The thesis is an intellectual and practical learning experience providing students the opportunity to conduct original research and to engage in what it means to be a scholar-practitioner. The thesis consists of 3 classes, 6 credit hours; a committee, including the supervisor and two faculty members who all must be satisfied with the student’s work; and the thesis defense; not to mention numerous meetings, and a great deal of reading, writing, thinking. The Distinguished Thesis Award is an annual recognition of an excellent thesis often characterized by a unique methodological design, a topic that addresses an important problem, and scholarship that makes a significant contribution to the field of higher education.

The Department of Higher Education and Student Development is proud to recognize one individual from each graduating class for his or her exceptional master’s thesis.


Thesis from 2018


Paradigm or Paradox? Student Consumerism and Learning at a Liberal Arts Institution, Jessica L. Martin

Thesis from 2017


The Quiet Call: A Grounded Theory Exploration of Vocational Development and Introversion in College Students, Alex T. Crist

Thesis from 2016


Quantitative Reasoning in the Numbers: A Qualitative Study of Trends in Higher Education Mathematics Curriculum, Julia C. VanderMolen

Thesis from 2015


A Culture that Aspires, A Culture that Inspires: A Case Study Analysis of the Calvin College Philosophy Department, Hannah M. Adderley

Thesis from 2014


In Pursuit of Purpose: The Effects of Involvement on the Development of Calling in College Students, Jeffry T. Aupperle

Thesis from 2013


A Model of Faith-Learning Integration in Exemplary Teaching Faculty, Kathryn A. Westrate

Thesis from 2012


Spiritual Expectations and Experiences of Students at a Faith-Based Institution, Jessica A. Fankhauser

Thesis from 2010


Mercy, Not Sacrifice: College Student Spirituality and Social Concern and Action, Philip D. Byers

Thesis from 2009


Development of the Social Justice Orientation Scale, Benjamin R. Taylor