Departmental Honors

Application Process

Help us go paperless:
Departmental Honors proposals and supporting documentation should be submitted via email to:

A. Determine if you wish to pursue departmental honors:

  1. What topics interest you? In what field or fields of study?
  2. What professors are possible supervisors?
  3. What do seniors doing honors work say about the program?

B. Determine if you are eligible:

  1. Determine if you meet the grade point average requirements (3.0 overall and 3.3 in your major).
  2. Confer with your department chair regarding specific departmental requirements for honors work.
  3. Confer with possible supervising professors (even if you are sure of a topic, you should consider at least two possible supervising professors).
  4. Decide, with your supervisor, how many hours of course credit (fall and spring semester) your project will require. (Most students register for three hours in the fall, three in the spring.) Each department handles this differently, so check with your supervisor at the start of the semester.

C. Petition your department and the Honors Council:

  1. Write a letter/email to your department chair requesting permission to participate in the department's honors program. Be sure to enclose a detailed, formal proposal that establishes the nature and parameters of your project. A good proposal should state your qualifications for undertaking and completing an honors project (see sample letter).
  2. Ask your supervising professor to write to your department chair endorsing your request for permission to participate in the department's honors program (see sample letter).
  3. The department chair must notify the Honors Council that the project has the support of the department. The department chair must also assign a second reader from within the department to serve on the student's committee (see sample letter).
  4. The student should submit a copy of the proposal as well as the supporting letters from the project supervisor and department chair to the Honors Council no later than 5pm, Tuesday, September 6, 2016.

D. Obtain approval from the Honors Council

Each submission will be evaluated by members of the honors council according to the following criteria:

  • The student explains the nature of the project clearly, in terms understandable to a reader not well-versed in the discipline.
  • The scope of the project is sufficiently narrow to be completed in the time frame allowed.
  • The student articulates clearly what activities will be engaged in to complete the research. (e.g. lab work, field work, library research, data collection, etc.)
  • The student explains well the significance of the proposed work, so that the reader can understand why the work is being proposed.
  • The student contextualizes the proposed work amidst existing similar research, explaining how this proposed project would advance knowledge in his field.
  • The student provides an adequate preliminary bibliography, suggesting the completion of enough advance research to situate the work in the field.
  • The student explains how the proposed project will contribute to his own intellectual development.
  • The student explains, using adequate detail, the preparation for undertaking the project and provides a convincing case that he has the required background and will bring the work to completion.

E.  Following your appointment by the Honors Council:

  1. The Honors Council sends you an official letter of appointment which: outlines your college-wide responsibilities; appoints your supervisory committee; and outlines the committee's responsibilities.
  2. Your supervisory committee will review your appointment at the beginning of the spring semester. If you give sufficient evidence that you will produce a successful project, you will be continued in the program; otherwise, your appointment in the Departmental Honors Program will be revoked.
  3. Your supervising professor will work with you regularly throughout the honors project as your principal mentor. However, you must also submit a draft of your work to your supervisory committee and utilize their feedback when preparing the final version.
  4. You will submit two final bound copies of your paper, accompanied by a detailed letter from your supervising professor certifying departmental approval of your work. Please note: Simply completing a long researched essay or report is not enough to guarantee that your project will be certified as honors work. You must meet high standards of research and presentation to earn departmental honors.
  5. Your supervisory committee will again read your honors paper before approving public presentation of your work. Based on the quality of the paper and of the public presentation, the committee will certify your work as deserving of honors.
  6. Satisfactory completion of honors work leads to the designation "Honors in ________" being printed in the commencement booklet and announced at commencement. Cross-disciplinary projects will earn the designation "Honors in __________ and __________."

F.   Manuscript Requirements:

  1. All projects must be typed in standard manuscript form (double spaced, one inch margins on all four sides). Pages should be numbered.
  2. Each student will submit an electronic copy of his manuscript to the Honors Council. After the project has been approved, the student will submit a final, bound copy to be included in the collection at Bortz Library. (Binding can be done at the Publications Office in the basement of Winston Hall where the student will be instructed in how to affix covers and a binding spine to his report. The Publications Office will provide the materials for a modest charge; each student will provide the necessary labor. A student should expect to spend as much as one hour (depending on his level of expertise) in preparing his copy). The Honors Council will not accept improperly bound papers.