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Honors Overview

Instructions for Honors Candidates
Honors Proposal and Record of Field Forms - to be completed by Honors candidate
Honors Committee Information Form - to be completed by the Honors Faculty Adviser

Kristy Kenyon
Rosenberg 208
(315) 781-3598

Dot Vogt Harris
Smith 211
(315) 781-3793

The Honors Program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges makes possible the most sustained and sophisticated work available for juniors and seniors in the Colleges’ curriculum. An Honors Project consists of two semesters of high-quality independent coursework. Honors Candidates must complete three components to earn the academic distinction of Honors: a written exam, a project (research paper or its counterpart in the creative arts), and an oral exam which covers the written exam and the project. Honors Candidates work with an Honors Faculty Adviser from the academic field of the Honors Project. An Individual Honors Examination Committee consisting of a Field Examiner and Faculty Examiner from HWS and an Outside Examiner who is a specialist in the field evaluate the Honors Project through the Oral Honors Examination.

Participating in the Honors Program greatly assists students in pursuing their professional ambitions after graduation, but its more fundamental value is to afford students the opportunity to pursue skills and interests at the advanced level and grow in self-knowledge as their project develops.

Deadlines for completing honors fall 2023

NA Honors Project Proposal, Record of Honors Project Field (online forms) 
NA Written Honors Exam Uploaded to Box folder
NA Written Honors Exam, Faculty Adviser and Field Examiner Approvals
Sept. 10, 2023 Written Honors Exam Revised, uploaded to Box folder, Resubmit form for full approval 
Nov. 7, 2023 Honors projects uploaded to Box by 5 p.m.
Nov. 27-Dec. 1, 2023 Oral Honors Examinations


Deadlines for completing honors Spring 2024

Nov. 3, 2023 Honors Project Proposal, Record of Honors Project Field (online forms)
Dec. 15, 2023 Written Honors Exam uploaded to Box
Jan. 26, 2024 Written Honors Exam, Faculty Adviser and Field Examiner Approvals
Feb. 12, 2024 Written Honors Exam Revised, uploaded to Box folder, Resubmit form for full approval 
Apr. 16, 2024 Honors projects uploaded to Box by 5 p.m.
Apr. 29-May 3, 2024 Oral Honors Examinations



  • Students converting 450 to 495 must contact the Registrar's Office with approval of the Faculty Adviser by the end of Week 10 of the first semester.
  • Honors Project Proposal and Record of Honors Project Field (Portal for forms
  • Written Honors Exam must be completed by the end of the 1st Honors semester by the last day of final exams and uploaded to the HWS Box folder. Faculty Advisers, in consultation with the Field Examiner, are free to determine when the written exam should be given. HWS Box folder link will be supplied by the Honors Secretary.
  • 2nd semester Honors is given the designation of 496. Students will be registered for 496 by the Honors Secretary after the Written Honors Examination is submitted to HWS Box and the Faculty Adviser and Field Examiner have submitted approval (online) of the Written Exam. Candidates must have at least a provisional pass by both to be registered for the 2nd semester.

routes and criteria
Honors Candidates typically undertake an Honors Project within a recognized major. Such majors include those in specific Departmental disciplines as well as those of the Interdisciplinary Programs and Individual Majors. Students with a double major may pursue a joint Honors Project that bridges Departments and/or Interdisciplinary Programs. Candidates must have one Honors Faculty Adviser, even if undertaking a joint Honors Project or completing majors in two related disciplines. This Adviser is normally on the faculty of the student’s major Department, Interdisciplinary Program or approved by the Committee on Individual Majors.

honors projects in relation to honors field
Honors work cannot ordinarily be done outside the Candidate’s major. Requests for exceptions to this policy must be directed to the Chair of the Honors Program Committee. Pursuing Honors in a minor is highly unusual and not encouraged. The Honors Project is a focused and manageable activity (scholarly, experimental, or artistic) within the Honors Field. The field is the configuration of courses that the student has taken or will take, within or outside the major, which substantively or methodologically support the Honors Project to some degree. The Honors Candidate will list these courses (minimum of 4) on an online form called the Record of Honors Field. These courses are used by the Adviser and Field Examiner as the basis for the formulation of the Written Honors Examination.

format and arts counterparts
In traditional academic disciplines, scientific and non-scientific, a paper incorporating the results of the student’s research is the usual form. Such papers typically range in length from 30 to 80 pages of text (exclusive of the bibliography, prefatory material, charts, endnotes, appendices, and so on). Some departments try to limit Honors papers to the length of the average article in their professional journals. The Honors paper ordinarily should not exceed a total of approximately 100 pages of double-spaced typescript. Excessively long papers often reflect more zeal than discrimination, and indicate an inability to narrow the field of inquiry rather than thoroughness on the part of the Candidate.

Required documents
The final format of an Honors Project should conform to a standard format of the Candidate’s discipline. The Honors paper must be double-spaced with a 1 1⁄2-inch margin on the left side of the paper (to allow for binding); 1-inch margins on the top, bottom and right side of the paper are required, as are page numbers at center top or bottom.

Honors Candidates are expected to be knowledgeable of the requirements and rights associated with the Honors Program.

facualty adviser responsibilities
The Honors Faculty Adviser is in close personal contact with the Honors Candidate and coursework at all stages. Regularly scheduled weekly conferences are recommended. The Honors Faculty Adviser helps the student to narrow or broaden the Honors Project; suggests bibliography and methods with which the student cannot be expected to be familiar; accustoms the student to making critical judgments and to discussing the work at hand orally and in writing, especially if it lies in essentially non-verbal areas. Ideally the Honors Faculty Adviser and the Honors Candidate actively attempt to cultivate a ‘partnership’ and realize they have a common concern in doing a job that will stand up to the scrutiny of an Outside Examiner. In the past, the shared work has sometimes led to collaboration on articles published in scholarly journals.

examination committee
The Individual Honors Examination Committee members include a Field Examiner and a Faculty Examiner from the Colleges and an Outside Examiner. Each member of this committee evaluates the Candidate's Honors Project and Written Honors Examination, participates in the Oral Honors Examination and votes in the evaluation of the Honors Project.

written honors examination
The Written Honors Examination is typically weighted 25% in evaluating the Honors work overall. It is designed and administered by the Honors Faculty Adviser with the assistance of the Field Examiner and other faculty members as appropriate. It is NOT comprehensive; it is determined by the courses which the Candidate, in careful discussion with the Honors Faculty Adviser, has specified as having direct or indirect relevance to the Honors Project. These courses are listed on the Record of Honors Field and the record itself is in the file with Written Honors Examination so that the Candidate's examiners know what relevant formal instruction the Candidate has had. The Written Honors Exam must be completed by the end of final exams in the first semester of Honors.

oral honors examination and evaluation of candidates
The Oral Honors Examination covers the Written Honors Examination and the Honors Project. It is held at a specified time 1-2 weeks after the submission of the completed Honors Project and before the semester’s final exam period. Prior to the Oral Honors Examination, each examiner has had access to the Candidate's Honors Project (or been present at an Honors art exhibit or performance) and has read the Candidate's Written Honors Examination (questions and answers).

procedures and requirements
See the requirements for Honors candidates and their advisers.

honors support
Learn about the ways in which the Honors program is supported on campus. 
Meet and get in touch with the Honors Committe. 
Past Honors Projects