An honors project represents an extraordinary commitment to exploration of a topic or problem in your area of study outside the parameters of regular classwork. Typically, an honors project is a year-long research or substantial creative work that culminates with a critical review by faculty in the area study as well as by faculty from across the College. This page outlines the steps in the process of completing an honors project.
SPRING TERM AND SUMMER BEFORE THE HONORS-PROJECT YEAR
Students with an overall grade point average of at least 3.20 and a serious interest in sustained work on a topic or problem in their area of study should consider developing a proposal for an honors project. By the end of the spring term of junior year, students should approach a faculty member with ideas for a project and to request that that faculty member act as director of the project. With the faculty director, the student should develop a reading list or a plan for other salient work on the project for over the summer. The student and director should also consult with the Chair or Program Director in the area of study to ascertain what constitutes honors-level work in that area of study.
FALL TERM OF THE HONORS-PROJECT YEAR
The fall term is when much of the work of the project (the research, the reading, the drafting, the experiments) will be completed.
By the first Monday in October, the student should file the Intent to Complete an Honors Project form with the Academic Status Committee (ASC). This form includes the following: (1) a 500-word description of the proposed or in-progress project; (2) names and signatures of the faculty members willing to serve on the project’s Honors Review Committee; and (3) the signature of the Chair or Program Director in the area of study. If the project is based on work done for a capstone or other course, the student must demonstrate how the honors project would significantly advance the work beyond what was completed or will be completed for that course. Guidelines for writing the 500-word description may be found in the FAQ under “Forms and Resources.”
The Honors Review Committee is chaired by the faculty director of the student’s project and must include at least one other faculty member in the area of study. Each area of study may have its own more detailed requirements for the composition of an Honors Review Committee. This committee is charged with determining the honors-worthiness of the project by whatever standard is appropriate in that area of study. Students interested in pursuing honors in an area of study are encouraged to discuss that area’s standards of honors-worthiness with their advisor or department chair or program director early in the process.
The ASC will review all proposals and will respond to each student in a brief letter copied to the director. In particular, the ASC may raise questions that the student may find helpful in preparing to communicate his or her work to a college-wide audience at the Collegiate Review.
INTERSESSION OF THE HONORS-PROJECT YEAR
Intersession offers an excellent opportunity for students working on an honors project to complete research, experiments, and/or writing. There are no official deadlines to meet during Intersession, but the student and director are advised to set reasonable goals in preparation for the honors reviews to come in the spring term.
SPRING TERM OF THE HONORS-PROJECT YEAR
During the first week in March, the student should schedule a date to meet with his or her committee for the Honors Review. At this meeting, the student will present the honors project in the manner recommended by the guidelines or tradition of that area of study and agreed on by his or her Honors Review Committee. If a written report is required, the student should deliver the report to the Honors Review Committee one week prior to the meeting. All Honors Review Committee meetings must be completed by the second Monday in April, the last date to submit the Recommendation for Honors.
If the completed project receives the unanimous approval of the Honors Review Committee members, the student may advance to the Collegiate Review. By the second Monday in April, the project’s director will file the Recommendation for Honors with the ASC. This document includes the signatures of the Honors Review Committee members. The student needs to choose an at-large faculty member for the Collegiate Review Committee and use the Recommendation for Honors form to request this individual. The student must have already received approval from the faculty member. ASC will assign an ASC member to join the committee.
Within a week after the Honors Review, the student should schedule a date, time, and place for the Collegiate Review, a public presentation of the honors project, to take place by the last day of classes in the spring term. At least three days before this presentation, the student should submit to his or her Collegiate Review Committee a 750-word Comprehensive Summary of the project written for an audience of intelligent nonspecialists. Some faculty members serving on this committee may wish to see the entire project (if a written document) in addition to the summary. If so, you should deliver the project to the committee member(s) one week before the review.
The Collegiate Review Committee is chaired by an ASC member and will also include an at-large faculty member and the project’s director. Neither the ASC member nor the member of the faculty-at-large can be from the project’s area of study or any of the student’s majors. By majority vote, this committee will judge the effectiveness of the student’s written and oral communication of the project to a broad audience. By the last day of spring-term classes, the Collegiate Review Committee will submit its one-page Honors Report to the chair of the ASC committee. One unbound hard copy and an electronic copy of the final draft of the honors project (the full written portion of the project or other acceptable documentation of the project) and the title page (found under "Forms and Resources") must also be submitted to the ASC chair.
One week before graduation, the chair of the ASC will send a letter to the President’s Office and the Registrar naming the students who have met the qualifications for honors in their areas of study. When senior grades are due, the chair of the ASC and the Registrar will verify the overall GPA of eligible honors students to determine if they are still meet the approved minimum (3.0 at this stage). The President’s Office will be informed of students whose GPA renders them ineligible. At graduation, students achieving honors in an area study will be specially recognized.