Graduating with Honors
Graduation with University Honors is one of the highest honors granted by Bowling Green State University. To graduate with University Honors, students must demonstrate not only their ability to perform well in a range of both Honors and non-Honors courses but also their attainment of the five learning outcomes essential to the University Honors College: the ability to draw interdisciplinary connections, to convey ideas clearly and forcefully both orally and in writing, to think independently, to think critically and analytically, and to work collaboratively with others.
When you graduate with University Honors, your name and title of your project appears in the graduation program book and you receive the privilege of wearing additional academic regalia, an Honors medallion, provided to you by the University Honors College.
- Earn a minimum cumulative University G.P.A. of 3.5 or higher and a minimum 3.4 or higher G.P.A. in all Honors courses presented for graduation with Honors requirement.
- Enroll in and successfully complete at least 23 graded credit hours of Honors coursework; these 23 hours will include HNRS 2010: Introduction to Critical Thinking, HNRS 2020: Critical Thinking about Great Ideas, HNRS 4980: Honors Project Development, and HNRS 4990: Honors Project. Additionally, students must:
- Earn a grade of “A” or “B” in each course.
- Count as part of their 23 graded hours no more than 10 hours from the same general education category.
- Count as part of their 23 graded hours no more than 10 hours from the Colleges of Education, Business, or Musical Arts.
- Count as part of their 23 graded hours no more than 6 hours of Honors Independent Study and/or Honors Tutorial.
- Complete an Honors Project and earn a grade of “A” or “B” in both HNRS 4980: Honors Project Development and HNRS 4990: Honors Project.
Honors Project Requirements
Honors Projects only have three requirements:
- Original scholarshipOriginal scholarship means the student needs to produce something that is new for their field. Given the wide range of majors and scholarly fields across the campus, it is hard to define this specifically. It is not the summary and collation of existing knowledge in novel ways, as might be appropriate for a paper assigned in a class. Original scholarship requires that the student develop, synthesize, and/or create ideas in new and different ways and allows the students to apply what they have learned across a number of different courses to a specific idea. Original scholarship should involve inquiry-based learning and, depending on the field, may involve experimental or library research. Depending on the field, “research” and “creative work” may be understood to be synonymous.
- Interdisciplinary connectionsAn Honors Project may focus on any topic of the student’s choosing. Each project must, however, be interdisciplinary; that is, it must make use of the bodies of knowledge and methodologies of two different fields (One of these is typically the student’s major field, though it need not be.). Projects have been produced by students in almost every department of the University, including elementary education, secondary education, special education, art education, music education, music performance, music history, music composition, architecture, aviation studies, English, Spanish, philosophy, art history, popular culture, American Culture studies, journalism, telecommunications, psychology, sociology, history, biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, geology, computer science, environmental science, ethnic studies, women’s studies, physical therapy, kinesiology, communication disorders, economics, finance, accounting, and marketing.
- Justification of the theory
This part of the project simply explains why students have chosen certain methods or creative endeavors for their projects. In some fields (i.e., philosophy, chemistry, literature), this is typically inherent in the project itself and doesn’t need to be explicitly addressed. In other fields (i.e., music and arts), this part of the project provides an explanation of why certain materials, musical styles, and presentations are used. For example, it provides an explanation of why an artist chose to present their work in ceramics as opposed to water colors. In addition, it helps explain the purpose and meaning behind the materials and images selected for presentation.
Students completing HNRS 4980 require one advisor. Students working on HNRS 4990 must work with at least two advisors from different departments (Both advisors may, however, be from the same college. A student’s advisors may come from Music History and Music Performance, for example, or Management and Accounting, or EDFI and EDSE.).
Who can serve as a Faculty Advisor?
Any faculty member at the University, with the rank of Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Lecturer, Instructor, Part-time Instructor, or Adjunct Instructor may serve as an Advisor. However, at least one advisor must be a Professor, Associate Professor, or Assistant Professor. Graduate students may not serve as Faculty Advisors--unless they’re employed by the University as instructors or lecturers. Faculty at affiliated institutions (such as the Medical College of Ohio) who are participating in BGSU degree programs (such as Nursing and Physical Therapy) may serve as advisors. However, in these cases, the other advisor must be a BGSU faculty member. A non-faculty member with special expertise in the student’s area may serve as an extra (or third) advisor but may not participate in the process of grading the project.
What are the responsibilities of the Faculty Advisors?
The Faculty Advisors’ primary responsibility is to help the student lay out the basic conception of the project, clarify the student’s objectives, and discover an appropriate research or creative strategy for achieving these. Advisors typically provide reading lists for students or augment lists prepared by the students themselves, as well as trouble-shooting assistance when problems arise. Finally, they critique one or more early drafts of the project and jointly assign the finished project a grade.
A grade should not be turned in to Registration and Records until the proposal or project is complete.
The single greatest problem that our students have is maintaining progress and contact with their advisors. The students are receiving 1 hour of course credit for development of their proposal and 2 hours of course credit for their project and most of this time is done on the students own schedule. It is reasonable for you to have set meetings with the student on a weekly or as needed basis in order to maintain their progress toward completion.
What should the length of the Honors Project be?
You as the advisor will set the appropriate length given your field or discipline. When determining the appropriate size of the Honors Project please remember these two guidelines. First, this is not intended as a Masters Thesis. Second, this is not an ordinary paper for a course. This is the culmination of the Honors student experience. Honors Projects typically result in papers of around 25 pages in length, but poetry, fiction, art (including sketches, paintings, and ceramics), computer programs, manuals, illustrated children’s books, curriculum guides, films, and other creative expressions are quite acceptable. Students in music may produce arrangements or original compositions or give lecture recitals. Honors students are encouraged to pursue projects which allow them to move in creative directions.
How often should I meet with my Faculty Advisor(s)?
You should meet with your advisor(s) on a weekly or as needed basis for HNRS 4980 and HNRS 4990. It’s a good idea to schedule a joint meeting with one or both advisors early in the semester. After that, you may meet with them separately or together.
How do I find Faculty Advisors?
Most students choose at least one advisor from among the faculty they’ve taken courses from, know well, and have performed well for. The Honors Director is acquainted with faculty in almost every area of the University and will be happy to recommend other possible advisors to students. You should approach advisor candidates during the semester preceding the one in which the project is to be done (faculty like to learn of and agree to extra commitments in advance). Most BGSU faculty readily agree to advise Honors Projects. If a promising advisor seems reluctant, assure her/him that the Honors Projects are independent projects, that you’ll be assuming primary responsibility for the project, and that you’ll need only preliminary guidance and minimal help thereafter.
When do students do their Honors Projects?
Most students do their projects in either the fall and spring term of their senior years, but it is possible to do your Honors Project at any point during your time at BGSU. In addition, Honors 4980 is required before Honors 4990, but there is no need to do both courses in consecutive semesters. Honors Projects can also be done during the summer although it can sometimes be difficult to find appropriate faculty advisors during the summer. Though students must formally register for the Honors Project in a particular semester, many students begin work on their projects before this semester begins.
Can I do an Honors Project while at an affiliated institution, such as the Medical College of Ohio?
Yes, students in Nursing and Physical Therapy, for instance, have completed Honors Projects while finishing their coursework at MCO. In this case, one of your advisors can be from MCO; the other must teach at BGSU. If you decide to use an MCO advisor (who may well be unfamiliar with the requirements for the Honors Project and Graduation with University Honors), you should encourage this individual to contact the Honors Director.
Honors 4980: Honors Project Development
To register for HNRS 4980 you should do so on your scheduled registration date or before the first day of classes through the Honors College Office. You will not be able to register for Honors 4980 yourself. This should, and can be done before you turn in HNRS 4980 Form 1.
HNRS 4980 Form 1 needs to be turned into the Honors College office by the end of the first week of classes of the semester in which you want to complete HNRS 4980. HNRS 4980 Form 1 asks you for some basic information, including your GPA, and the name and signature of your advisor.
- A 1,000-word description of the Honors project. This description will serve as a guide for the direction and extent of the project and is the necessary Honors proposal that allows you to sign up for HNRS 4990. At the end of the HNRS 4980 course, you are required to turn this in to both your advisor and the Honors College office.
- An annotated bibliography of the primary sources that will be initially used for the project. At the end of the HNRS 4980 course, you are required to turn this in to both your advisor and the Honors College office.
- A thorough understanding of the background literature and ideas for the original scholarship.
What do I do once my proposal is completed for HNRS 4980?
HNRS 4980 Form 2 can be found on MyBGSU under the Honors Community, or a hard copy can be picked up in the Honors College office. This form has a signature line for your advisor, the Honors Director and a space for the grade. Once your advisor has graded your proposal they should fill in the grade and sign Form 2. Turn in the signed Form 2 and a copy of your proposal to the Honors College office by the first day of finals week. The official University grade sheet will be sent to your advisor and it gets turned in to Registration and Records.
Honors 4990: Honors Project
Are Honors Projects graded?
Yes. To do an Honors Project, you must register for HNRS 4980 and 4990 or the equivalent (such as ENG 4980H or HIST 4800H). HNRS 4980 and 4990 are official University courses, in which you’ll receive a letter grade. This grade will be determined by your advisor for HNRS 4980 or jointly determined by your advisors for HNRS 4990, and will figure into your overall BGSU GPA.
What grades are typically earned on Honors Projects?
Many students earn an A. Most earn either an A or B as a grade. However, grades are certainly not automatic. Most faculty advisors have high performance standards and expect upper-level Honors students to be able to meet these.
What’s the best way to ensure that I earn an “A” on my project?
Work with your advisors to establish clear goals at the start. Produce a high-quality description of the project. Most importantly, get a draft of your project to your advisors at least one month before the final deadline so that not only can they give you feedback, but you can respond to it. Your advisors are almost honor-bound to give you an “A” if you’ve carefully responded to all of their suggestions for improvement.
The second problem many students face is procrastination. Many Honors students have learned to adjust their academic lives to meet deadlines set by faculty. Some of these students find it difficult to handle the freedom allowed by an independent study arrangement. To avoid procrastination:
- Set intermediate deadlines for yourself throughout the term (for finishing your research, outlining your argument, producing a first draft, producing a final draft) and be sure to meet them. These deadlines will correspond to those in more traditional courses.
- Establish set times during each week for working on your projects (every Tuesday afternoon, Thursday evening, Saturday morning, for example). If you regularly work a few hours each week on your project, you should be able to produce a high-quality project on time. To contrast, those who postpone work on their projects, figuring they can complete them late in the term, usually find that they were wrong. There’s nothing more obvious or more disappointing to faculty advisors than a “rush job.” Rush jobs are also of very little value to the students who produce them. Good Honors Projects cannot be produced quickly; they demand too much care, thought, and attention.
Graduation with University Honors is also a valuable resume item especially for those who plan to attend graduate or professional school and who need to demonstrate that they have the capacity to do research.
Finally, completing an Honors Project is in itself a valuable experience, allowing the student to develop an original idea, work on it independently, develop self-confidence as a researcher and writer, practice his/her writing and speaking skills, and collaborate with two or more faculty members in the process of intellectual discovery and creation.
What do I do once my project is completed for HNRS 4990?
HNRS 4990 Form 2 can be found on MyBGSU under the Honors Community or a hard copy can be picked up in the Honors College office. This form has signature lines for both of your advisors, the Honors Director and a space for the grade. Once your advisors have agreed on a grade for your project, they should grade and sign HNRS 4990 Form 2. Make at least three copies of your completed project. Turn in the signed HNRS 4990 Form 2 and a copy of your project (in a 9x13 envelope, not stapled) to the Honors College office by the first day of finals week. Give a copy of your project to each of your advisors as a way of thanking them for their help. The official University grade sheet will be sent to your primary advisor who will turn it into Registration and Records.
Am I done once my project is turned in?
Not quite. Each year, in the spring, during the last week of classes, the Honors College organizes a reception for all the students who've completed Honors Projects during the previous summer, fall, and spring. At this reception, each student who has completed a project is asked to stand before the audience and describe her/his Honors Project. In 2013, this reception became a part of the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Each student is asked to give the title of their project, to list their advisors, to discuss the basic conception and methodology of their project, to describe any interesting problems that arose during the project and how these problems were solved, and to discuss the rewards of having done the project. All faculty advisors are invited, as well as the President of the University, the Provost, the Vice Provosts, the Deans, and all Honors students. Refreshments are served and a highlight is the presentation of the Mayeux Awards.