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 conceive 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. The Honors Project can be a “traditional” thesis, but it also can take on a number of other, different forms that suit an individual student’s interests, areas of expertise, and dominant learning style(s). Examples include senior recitals in music, juried arts shows, screen-/stage plays, book manuscripts, and service learning projects.

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. Depending on the field, “research” and “creative work” may be understood to be synonymous.


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. 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.



Navigate the tabs below to learn more.

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 EDSE.).

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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 Dean 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.

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.

Yes, students in Nursing and Physical Therapy, for instance, have completed Honors Projects while finishing their coursework at MUO. In this case, one of your advisors can be from MUO; the other must teach at BGSU. If you decide to use an MUO 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 Dean.

Honors 4980: Honors Project Development

Call 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.  

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

HNRS 4980 Form 1 asks you for some basic information, including your contact information, and the name of your advisor. Once you submit your registration request form, the Honors College will send your faculty advisor an online approval form. Once we receive their approval, you will be registered for the course.

HNRS 4980 has three outcomes 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 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 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 thorough understanding of the background literature and ideas for the original scholarship.
  • For more information, the Honors Project workbook can be accessed here.

Submit your Proposal, Annotated Bibliography, and Timeline online through the Honors College CANVAS page (CANVAS/Honors College/Assignments/Honors Project Proposal). Your faculty advisor will receive an additional online form from the Honors College to complete and 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 faculty advisors, and the title of your project. Once you submit your registration request form, the Honors College will send your faculty advisors an online approval form. Once 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 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 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. Your advisors are almost honor-bound to give you an “A” if you’ve carefully responded 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, 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.

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.

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 be sent HNRS 4990: FORM 2 from the Honors College documenting your completion of the project and will turn in your grade through grade center.

Yes. Please see the Honors Project handbook for more information. 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.

Additional Questions

Honors Reception

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. In recent years, $750 has been divided evenly among five winners. Mayeux Award winners are chosen by a committee of Honors faculty, chaired by the Honors Director. To be eligible for a Mayeux Award, a student must submit a Mayeux award application, a final copy of the completed project to ScholarWorks, and a completed FORM 2 by your faculty advisors showing that the student earned a final grade of an “A”, to the Honors College office in advance of Senior Recognition. They must also present their project at a Regional, National, or formal departmental presentation/conference. Their completed project is due the Monday of finals week.

Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship

Be sure to check out the Center for Undergraduate Research for information about grants and scholarships, how to find a mentor, upcoming opportunities to present your research, and other resources for undergraduate research and creative activities.