Supervise A Senior Honors Project

It is very rewarding to work with undergraduate students as they begin their academic careers full of enthusiasm and excitement for their field. They need guidance, of course, but they typically respond well to direction and are appreciative of the help that a faculty mentor can provide. The Senior Honors Project provides a vehicle to develop a mentorship relationship with a talented and motivated undergraduate student working in your field. Completion of research and creative work will prepare students for graduate school and professional school.

1. What is the Senior Honors Project?

The Senior Honors Project is a two-semester sequence of research or creative work accomplished independently by the student under the direction of a thesis advisor. The sequence normally involves one semester of research or another form of preparation, and one semester of writing or creative work. Creative work should be accompanied by a written essay offering explanation, analysis and/or interpretation of the work.

Projects range from conventional theses, including research on a scientific or social problem, laboratory or other experimental work, archival research, surveys or interviews, to creative work such as fictional or biographical writing, installations and exhibition of art, performance of theater or dance, and projects in architecture and engineering. We are also open to students doing internships, design projects, action research or any other scholarly activity appropriate to the student's field, provided that the student complete a formal proposal for the project, that it is closely supervised by a thesis advisor, and that it is written up into a report that is submitted to the Honors Program.

We are working on descriptions and rubrics for non-conventional theses and would be very happy to receive proposals from faculty and students for alternative forms of Senior Honors Projects.

The project will usually be within the student's major field of study. In some cases, however, it may be in a different field as long as the student can make a case that it is related to their academic studies. In such cases, the thesis advisor may be from a different department, in which case we ask that advisor and chair of the major department sign a Memorandum of Understanding (see link to sample below).

Students will present their completed Senior Honors Project at the annual Spring Symposium or Fall Forum (students graduating in Summer may present "work in progress" at the Spring Symposium). In addition, students will engage in a conversation with their thesis committee, consisting of the thesis advisor and two additional committee members, as approved by the Honors Program. The "conversation" is not a defense as such, but is a means for the committee to collectively and individually give feedback and advice to the student. The conversation should take place following submission of the examination draft to the committee (Week 10) and before the final assessment of the project is due to the Honors Program (Examination Week).

The conversation should not exceed one hour in duration. It is not assessed as part of the Senior Honors Project. It should be seen as an opportunity to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the thesis, and particularly how it could be improved by further work and how it might be prepared for publication or equivalent.

In some cases, departments may have additional requirements. Students in Global Environmental Sciences, for example, are expected to give a public defense of their thesis in addition to presenting at the Symposium or Forum and engaging in a conversation. Students should check with their individual program requirements.

2. Student Learning Outcomes

In HON 496 students will:

  1. Conduct independent scholarly work of professional or near professional quality in their field;
  2. Write up the results of their independent scholarly work into a "thesis" of a standard and format appropriate for publication in their field.

3. Resources for thesis advisors and committee members

Sometimes thesis advisors and students have questions about the scope of the project and the nature of their responsibilities, so we have put together some guidelines to help. Hopefully these will help both to get the most out of a potentially very rewarding relationship.

4. Current project deadlines

The following are deadlines for submission of the Senior Honors Project.

Project Deadlines Fall Spring Summer
Advisor sees entire rough draft October March June
Committee sees examination draft November April July
All graduation materials due to Honors office December May August
Committee's evaluation due to Honors office December May August

Note: the document that you submit to the committee by the due date is the examination copy of your project. If you wish to have committee members give you feedback on your work, you must work well in advance of these deadlines. If you wish to revise your project subsequent to this date, you may do so, but these revisions will not affect the assessment by your committee.


5. End of Semester Grades