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Honors Program FAQ

Here are some common questions students and faculty ask about the Honors program with answers supplied by the Honors Committee which oversees the program each year. If you need answers to other questions, be sure to check out the Guide to Honors, available on the Honors Program page of the HWS website, and feel free to contact the Honors Secretary or any member of the committee.

Q: How do I choose a topic for an Honors project?
A: Your specific topic is negotiated with your faculty Honors advisor. He/she will often suggest useful ideas and resources for a project.

Q: How do I get an Honors advisor?
A: Talk to faculty members you have had for classes and/or your academic advisor to see who is available and interested in working with you on developing an Honors project topic. Starting these conversations well before your senior year is a good idea. There is no assurance any particular faculty member will be available to act as Honors advisor.

Q: Can my Honors advisor be different than my department/program academic advisor?
A: Yes. It is typical to have taken courses with your Honors advisor before embarking on the Honors project. Having preliminary conversations with a potential advisor about Honors projects is a good idea.

Q: Can I do Honors in an area outside my major?
A: Yes, you still need an Honors advisor who agrees to supervise your Honors project and fill out the Embarking on Honors form. Arrangements will need to be made for appropriate course credits as well. We strongly advise choosing an Honors area and subject in which you have completed coursework. The Honors written exam is built on courses you have taken which are relevant to the Honors project. Honors is a type of capstone experience which requires preparatory study before beginning Honors.

Q: Do the Independent Study (450) and Honors (495) classes count toward my major?
A: Yes, these courses count like any other 400 level course would toward a specific major or minor. Consult your department or program curriculum document for details.

Q: I am doing a project in the arts (media, dance, music, etc). Do I have to submit a written Honors thesis? A: Yes, ALL Honors projects, no matter what area, require a written Honors thesis. Typically a media or arts project thesis may include introductions and reflections on the art work or other projects completed as part of the project.

Q: Does the Honors Thesis have to take a particular form? Are there font, margin, color, minimum page requirements?
A: Every thesis must be bound as a book using 8.5 x 11 inch pages. There is a required format for the title page. For additional requirements, consult the Guide to Honors.

Q: Can I have two Honors advisors?
A: Yes, you can have two, or more, faculty members advising you BUT only ONE will be the designated advisor for signing the official forms, preparing the written exam, arranging the oral exam, etc.

Q: Can I do Honors with a faculty advisor who is not on campus or on leave?
A: We strongly advise NOT to make such arrangements as this makes timely and in-depth advising much more difficult. Having an advisor who cannot meet frequently with you may put your project completion at risk.

Q: How often should I meet with my Honors advisor?
A: Our experience is that meeting at least once per week very much enhances the quality of your project and reduces unproductive or wasted effort.

Q: Does anyone fail to achieve Honors? How can this happen? Does the student still get credit for the Independent Study classes?
A: Yes, this does occur in several ways. First, your advisor may choose to not continue your Independent Study/Honors courses due to lack of satisfactory progress, unanticipated problems, etc. Second, the Oral Examination Committee, which does not include your advisor, determines whether you are awarded Honors or not. This determination is based on three items: the written exam, Honors thesis, and oral exam. See the Description of the Honors program for details. Independent Study class grades and course credit are determined separately from the Honors designation.

Q: Can one faculty advisor supervise several Honors projects at once?
A: Yes, some advisors manage simultaneous projects quite well. Be aware that you will need to be sure there is sufficient time to meet with your advisor.

Q: Can I take the written Honors exam during my second semester of Honors work?
A: Yes, there is an annual schedule of times for the written exam provided by the Honors program. We encourage taking the written exam earlier rather than later. See the most current document available on the Colleges Honors web page for precise schedules.

Q: Can I do both a term abroad program and Honors?
A: Yes, usually you will need to arrange an Independent Study course as part your term abroad program. Again, plan this well in advance with your Honors advisor.

Q: Does a course I took during a term abroad count toward Honors?
A: Yes it can; this must be negotiated with your Honors advisor so that you end up with two independent study classes counting toward your Honors work.

Q: Is a spring (Junior year) then fall (Senior year) semester course sequence possible for completing Honors?
A: Yes, you will need to plan with your advisor when you will complete the written exam following the written guidelines.

Q: Can I do both the Teacher Certification program and Honors?
A: Yes, but this requires careful planning and scheduling your student teaching semester so it does not conflict with your Independent Study classes. See previous Q&A.

Q: Can I do all the requirements for an Honors project in a single semester?
A: No, Honors requires two semesters of independent study level course work to count toward your Honors project.

Q: What if I am not sure I want to continue for a full two semesters of Honors?
A: Very often students take an initial Independent Study course with an advisor. Often this single course is sufficient to satisfy student interest in the subject, some continue on to a full Honors project.

Q: Who makes up the questions for the written exam? How are they graded?
A: Your advisor, in consultation with the Field Examiner (and other faculty members who taught courses listed on your Embarking on Honors form), prepares the written exam questions. Your written exam answers are read by the three members of the Honors Oral Examination Committee and form the basis for questions by the Field Examiner.

Q: Are there various levels of Honors awarded at the end of the full process?
A: No, there is simply Honors or not Honors designation.