Honors Project

Graduating with University Honors is one of the highest honors granted by Bowling Green State University and it is the expectation that every Honors student enrolled in the College will graduate with University Honors. To graduate with University Honors, students must perform well in a range of Honors and non-Honors courses and demonstrate their attainment of the four learning outcomes essential to the Honors College:

        (1) the ability to think critically

        (2 and 3) the ability to convey ideas clearly and persuasively both orally and in writing, and

        (4) the ability to integrate ideas across disciplines 

A significant part of the Honors College curriculum is the Honors Project experience that all students who aspire to graduate with University Honors must convince and execute. The Honors Project is a self-designed, capstone experience intended to showcase the breadth and depth of a student's learning within a fairly narrowly-defined area of interdisciplinary study. All projects are grounded in research and must be reflected in a written paper. This includes creative and applied projects, regardless of major. Final projects must be submitted electronically to the Honors College for publication on ScholarWorks. The written paper portion of the project that is uploaded to ScholarWorks must include 

        o an introduction to the problem and guiding research questions 

        o a review of the literature 

        o a description of the methods used to solve the problem 

        o a description of the results 

        o implications for future research and practice 

        o bibliography

The oral defense component of the Honors Project Course: HNRS 4990 is required for all Honors students who joined the Honors College starting Fall 2015 and after.

Honors Project Requirements

Honors Projects only have three requirements:

1. Original Scholarship

Original 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. 

2. Interdisciplinary Connections

An 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.


3. Justification of the Theory

This part of the project simply explains why students have chosen certain methods or creative endeavors for their projects and is described fully in a literature review.  



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Faculty Advisors

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 EDIS.).

Faculty members at the University with the rank of Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, or Qualified Rank Faculty (Teaching, Clinical, or Research Professor/ Associate Professor/Assistant Professor) can serve as an Honors Project advisor. A non-faculty member or an adjunct faculty member with special expertise in the student’s area may serve as a third advisor but may not be one of the student’s two primary advisors and may not grade the project.

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 assistance when problems arise. Faculty advisors must guide students through the IRB process or certify that the project being produced does not require IRB approval. Finally, they critique one or more early drafts of the project and jointly assign the finished project a grade.

The Faculty Advisors will set the appropriate length given standards for similar works within a given discipline/field of study. Faculty Advisors should keep these ideas in mind these guidelines when determining an appropriate length:

  1. The Honors Project is not intended as a Master’s Thesis.
  2. The Honors Project is not an “ordinary” paper for a course; rather, it is the culmination of the Honors student experience.
  3. Projects typically result in papers of around 25 pages but may vary in length. 

A grade should not be turned in to Registration and Records until the proposal or project and oral defense are 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.


You should meet with your advisor(s) on a weekly or as needed for HNRS 4980 and HNRS 4990. As you move into HNRS 4990, it's a good idea to schedule a joint meeting with all advisors early in the semester. After that, you may meet with them separately or together.

Most students choose at least one advisor from among the faculty they know well. Your Honors advisor is acquainted with faculty in almost every area of the University and will be happy to recommend other possible faculty advisors to students. You should approach faculty 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. 

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 after you have completed HNRS 2010 and HNRS 2020. 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.

Yes, students have completed Honors Projects while finishing their coursework abroad or at other institutions. In this case, your third advisor can be from that institution; however, both your primary and secondary advisor must teach at BGSU. 

Honors 4980: Honors Project Development

Contact the Honors Secretary to schedule an appointment to meet with your Honors advisor. At this meeting, your Honors advisor will determine if you have completed the requirements to graduate with Honors or whenever you are on track to do so before graduating. 

To register for HNRS 4980 you should complete the HNRS 4980 Registration Request Form here on your scheduled registration date or before the first day of classes. You will not be able to register for Honors 4980 yourself.  

The HNRS 4980 form asks you for some basic information, including your contact information, the names of your Honors & faculty advisors and the working title of your project. Once you submit your registration request form, the Honors College will send your Honors advisor, faculty advisors, and the Honors Dean an online approval form. After we receive their approval, you will be registered for the course.

HNRS 4980 has four required outputs for the course:

  • A 1,000-word description of the Honors project. This description will serve as a guide for the direction and extent of the project 
  • An annotated bibliography of the primary sources that will be initially used for the project. 
  • A timeline of completion for the Honors project that lists major and minor milestones that will need to be met to finish the project by the projected end date of HNRS 4990: Honors project.
  • A declaration of support from faculty advisor indicating that project does not require IRB approval to proceed or proof that IRB approval/process has been initiated 

Each of these must be submitted to your faculty advisor for grading and turned in online here to move onto HNRS 4990. 

Submit your proposal, annotated bibliography, and timeline online. Your faculty advisor will submit your grade through grade center.

Honors 4990: Honors Project

To register for HNRS 4990 you should complete the HNRS 4990 Registration Request Form here on your scheduled registration date or before the first day of classes. You will not be able to register for Honors 4990 yourself.  

Honors 4990 Registration Request Form asks you for basic information, including your GPA, the names of your Honors advisor, faculty advisors, and the title of your project. Once you submit your registration request form, the Honors College will send your advisors and the Dean an online approval form. After we receive their approval, you will be registered for the course.

Yes. To do an Honors Project, you must register for HNRS 4980 and 4990 or a pre-approved equivalent (see your Honors advisor). HNRS 4980 and 4990 are official University courses, in which you’ll receive a letter grade. This grade will be determined by your faculty advisor for HNRS 4980 or jointly determined by your faculty advisors for HNRS 4990, and will figure into your overall BGSU GPA.

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.

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. Carefully respond to all of their suggestions for improvement.

Yes, the first is over-ambition. Don’t tackle a topic that whole books have been written on or that whole courses are devoted to. Find a topic that’s important and interesting and focus on a small part of it, employing what amounts to a case study approach. In the conclusion of your project, you can discuss the larger implications of what you’ve discovered.

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 or 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.

Those who complete an Honors project and who meet the other requirements for graduating with University Honors receive special recognition at commencement (both in the Graduation Bulletin and during the graduation ceremony). Their transcripts will feature the notation: “Graduated with University Honors.” They’ll also be given a special gold seal to place on their University diplomas.

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.

All projects must be grounded in research and must be reflected in a written paper and demonstrate in an oral presentation. This includes creative and applied projects, regardless of major. Final written projects must be submitted electronically to the Honors College for publication on ScholarWorks. The written paper portion of the project that is uploaded to ScholarWorks must include:

                        an introduction to the problem and guiding research questions

                        a review of the literature

                        a description of the methods used to solve the problem

                        a description of the results

                        implications for future research and practice


Oral presentations must include the student, their Honors College advisor, and all faculty advisors listed on the project (e.g., primary, secondary, and third (if applicable)

Upload your final project to Scholar Works. Give a copy of your project to each of your advisors as a way of thanking them for their help. Your primary advisor will turn in your grade through the grade center. The final Honors Project should include each of the following components:

  • an introduction to the problem and guiding research questions
  • a review of the literature 
  • a description of the methods used to solve the problem
  • a description of the results
  • implications for future research and practice.
  • bibliography

Yes. The oral defense component of the Honors Project Course: HNRS 4990 is required for all Honors students who joined the Honors College starting Fall 2015 and after. All faculty advisors and your Honors advisor must attend this presentation. 

The oral defense portion of HNRS 4990 is typically completed at the end of the semester and before your Honors Project due date. You are responsible for coordinating the date, time, and location of your oral defense. Work with your Honors advisor and faculty project advisors to identify and schedule a time to complete your oral defense.

Yes. You can discuss with your Honors advisor whether it might be appropriate to delay publication but the project must be published. 5 years is the longest delay possible. Take this into consideration when determining what to include in your final project.

Each spring we recognize and celebrate students graduating with University Honors at the Honors Senior Recognition Ceremony. Family and friends are invited to join as we recognize your accomplishment. At this event, students graduating with University Honors will recieve the Honors medallion and will officially become Honors College alumni. The event features an alumni Keynote speaker and individually recognizes each of the gradutes. Students will share the title of their Honors Project and their future plans. We look forward to celebrating the next group of students graduating with University Honors! 

The Mayeux Awards are given each year to one or more students who have completed outstanding Honors Projects. The money for the prizes comes from an endowment created in honor of Patricia Mayeux, long-time employee and friend of the University. Mayeux Award winners are chosen by a committee of Honors faculty, chaired by the Honors Dean.

To be eligible for a Mayeux Award, a student must submit

  • Submit a recorded presentation of your project by 12:00 PM on April 15, regardless of the semester in which you completed the project.
  • The recording can be of a previous presentation related to this project or specifically created for scholarship consideration.
  • Generally, this will be a separate, shorter presentation from the Honors project Defense.
  • Presentations can contain up to 8 PowerPoint slides and last up to 8 minutes in length. 
  • Submit recording to honors@bgsu.edu
  • Large files may need to be shared using Microsoft OneDrive and a shared link, rather than as an attachment.

Submit a final copy of the completed project to ScholarWorks by 12:00 PM on Monday of finals week during the semester in which you are enrolled.

  • Faculty advisors must submit a final grade in their Faculty Center by 12:00 PM on the Monday of finals week.
  • Earn an “A” for HNRS 4980 and HNRS 4990

Updated: 06/10/2024 01:46PM