationship, aim for a balance: take the initiative in your research and writing, but do not hesitate to ask for help, from both advisors and peers. 


Your research proposal should be 10-20 pages, double-spaced, and include your name, the date and the title of your proposal. The proposal should include the following sections and should show that you have conducted initial secondary research and have consulted with your planned honors advisor on the research plan and methods:

  • Research Objectives and Questions. What are your primary research questions and objectives? Why are they important? 
  • Literature Review. How have others addressed your research question(s) or similar ones? Whose work are you building on, and why will your research be different? (Be sure to cite specific scholarly sources. These will be listed at the end of the proposal in the References.)
  • Methods. How will you do research that addresses your question? Be as SPECIFIC as you possibly can. You will probably need to address a small slice of your major question, by doing a case study or comparing a few case studies. Try to identify a specific research site (i.e., a specific scientific finding or technology, a particular geographic or political context, a company, an Internet forum, a set of primary documents, etc). Explain what methods you will use; for example, surveys, interviews, discourse analysis, or something else entirely.
  • Conclusion. Restate the research contribution you hope to make. What sorts of things will we know after you've written your thesis that we didn't know before?
  • References. Full bibliographic information for all works cited in your proposal should be listed at the end of your proposal.


Students are able to apply to the honors program during the Spring quarter of their Junior Year and up to October 1st of their Senior year. The application (final page of this document) requires the signature of your chosen honors faculty advisor who has read your research proposal and agrees to oversee your research and writing senior year. The application and research proposal should be submitted together. 

The Honors Information & Application Form is located in the Forms & Policies page.


  • You must complete the STS core curriculum by the end of your junior year (not including STS 299).
  • You must enroll in a minimum of 10 units total of STS 299, advanced individual work sections, during your senior year. For assistance enrolling in a section directly with your faculty advisor, please contact the STS Undergraduate Advisor. (You may enroll in up to 5 units per quarter of STS 299).
  • You must have an overall Stanford GPA of 3.4 in the Spring quarter of your senior year or demonstrated academic competence to graduate with honors.


Write and complete an original 50-100 page, double-spaced thesis on the topic you proposed in your initial application and research proposal and in consultation with your advisor. Stay on track throughout the year with research and writing. The specific spring quarter deadlines are as follows:

April 1, 2016 – Draft of your thesis due to your advisor.

May 1st, 2016 – Your final thesis is due and must be submitted in three forms: one copy to your honors faculty advisor, one PDF copy emailed to the STS Undergraduate Advisor, and one bound copy turned in to the STS Office. This deadline allows your faculty advisor to nominate your honors thesis for a university award, such as the Firestone Award, if they so choose.

June 1st, 2016: Honors faculty advisor must submit finial thesis evaluation and grade to the STS office.

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Students are strongly advised to learn about the following opportunities and research requirements:

  • STS Designated Writing Specialist, Kevin Dipirro, is available to assist with brainstorming, researching, organizing, grant proposals and drafting an honors thesis.
  • HWC Honors Writing Program. The Hume Writing Center (HWC) provides writing support during the entire thesis process, including brainstorming, researching, organizing, and drafting an honors thesis or other advanced writing project.
  • Working with faculty. Tips for choosing faculty advisers and establishing positive working agreements.
  • Grants for undergraduate research. If you will need to travel or pay other research-related expenses, consider applying for a grant from the Undergraduate Research and Advising Program. Application deadlines.
  • Human subjects research. If your research will involve people (interviews, questionnaires, experimental situations) you need to comply with University Policies on Research and may need to obtain approval of a research protocol. 

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6. past honors theses

Past honors projects are on file in the STS Office.