Honors Program FAQ

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What is Honors in an Area of Study?

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. Thus, an honors project should involve more than merely revising a term paper or project for a course, even if it is the final work for a capstone course. Honors projects may be based on work done for a course, but the student must demonstrate clearly how the scope and substance of the project will advance significantly from the initial work. Each area of study will have its own standards for judging a work as honors, so please consult with faculty members in your area for further information.

Can my project be based on work done entirely outside the College?

In general, yes. Your honors project may be based on a summer research position at another institution, for example. As long as you have the agreement of an on-campus Honors Review Committee in the area of study (including a faculty member willing to serve as director), nothing will stop you from submitting your work for review. Your Honors Committee and/or area of study may have specific requirements about such projects. Please consult with the chair or program director in the area of study for further information.

Are there minimum GPA requirements to be eligible for honors?

Yes, students are eligible for the honors program if they have an overall grade point average of at least 3.20. This is the requirement when the Intent to Complete Honors form is filed. However, at the time of graduation the student must have an overall grade point average of 3.0.

Is there any way to waive the minimum GPA standards?

Petitions to waive any of the minimum standards must be submitted to the ASC by the student with the support of at least two members of the area of study, including the department chair or program director (and the department chair or program director of the student’s major, if different from the proposed honors discipline), and be approved by the ASC on the basis of a written motion which would become a part of the student’s project record.

Can I get academic credit for an honors project?

Most areas of study require the equivalent of a year-long project. Some areas of study allow this to be two independent study projects, one each term. Other areas of study allow only one term to be done for credit; thus one term may be an independent study project and the other must be done as an extracurricular project.

Does a project have to include independent study credit or be completed in any particular way in order to be eligible for honors?

No. Often a student seeking honors will register for an independent study. While an independent study enables a student to pursue an interest, it does not necessarily produce an honors level project. Honors is not something automatically achieved upon the completion of such a course. Honors quality work may originate from projects other than those done for independent studies. Indeed, honors may be achieved entirely outside of regular course work; the quality of the project, not hours successfully completed, earns honors.

I am thinking about an honors project but I don't fully understand what it entails. Is there some way to see what students have done in the past so that I can decide whether or not I want to do one?

The Library maintains a collection of projects done by students who graduated with honors. Copies of projects completed last spring are available on the first floor of the Library. There are also copies of honors projects that are part of the Library’s historical collection. Consult with faculty in your area of study to find out the current expectations for honors work in your discipline.

When can I do an honors project?

An honors project may be done during the junior or senior year. Most often, honors projects are completed during the senior year. In any case, it is best to begin planning your project with your chosen director during the spring and summer prior to the year you will complete honors work. It is possible for a student graduating on December/January to complete an honors project.

What does it mean to graduate with honors?

Receiving honors in an area of study acknowledges that you have achieved an exceptional level of skilled work as an undergraduate in your field. Honors represents not the outstanding accomplishment of a relatively straightforward task, but the successful completion of a difficult challenge of some importance.

In practical terms, what does it mean to graduate with honors?

The fact that you graduated with honors in an area of study will appear in the Commencement Program and on your transcript. In addition, you will receive a certificate with your diploma at graduation.