Departmental Guidelines for Senior Honors Program Capstone Projects

Unless otherwise stated, the departments endorse the Honors Program Handbook’s Guidelines for Honors Capstone Courses:

Capstone courses are opportunities for students to display their mastery of a particular set of standards established for their majors. An honors capstone course should aim, in addition, for the creation of original work of graduate-level quality in the particular discipline. Evidence that such aims have been achieved includes:

  • an intellectual/creative project of some significance,
  • a relatively sophisticated understanding of the materials involved and the relevant research and artistic methodologies, and
  • a high level of clarity and organization, as well as felicity of presentation, in the finished work.

Completed projects should be the source of talks/demonstrations/exhibits to a public audience, in such forums as those sponsored by the Committee on Undergraduate Research, the Social Science Research Council, the Lake Champlain Research Consortium, the Vermont Genetics Network, or other disciplinary conferences.

Each Department has specified further guidelines for their Honors Program majors.  The sets of guidelines below were submitted by the chairpersons.

Guidelines by Department

Maura D’Amore, Director

  • Generally, the student should produce a longer paper than for the regular capstone, more thoroughly researched and sourced, that situates the project in the context of the standard scholarship on the topic. Alternatives to this requirement, if they are comparably demanding, are open to consideration. The nature of the paper must be approved by the AM coordinator. In preparation for the finished project, the student will produce a topic essay, a bibliographic essay/annotated bibliography, and a discussion of the thesis/argument during the course of the semester. By reading and consulting about these preliminary works, the faculty supervisor will monitor the student’s progress.
  • A presentation of the paper in an end-of-the-semester forum such as EN 410 or HI 410 or one of the Student Research Day panels.
  • An optional oral exam (depending on the judgment of the supervisor) involving the student, the supervisor, and one other faculty member so that the student can provide a knowledgeable defense of his/her paper. This can be especially useful for students wishing to go on to graduate school.

Nathaniel Lew, Chair

Art

All Senior Art majors create a series of multiple Art works for a Gallery exhibition that they plan, execute, publicize, hang, and later remove. In addition to their exhibition, Senior Art majors graduating with Honors write a thesis paper describing, critically analyzing and contextualizing their work.

Music

Our seniors work out their projects in the senior seminar. Most of the students, working with their professor in the seminar and with their private music instructor, design and present a performance or composition recital.

All seniors are required to write informative and brief program notes for their presentations.

In the case of Honors Program students, we offer one of two options:

Option one is to write a research-based paper on a topic that is not related to their performance, but one that paves the way for future, graduate study in music. In the recent past, Ben Miller wrote a 90+ page paper on piping traditions in Scotland and the New World. He also presented a full-length recital.

Option two is to write a series of shorter research-based papers on all or most of the music that the student will present in a recital. The work includes stylistic and theoretical analysis of the music. Performance practice problems are addressed with historical, primary documents. Such in-depth, analytical writing is not appropriate for program notes; it reflects the student’s knowledge of historical style and practice as a scholar of performance traditions.

Theatre

All Senior Theatre majors design and execute a substantial project in one of the applied aspects of Theatre, in close connection with the Faculty. These areas might include but are not limited to:

  • Acting in a major role in a Mainstage or student-directed production
  • Designing and executing an aspect (scenery, lights, props, costumes, sound) of a Mainstage or full-scale student-directed production
  • Directing a full-scale production
  • Writing an original play
  • Designing and teaching an afterschool program, or teaching/directing primary or high school students in workshops and/or a production

This is in addition to weekly coursework, common readings, regular journal entries, and a 30 minute in-class presentation teaching their classmates on an area of the student’s expertise.

Students hoping to complete an Honors Program capstone in Theatre would need to supplement their project in one of the following ways:

  • Writing an original play and performing an additional function such as directing or acting in it
  • Designing more than one aspect (scenery, lights, props, costumes, sound) of a Mainstage or full-scale student-directed production
  • Presenting their research, process and/or results at the annual Academic Symposium
  • Completing another enhancement agreed upon by the instructor and student

In addition, Honors Program students will teach a 60 minute in-class lesson.

Alayne Schroll, Director

  • Successful completion of CH 410, Senior Seminar. This includes:
    • Submission of a written thesis.
    • Poster an oral presentation of work to peers and chemistry faculty.
  • An Honors Program student taking the department’s senior seminar should, at the beginning of the course sequence in the fall, inform the seminar’s instructor of his/her intent to have their thesis accepted as an Honors Program Capstone Project. This will allow, i) a proper mentoring relation to be established, and ii) agreement on the expectations for the project.
  • Since a written thesis and an oral presentation are already part of the general requirements for this course, it is expected that the Honor’s student will present their topic in much greater depth and breadth than the regular students (written work approximately 1.5 times longer).
  • At the end of the second semester, both the written work and feedback from faculty will be used by the course instructor to determine whether the project merits Honors Program status.

Mark Lubkowitz, Chair

Students wishing to complete an Honors Program Capstone Project in the Biology major must choose one of the following two options:
Successful completion of BI 410, Senior Seminar. This includes:

  • Submission of written papers
  • Oral presentation of work to peers and faculty

Option 1: An Honors Program student taking the department’s senior seminar should, at the beginning of the course sequence in the fall, inform the seminar’s instructor of his/her intent to have their paper accepted as an Honors Program Capstone Project. This will allow, i) a proper mentoring relation to be established, and ii) agreement on the expectations for the project.

Since written papers and an oral presentations are already part of the general requirements for this course, it is expected that the Honor’s student will present their topic in much greater depth and breadth than the non-honors students. At the end of the semester, both the written work and feedback from faculty will be used by the course instructor to determine whether the project merits Honors Program status.

Option 2: Complete at least one full course (4 credits) of BI 420, Senior (Honors Program) Research. Projects typically include independent lab or field research projects that involve the student gathering original data, analyzing results, and presenting the outcomes in a written paper in scientific journal format. Honors Program students completing projects are also expected to orally present their results to their peers and the biology faculty. Additional presentations, in oral or poster format, at appropriate professional conferences may also be expected by the faculty advisor. Before a student will be permitted to enroll in BI 420, he/she must first find a faculty advisor/mentor for the project and come to an agreement with that faculty advisor/mentor on the expectations for the project.

Karen Popovich, Chair

  • The Department endorses the general guidelines in the Honors Program Handbook.
  • Typically, the Honors Program capstone project will be done in the context of the senior seminar (AC 450 Capstone Seminar in Accounting or BU 461 Business Strategy). The student will work on a standalone project that meets the guidelines of an Honors Program Project and is equivalent to the work of a first year graduate student. The project is to be focused on an issue and/or problem and/or situation beyond the normal topics covered in the course, and will require extensive primary and/or secondary research at an advanced level. The project could take the form of a traditional research paper or a comprehensive case study and typically will consist of a 20-30 page final version. Alternatives that are comparably demanding are open to consideration.
  • At the beginning of the semester, an Honors Program student majoring in Accounting and/or Business should discuss the expectations for the capstone project with the professor, and inform the Honors program of his/her plans. The department chair will signify his or her approval of the project by signing a letter addressed to the Honors Committee of the Faculty Assembly.
  • During the semester, the professor supervising the project will be expected to hold mentoring sessions with the student, including a review of the first draft, offering comments for revision and assisting with the public presentation venue. These sessions will generally be approximately 30 minutes a week every 2-3 weeks.
  • At the end of the semester, the student will submit his/her work to a department sub-committee to determine whether it merits Honors Program status. (The committee can require revisions and allow a second submission.) The sub-committee will consist of a supervising faculty member and the department chairperson.
  • The student is also required to make some type of public presentation of their work in a formal event, such as the Dean’s reception, the Undergraduate Research Symposium, or the SSRC, as part of another class where the student will be expected to lead the session, or at a meeting of a local business or nonprofit group or association, professional or academic.

David Heroux, Chair

Successful completion of CH 410, Senior Seminar. This includes:

  • Submission of a written thesis
  • Oral presentation of work to peers and physics faculty

An Honors Program student taking the department’s senior seminar should, at the beginning of the course sequence in the fall, inform the seminar’s instructor of his/her intent to have their thesis accepted as an Honors Program Capstone Project. This will allow, i) a proper mentoring relation to be established, and ii) agreement on the expectations for the project.

Since a written thesis and an oral presentation are already part of the general requirements for this course, it is expected that the Honor’s student will present their topic in much greater depth and breadth than the regular students.

At the end of the second semester, both the written work and feedback from faculty will be used by the course instructor to determine whether the project merits Honors Program status.

Peter Vantine, Chair

  • Honors Program students in Classics can write a short essay which goes through several drafts. We encourage Honors Program students in Classics to present this as a talk at the Vermont Academy of the Arts and Sciences or at the College’s Research Symposium Day and to submit it for publication or for competitions (e.g. the Phyllis B. Katz Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research awarded by the Classical Association of New England). If a student is planning to apply to graduate programs in Classics, this kind of project can help him/her prepare a writing sample.
  • Honors Program students in Classics can take on a reading project which involves substantially more reading of the ancient languages than the amount expected of non-Honors students in the seminar. In the Classics capstone seminar, all students read at least one hundred pages of Latin and Greek texts in the original on their own. The amount of reading that an Honors Program student would do beyond that would depend upon the student’s level of preparation and the difficulty of the author. Having done this, they must demonstrate proficiency with this body of material by undergoing a sight-examination. One part of the sight examination will be oral and that will be administered by the faculty in the Classics Department.
  • Honors Program students in Classics can produce a polished translation of a classical text. In some cases an Honors Program student might translate a work which has not been translated. We encourage Honors Program students in Classics who avail themselves of this option to submit their work for publication. If a student were to do a creative imitation of ancient poetry, for example, he or she might submit it to The New England Classical Journal, published by the Classical Association of New England, for this journal has a section devoted to creative imitations and translations of ancient poetry.

John Trono, Chair

CS and IS seniors are required to take CS407-Software Engineering during the fall of their senior year. Students are encouraged to select their Senior Honors Program Project topic during the CS407 course and begin the work with the goal of presenting a paper, poster or project during the undergraduate research symposium in April of the following semester. Students may also present an alternate plan to do research related to another core area of computing (e.g., algorithms, artificial intelligence, etc.) by making a proposal to the department chair before October 31 of the fall term. The proposal must be in writing and have the support of one of the tenure-track faculty members in CS/IS.

Process for Senior Honors Program Projects:

  • Submit a written proposal outlining a research paper or proof of concept project (typically involving software creation) by October 31. The submission must have the support of a mentoring professor who is tenured or tenure-track in CS or IS.
  • The proposal will be reviewed by the sponsoring professor and Dept. Chair with changes presented to the student within one month of receipt. The final proposal will involve a substantial research paper or project to be supervised (with final approval of the finished product) by the sponsoring professor.
  • The final work will be presented during the spring semester at a public campus venue (preferably the undergraduate research symposium, but other venues such as the Dean’s Reception or a regional conference would also suffice).

Michael Larsen, Chair

All Honors students will (with guidance from the supervisor): identify a problem that requires the use of material and skills beyond the student’s standard data science curriculum; research the chosen topic at an advanced level; organize and write up the results of that research in an analytically sophisticated manner. The topic of this research could be in an area of mathematical sciences (mathematics, statistics, or computer science) or other fields of human knowledge (natural sciences, social sciences, or humanities) that requires the use of data analytics and would be new to the student, who would then be expected to work through the relevant examples, theory, methodology, simulation, etc., and synthesize results, which may or may not be original. Results will be presented in written form and also presented in a public forum. At the end of the semester, both the written work and feedback from faculty will be used by the supervisor to determine whether the project merits Honors Program status.

All students completing an Honors capstone project will sign up for MA 495 – Honors Thesis in Mathematics or ST 495 – Honors Thesis in Statistics, either as a Half Course or a Full Course, depending on the option chosen. This course does not count toward the major requirements; it is taken to fulfill requirements of the Honors Program.

Three options are available for Honors Capstone Projects in Data Science:

Option 1: Senior Seminar Enhancement:

Complete an Honors Program Capstone as an add-on to a senior seminar course.

  • An Honors Program student taking MA 410 Senior Seminar in Mathematics (1/2 course) or ST 410 Senior Seminar in Statistics should, prior to enrolling for the course in the spring, inform the Seminar instructor of his/her intent to have their paper accepted as an Honors Program Capstone Project. This will allow (i) a proper mentoring relation to be established and (ii) agreement on the expectations for the project.
  • The student should also enroll in MA 495- Honors Thesis in Mathematics (1/2 course) or ST 495- Honors Thesis in Statistics (1/2 course). The thesis supervisor may be different from the Seminar instructor; in this case, the Seminar instructor and thesis supervisor will coordinate expectations for the Capstone Project.
  • Since written papers and an oral presentations are already part of the general requirements for this course, it is expected that Honors students will research and present their topic in significantly greater depth and breadth than the non-honors students.

Option 2: Honors Thesis Independent Study:

Complete a half (2 credit) or full course (4 credits) of MA 495 – Honors Thesis in Mathematics, or Complete a half (2 credit) or full course (4 credits) ST 495 – Honors Thesis in Statistics

  • Data Science Honors Program students must have permission of a supervisor and submit their independent study research proposal to Department Chair in Mathematics and Statistics or Department Chair in Computer Science before preregistration for the semester in which the proposed research is to take place.
  • Requirements and learning outcomes for the Thesis will depend upon the project, as formulated by the student and professor, but will be consistent with guidelines stated above.
  • In terms of work expectations, for the half-course option, during roughly the first 2/3 of the semester students are expected to spend approximately 4 hours/week of reading/formulating problems/making substantial progress on the proposed problems, and 1 hour/week meeting with the supervisor; in the last 1/3 of the semester students will organize their knowledge and carefully write up their results. For the full-course option, the time commitment is expected to be 10 hours per week.

Option 3: Upper Level Course Enhancement:

Complete an Honors Program Capstone within the context of a 300-level or 400-level MA, ST, or CS full course.

  • Data Science Honors Program students may formulate a proposal to include an Honors Capstone Project as part a 300-level or 400-level MA, ST, or CS full course with the permission of the instructor of that course and then submit their proposal to Department Chair in Mathematics and Statistics or Department Chair in Computer Science before preregistration for the semester in which the proposed project is to take place. This component will be completed in addition to ordinary course requirements; it is taken to fulfill requirements of the Honors Program.
  • The student should also enroll in MA 495- Honors Thesis in Mathematics (1/2 course) or ST 495- Honors Thesis in Statistics.
  • Requirements and learning outcomes for the Honors Program component, to be developed by the student and supervisor, will depend upon the project, but will be consistent with the guidelines stated above.

For all of the options:

  • Part of the writing-up process could include learning to use a mathematical type-setting software such as LaTeX or Scientific Word. The plans for writing-up the project will be formulated by the student and professor.
  • Possible venues for student presentation of the results include the year-end campus student symposium, the Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, the New England Statistics Symposium, the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences Student Symposium, another regional or national undergraduate mathematics, statistics, or computer science forum, or at a departmental mathematics, statistics, or computer science colloquium.
  • Also note: Students must have permission of a supervisor and submit their research proposal to Department Chair in Mathematics and Statistics or Department Chair in Computer Science before preregistration for the semester in which the proposed research is to take place. MA/ST 495 does not count toward the major (but the course being enhanced may count toward the major); it is taken to fulfill requirements of the Honors Program.

Reza Ramazani, Chair for Economics Dept.

Option I:

Honors Program students will be assigned to read three contemporary books in Economics, ones not assigned other students, and prepare formal reviews of these texts. Review essays may form a component of discussion with all students in the seminar.

Option II:

In general, the capstone project for Honors Program students in Economics will be completed in the context of the senior seminar in Economics. The Honors Program student should produce an extended paper than the ones expected of other senior seminar students. This paper might include a more comprehensive literature review and extensions of research methodologies. The goal will be to produce a paper worthy of being identified as an ‘honors thesis.’ The Senior thesis supervisor will meet with the Honors Program student on a regular basis to discuss and encourage the additional components of the research. The Honors Program student will be expected to present their thesis during the College’s Research Symposium day. They will also be encouraged to present their research at the Vermont Academy of the Arts and Sciences or another appropriate internal or external student-oriented event.

Valerie Bang-Jensen, Chair

All Education majors have a second major. Typically, Honors students in their senior year complete an Honors Project in this other major. The Honors Project would need to take place in the alternative semester to student teaching. Education majors wishing to complete an Honors Project in Education need to meet with their Education advisor and the Department Chair to discuss if and how this would be possible.

Barbara O’Donovan and Lloyd Simons, Co-Directors

In accordance with the Guidelines for Honors Program Capstone Courses as elucidated in the Honors Program Handbook, a student’s “capstone project” should be in his or her field of expertise, in this case, the specific Engineering discipline. Therefore, the capstone project will usually be undertaken during the last year of study at UVM or Clarkson.

For students in the SMC-UVM Program, the Capstone Honors Program Project will normally be integrated into the “Senior Design Experience” courses that all UVM engineers are required to take in their last year of study. Students will be expected to write a comprehensive paper giving the details of the project and written for a non-expert audience. The paper should include background on the problem to be solved or element to be designed and should describe the development process, obstacles encountered, and the final result. (The length will depend upon the nature of the project, but about 20 pages would generally be appropriate.) The results of the project should also be presented in some public forum, for instance at a poster session at the SMC Student Symposium Day.

Students wishing to complete the requirements of the Honors Program in this way should proceed as follows:

  • Submit a formal proposal to their SMC Engineering Advisor by October 15 of their final year outlining the plan for their design experience, and to what extent it goes beyond what is normally expected for the successful completion of the course. The Advisor will inform the student by November 1 whether the plan has been approved.
  • By March 15, submit to their SMC Advisor a draft or substantial outline of the paper.
  • By April 15 submit the final paper to their SMC Advisor.

Students enrolled in a comparable design experience course at Clarkson may follow this procedure as well.

Alternate Plan

Students whose engineering program does not include a design project course that can be adapted to the plan described above, or who would prefer to complete an alternate project to fulfill the capstone requirement should discuss their plan for completing the Honors Program Project with their SMC Advisors in a timely fashion, no later than the spring of Junior year.

  • By September 1 of the last year of their program (and after discussion with and approval of their SMC advisor) students should submit to the SMC Coordinators of the Engineering Programs (currently Professors Zsu Kadas and Lloyd Simons), an alternative proposal for completing the requirements of the Honors Program. In keeping with the spirit of the Honors Program Guidelines, any successful proposal should detail: how the project will attain the expected superlative level of intellectual content; a timeline for the project and how the results of the project will be reviewed; and how the results of the project will be presented in a public forum.
  • By March 15, submit to the SMC Advisor a draft, substantial outline, or progress report on the project.
  • By April 15, submit the final project.

Maura D’Amore, Chair for English Dept.

  • The department endorses the general guidelines in the Honors Program Handbook.
  • Typically, the capstone project will be done in the context of the senior seminar with the goal of composing a thesis or a creative alternative worthy of being declared an “Honors Program Project.”
  • An Honors Program student taking the department’s senior seminar should, at the beginning of the seminar, inform the seminar’s director of his/her intent to have his/her senior thesis or creative alternative accepted as an Honors Program Capstone Project. This will allow a proper mentoring relation to be established.
  • At the end of the semester, the completed project will be submitted to the instructor, who will determine whether it merits Honors Program status.
  • If the project is approved and recommended by the mentoring instructor, the student will submit a summary abstract of the completed project (max. 2 pages in digital format) to the department chair, who will forward it with approval to the Honors Committee for inclusion in a Capstone Projects archive.
  • The student will present an abbreviated presentation on her/his Honors Program Capstone Project on the College’s Research Symposium day.

Richard Kujawa, Director

Please see Program Director, Prof. Richard Kujawa, for more information.

Patricia Delaney, Director

  • The Gender Studies program endorses all of the general guidelines in the Honors Program Handbook.
  • Under normal circumstances, the Gender Studies honors capstone project will be undertaken within the semester-long Gender Studies Capstone Seminar, GS410 (usually offered in the spring semester). No later than at the last week of the preceding semester, a student in the Senior Seminar should inform the faculty member teaching the seminar that she/he wishes to pursue honors status. Working together, the faculty member and the student will develop a program of work and mentoring for the designated “Honors Program Project,” which will minimally include:
    • the production of a longer paper (minimum of 30 double-spaced, typed pages) than for the regular seminar, one more thoroughly researched and sourced, which places the project in the context of the literature in gender studies on the topic;
    • mentoring outside of normal seminar class time with the faculty member, approximately 30 minutes a week, every 2-3 weeks;
    • a final mentoring session to review a first draft and the instructor’s comments for revision;
    • the submission of a final draft to the faculty member, who will determine whether the project merits honors status;
    • and the preparation of the final paper for submission for publication.
  • Once the project is approved and is deemed having met honors status by the mentoring faculty member, the student must submit a summary abstract of the completed project (approximately two pages in digital format) to the Program Chair, who will forward it with approval to the Honors Program Committee for inclusion in a Capstone Projects archive.
  • Finally, in addition to orally presenting their project during the regular senior seminar, all Gender Studies students pursuing honors capstone projects agree to participate and deliver a presentation in a spring semester venue to be decided (either the annual Dean’s reception or Undergraduate Research Symposium).

Jennifer Purcell, Chair

The department revised the format and the requirements for History 410 in 1997. Students will write a thesis of at least 40 pages, preferably developed from a paper previously written for an upper level seminar. Faculty rotate supervising the seminar every semester, but students choose (with faculty agreement) their topics and advisors. Among other guidelines accepted unanimously by the department are the following:

  • Beginning in the Spring of 2002 (adopted in March of 2002), the seminar leader and at least one other member of the department will interview each student individually in mid-semester regarding the progress of their research and writing (the department member with no or the fewest thesis advisees will usually be an interviewer);
  • There will be a four-student cap on the number of advisees any one advisor can assume;
  • The Chair will communicate every Spring to rising seniors that they need to identify topic and advisor by the end of their junior year;
  • If a topic is not identified and advisor contacted by the second week of the semester in which the student is enrolled in HI 410, the seminar leader should suggest the student enroll in another seminar; in the event it is the student’s final semester, the leader of the seminar may have to tell the student that he or she may not be able to work on a topic that is their first choice; in that case, an advisor may simply have to be assigned;
  • Incomplete grades are unacceptable in History 410, except in the case of compelling personal reasons or serious illness;
  • In all cases, the advisor who guides and advises a student is also the one who assigns the grade;
  • It is expected that all members of the department will attend the student presentations at the end of the semester (adopted April, 2002);
  • All department members will continue to urge if not require students to use as the basis and foundation for their senior thesis a research paper previously written for an upper division seminar;
  • The department chair will signify his or her approval of an honors thesis proposal by signing a letter addressed to the Honors Committee of the Faculty Assembly. Students who write theses as part of their Honors Program requirements will defend their theses before a department committee of two faculty members (the thesis advisor and the seminar director). An Honors Program thesis will normally be more than forty (40) pages in length and rely more extensively on the critical analysis of primary sources than most non-honors theses.

Michael Larsen and Lloyd Simons, Chair

A Senior Capstone Project is completed in the student’s major. Graduating Honors students usually develop and complete their capstone project in the context of their departmental senior seminar.

Students wishing to complete the Senior Capstone Project in Mathematics should begin planning for this component during their Junior year, in order to determine which option is best suited to their Senior year program and consider possible topics and supervisors. In some cases, it may even be desirable for a student to complete the project during the Junior year.

General Guidelines:

All Honors students will (with guidance from the supervisor): find a topic and/or problem in mathematics beyond the student’s standard mathematics curriculum; research the chosen topic at an advanced level; organize and write up the results of that research in a mathematically sophisticated manner. This research would be in an area of mathematics new to the student, who would then be expected to work through the relevant theory, proofs, examples, etc. and synthesize results, which may or may not be original. Results will be presented in written form and also presented in a public forum. At the end of the semester, both the written work and feedback from faculty will be used by the supervisor to determine whether the project merits Honors Program status.

All students completing an Honors capstone project will sign up for MA 495 – Honors Thesis in Mathematics, either as a Half Course or a Full Course, depending on the option chosen. This course does not count toward the major requirements; it is taken to fulfill requirements of the Honors Program.

Three options are available for Honors Capstone Projects in Mathematics:

Option 1: Senior Seminar Enhancement:

Complete an Honors Program Capstone as an add-on to the Senior Seminar course.

  • An Honors Program student taking the department’s MA 410 Senior Seminar in Mathematics (1/2 course) should, prior to enrolling for the course in the spring, inform the Seminar instructor of his/her intent to have their paper accepted as an Honors Program Capstone Project. This will allow (i) a proper mentoring relation to be established and (ii) agreement on the expectations for the project.
  • The student should also enroll in MA 495- Honors Thesis in Mathematics (1/2 course). The thesis supervisor may be different from the Seminar instructor; in this case, the Seminar instructor and thesis supervisor will coordinate expectations for the Capstone Project.
  • Since written papers and an oral presentations are already part of the general requirements for this course, it is expected that Honors students will research and present their topic in significantly greater depth and breadth than the non-honors students.

Option 2: Honors Thesis Independent Study:

Complete a half (2 credit) or full course (4 credits) of MA 495 – Honors Thesis in Mathematics

  • Mathematics Honors Program students must have permission of a supervisor and submit their independent study research proposal to the department chair before preregistration for the semester in which the proposed research is to take place.
  • Requirements and learning outcomes for the Thesis will depend upon the project, as formulated by the student and professor, but will be consistent with guidelines stated above.
  • In terms of work expectations, for the half-course option, during roughly the first 2/3 of the semester students are expected to spend approximately 4 hours/week of reading/formulating problems/making substantial progress on the proposed problems, and 1 hour/week meeting with the supervisor; in the last 1/3 of the semester students will organize their knowledge and carefully write up their results. For the full-course option, the time commitment is expected to be 10 hours per week.

Option 3: Upper Level Course Enhancement:

Complete an Honors Program Capstone within the context of a 300-level or 400-level MA full course.

  • Mathematics Honors Program students may formulate a proposal to include an Honors Capstone Project as part a 300-level or 400-level MA full course with the permission of the instructor of that course and then submit their proposal to the department chair before preregistration for the semester in which the proposed project is to take place. This component will be completed in addition to ordinary course requirements; it is taken to fulfill requirements of the Honors Program.
  • The student should also enroll in MA 495- Honors Thesis in Mathematics (1/2 course).
  • Requirements and learning outcomes for the Honors Program component, to be developed by the student and supervisor, will depend upon the project, but will be consistent with the guidelines stated above.

For all of the options:

Part of the writing-up process could include learning to use a mathematical type-setting software such as LaTeX or Scientific Word. The plans for writing-up the project will be formulated by the student and professor.

Possible venues for student presentation of the results include the year-end campus student symposium, the Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, the New England Statistics Symposium, the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences Student Symposium, another regional or national undergraduate mathematics and statistics forum, or at a department-sponsored mathematics and statistics colloquium.

Also note: Students must have permission of a supervisor and submit their research proposal to the department chair before preregistration for the semester in which the proposed research is to take place. This course does not count toward the major requirements; it is taken to fulfill requirements of the Honors Program.

MA 495 – Honors Thesis in Mathematics
Independent research and thesis under the supervision of a member of the mathematics/statistics faculty.
Prerequisites: Membership in the Honors Program, permission of Supervisor and Department Chair.
Half or Full course

Jerald Swope, Chair

  • Finished form will be either a Book, Multimedia Web Site, or Documentary Film
  • Substantive treatment of an important, socially significant topic and its related issues
    • you should be selecting and developing your own topic
    • the topic should be explored from interdisciplinary angles
    • this is an issue-based project
  • This is an in-depth nonfiction/documentary project, investigative
  • Professional-quality work and presentation
  • Targeted toward a national, international, or regional audience
  • The MJDA Senior Project is a vehicle for both interdisciplinary research and creative expression. You should work in a primary medium in which you have experience and talent; all projects should include both words and images.
  • The senior capstone project will be done in conjunction with MJD450 Senior Research Proposal Seminar (half class, fall semester) and MJD460 Senior Seminar (full course, spring semester). It involves critical review of related literature in at least two disciplines, interviews, and ethnographic observations.
  • The finished Book, Multimedia Web Site, or Documentary Film will be presented to diverse audiences in three arenas: 1) a formal presentation to the MJDA seniors and faculty; 2) a public presentation to the Saint Michael’s College community; and 3) when completed, your project should be published, posted live, and/or screened using appropriate facilities.
  • Students seeking an Honors Program designation for their MJDA senior capstone should meet individually with the professor of MJD460 to propose and complete related work in an additional medium.

Peter Vantine, Chair

  • Typically, the capstone project will be done in the context of the senior seminar (SP460 or FR460).
  • Students must inform the seminar instructor at the beginning of the course of his or her intent to make the thesis an Honors Program Capstone Project.
  • Honors Program students are expected to do at least 25% more work (writing papers that are 25% longer and doing 25% more research) on the final thesis than other students in the senior seminar. Since students in the senior seminar are expected to write a research paper of 20-25 pages in academic French or Spanish, Honors Program students should produce papers of at least 25-31 pages in length.
  • Honors Program students must also present their projects at the Student Research Symposium and are encouraged to present them in other venues.

Melissa VanderKaay Tomasulo, Chair

Students in the Honors Program have four options to complete an Honors Capstone Project within the cellular, behavioral, or cognitive neurosciences. Projects may take the form of one of the following:

1) NS 406 Honors Research Proposal and NS 408 Honors Research, year-long laboratory experience (2 credits per semester) that involves conducting a literature review, generating hypothesis(es), choosing and training on relevant methodology, writing an approved IRB/IACUC proposal (if applicable), collecting data, analyzing results, and writing a thesis paper, which also includes theoretical implications and conclusions;

2) NS 400 Independent Study, which will include the writing of a thesis that reviews theoretical, empirical, or clinical literature, and presents a critical evaluation of an existing theory by which an alternative conceptionalization of the problem should be suggested (4 credits, one semester);

3) NS 401 Senior Seminar project within the Neuroscience Seminar course and with similar requirements as the Intensive Independent Study, except that additionally, at the end of the semester the project must first be submitted to the Neuroscience Program Steering Committee to determine whether it merits Honors Program status. The committee can require revisions and allow a second submission. It is further expected that the student’s work will go above and beyond the requirements for non-honors students such that they should provide greater depth and breadth in their written work; or

4) Summer Research, which will either involve an Intensive laboratory experience or a scholarly project similar to the Intensive Independent Study (note. this experience is competitive and involves successful completion and acceptance of a grant proposal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Vermont Genetic Network, or other internal or external funding agency). For options one, two, and four students must first secure a faculty member to advise/mentor the project and come to an agreement with him/her about the project’s expectations. Students choosing option three must inform the Seminar instructor at the beginning of the course that he/she intends for the thesis to be accepted as an Honors Program Capstone Project. All students must orally present their work at the college-wide symposium in April.

Michael Olson, Chair

  • The department endorses the general guidelines in the Honors Program Handbook.
  • Typically, the capstone project will be done in the context of the senior seminar with the goal of composing a thesis worthy of being declared an ‘honors thesis’. This can be understood as a thesis that could function as the writing sample submitted as part of an application to a graduate Philosophy program or could be seen as the work of a first year graduate student.
  • An Honors Program student taking the department’s senior seminar should at the beginning of the seminar inform the seminar’s director of his/her intent to have their thesis accepted as an Honors Capstone Project. This will allow a proper mentoring relation to be established.
  • At the end of the semester, the thesis will be submitted to a department sub-committee to determine whether it merits Honors Program status. (The committee can require revisions and allow a second submission.)
  • If approved by a majority of the committee at least two of the following will be done:
    • the thesis or a shorter version can be submitted to an undergraduate philosophy journal for publication or submitted to an undergraduate philosophy conference for discussion among peers;
    • the student will discuss his/her thesis at a meeting of the department; students will be invited to attend;
    • the student will present his/her thesis or an abbreviated version on the College’s Research Symposium day.
  • In addition to completing a requirement for the Honors Program, the student’s thesis will receive an Honors Program designation from the department.

Alain Brizard, Chair for Physics Dept.

  • Successful completion of PY 410-411, Senior Seminar. This includes:
    • Submission of a written thesis
    • Oral presentation of work to peers and physics faculty
  • An Honors Program student taking the department’s senior seminar should, at the beginning of the course sequence in the fall, inform the seminar’s instructor of his/her intent to have their thesis accepted as an Honors Program Capstone Project. This will allow, i) a proper mentoring relation to be established, and ii) agreement on the expectations for the project.
  • Since a written thesis and an oral presentation are already part of the general requirements for this course, it is expected that the Honor’s student will present their topic in much greater depth and breadth than the regular students.
  • At the end of the second semester, both the written work and feedback from faculty will be used by the course instructor to determine whether the project merits Honors Program status.

Shefali Misra, Chair

  • The Political Science Department endorses the general guidelines in the Honors Program Handbook.
  • Normally, the Political Science honors capstone project will be undertaken within the semester-long Political Science Senior Seminar, PO410. No later than at the beginning of the semester, a student in the Senior Seminar should inform the faculty member teaching the seminar that she/he wishes to pursue honors status, and the faculty member and the student will develop a program of work and mentoring for the designated “Honors Program Project,” which will include:
    • the production of a longer paper (minimum of 30 double-spaced, typed pages) than for the regular seminar, one more thoroughly researched and sourced, which places the project in the context of the standard political science scholarship on the topic;
    • mentoring outside of normal seminar class time with the faculty member, approximately 30 minutes a week, every 2-3 weeks;
    • a final mentoring session to review a first draft and the instructor’s comments for revision;
    • and the submission of a final draft to the faculty member, who will determine whether the project merits honors status.
  • Once the project is approved and is deemed having met honors status by the mentoring faculty member, the student must submit a summary abstract of the completed project (approximately two pages in digital format) to the Department Chair, who will forward it with approval to the Honors Program Committee for inclusion in a Capstone Projects archive.
  • Finally, in addition to orally presenting their project during the regular senior seminar, all Political Science students pursuing honors capstone projects agree to participate and deliver a presentation in a spring semester venue to be decided (either the annual Dean’s reception or Undergraduate Research Symposium).

David Boynton, Chair

Psychology majors may fulfill the College honors capstone requirement in psychology by completing one of the following options:

  • PS 406/408 Independent Research: Honors in Psychology – this is the ONLY option for a student who also wishes to graduate with distinction in psychology;
  • A thesis originating from an on-campus summer research grant; or
  • A suitably enhanced thesis originating from advanced 400-level coursework.

Option 1: PS 406/408 Independent Research: Honors in Psychology (IRHP). Eligible students engage in independent laboratory, field, theoretical, or case study research supervised by a faculty mentor. In PS 406, students prepare a literature review and compose a proposal for research carried out during the following semester in PS 408. The second phase of the IRHP involves students carrying out and writing up their project in the form of a senior thesis. Students are required to present their completed projects orally in a departmental symposium at year’s end. Those completing the project will have “Independent Research: Honors in Psychology” inscribed on their final college transcript, and become eligible for the annual award given by the psychology department for the Outstanding Psychology Student of the Year.

Option 2: Thesis Originating from an On-Campus Summer Research Grant. Each year Saint Michael’s College provides opportunities for students who want to conduct summer research or create original work at the College under the mentorship of a faculty member. For example, Trustee Scholar grants are intended to support in-depth student inquiry and research experiences on the Saint Michael’;s College campus during the summer months. Summer student research may also be funded by grant money from other sources, such as the Vermont Genetics Network, the NASA Vermont Space Grant Consortium, and so on. These projects vary depending on the faculty mentor’s areas of expertise, but may focus on scientific, literary, historical, or social analysis, or production of scholarly or creative materials. Typically, summer research projects in psychology take the form of laboratory, field, or case studies. For summer research to count as an honors capstone, the proposed project must meet departmental expectations for honors-level work AND the student must receive approval from both the faculty sponsor and the department chair prior to conducting the project. Completion of a summer research experience will not in itself be sufficient for completion of the honors capstone requirement, and projects that were not pre-approved as honors capstone projects cannot count retroactively as having met the honors capstone. Students are required to present their completed projects orally in a departmental symposium at year’s end.

Option 3: Suitably Enhanced Thesis Originating from Advanced 400-Level Course Work. It may be possible for a student to expand a thesis for PS 400 Independent Research in Psychology, PS 401 History and Issues, or PS 450/460 Practicum into a College honors capstone thesis only if the proposed thesis project is within the instructor’s area of expertise AND the project meets departmental expectations for honors-level work. Moreover, Option 3 projects can qualify as a College honors capstone project only if the student receives approval from both the faculty sponsor and the department chair prior to conducting the project. Completion of an expanded thesis for PS 400, 401, or 450/460 will not in itself be sufficient for completion of the honors capstone requirement, and projects that were not pre-approved as honors capstone projects cannot count retroactively as having met the honors capstone. As with the above options, students pursuing this option will be required to present their completed projects orally in a departmental symposium at year’s end.

Ray Patterson, Chair

  • The department endorses the general guidelines in the Honors Program Handbook.
  • Typically, the capstone project will be done in the context of the senior seminar with the goal of composing a thesis worthy of being declared an ‘honors thesis’. Thus the thesis could function as the writing sample submitted as part of an application to a graduate Theology or Religious Studies program, or could be seen as the work of a first year graduate student.
  • An Honors Program student taking the department’s senior seminar should at the beginning of the seminar inform both the seminar’s director and the student’s thesis mentor of his/her intent to have their thesis accepted as an Honors Program Capstone Project. This will allow a proper mentoring s to be established.
  • At the end of the semester, the thesis will be submitted to a department sub-committee to determine whether it merits Honors Program status. (The committee can require revisions and allow a second submission.)
  • The student will present his/her thesis during the senior seminar presentation symposium, and will be asked to present the thesis at another public venue, such as Parent/Family Weekend in April.
  • In addition to completing a requirement for the Honors Program, the student’s thesis will receive an Honors Program designation from the department.

Robert Brenneman, Chair

Because we are a single Department with two separate tracks in distinctive disciplines, the standards described consist of a blend of what either might do independently. Thus in practice, the emphasis may vary slightly in one track or the other. As a principle, the Department endorses the general guidelines in the Honors Program Handbook. In both tracks, the added Capstone project will be conducted within the context of the existing Capstone offered in each track and be on a subject related to the course work.

In keeping with the Guidelines, our students will be expected to conduct a project that would be reflect the standards and expectations appropriate for a graduate level work in our respective disciplines. The project will also meet the guidelines suggested by the CEPC for the “Oral Communications” dimension of the Liberal Studies Requirements.

There will be three components of this project:

  • The student will be expected to work closely with the professor of the Capstone course to conduct research appropriate to the discipline that will also be of relevance to the class as a whole.
  • Still working with the professor, the student will then lead a discussion, prepare a significant lecture, project, presentation etc. that can be shared with the class so that:
    • The student conducting the class will learn well beyond what he/she would otherwise.
    • The class as a whole will learn from the content of the material as well as have the side benefit of observing a fellow student model higher standards of academic work well beyond what is normally expected of the modal undergraduate class.
  • Completed projects should be captured in a substantial paper (perhaps 20-30 pages) and shared with other members of the Department for feedback, and comment. The project should also be the source of talks/demonstrations/exhibits to a public audience which may include the Undergraduate Research Symposium, the Social Science Research Center, disciplinary conferences, or before representative groups of the sponsoring organizations (e.g., off campus school groups, research project funders, etc.)

Jo Ellis-Monaghan, Chair

All Honors students will (with guidance from the supervisor): identify a problem in applied or mathematical statistics or probability that requires the use of material beyond the student’s statistics curriculum; research the choice of topic at an advanced level; organize and write up the results of that research in a statistically and mathematically sophisticated manner; and present the results of that research in a public forum. This research would be in an area of statistics (applied statistics, mathematical statistics, or probability) new to each student, who would then be expected to work through the relevant examples, theory, methodology, simulation, etc., and synthesize results, which may or may not be original. Results will be written up and presented in a public forum.

All students completing an Honors capstone project will sign up for ST 495 – Honors Thesis in Statistics, either as a Half Course or a Full Course, depending on the option chosen. This course does not count toward the major requirements; it is taken to fulfill requirements of the Honors Program.

Three options are available for Honors Program Projects in Statistics

Option 1: Senior Seminar Enhancement:

Complete an Honors Program Capstone as an add-on to the Senior Seminar course.

  • An Honors Program student taking the department’s ST 410 Senior Seminar in Statistics (1/2 course) should, prior to enrolling for the course in the spring, inform the Seminar instructor of his/her/their intent to have their paper accepted as an Honors Program Capstone Project. This will allow (i) a proper mentoring relation to be established and (ii) agreement on the expectations for the project.
  • The student should also enroll in ST 495- Honors Thesis in Statistics (1/2 course). The thesis supervisor may be different from the Seminar instructor; in this case, the Seminar instructor and thesis supervisor will coordinate expectations for the Capstone Project.
  • Since written papers and an oral presentations are already part of the general requirements for this course, it is expected that the Honors student will present their topic in significantly greater depth and breadth than the non-honors students.

Option 2: Honors Thesis Independent Study:

Complete a half (2 credit) or full course (4 credits) of ST 495 – Honors Thesis in Statistics

  • Statistics Honors Program students must have permission of a supervisor and submit their independent study research proposal to the department chair before preregistration for the semester in which the proposed research is to take place.
  • Requirements and learning outcomes for the Thesis will depend upon the project, as formulated by the student and professor, but will be consistent with guidelines stated above.
  • In terms of work expectations, for the half-course option, during roughly the first 2/3 of the semester students are expected to spend approximately 4 hours/week of reading/formulating problems/making substantial progress on the proposed problems, and 1 hour/week meeting with the supervisor; in the last 1/3 of the semester students will organize their knowledge and carefully write up their results. For the full-course option, the time commitment is expected to be 10 hours per week.

Option 3: Upper Level Course Enhancement:

Complete an Honors Program Capstone within the context of a 300- or 400-level ST full course.

  • Statistics Honors Program students may formulate a proposal to include an Honors Program component as part a 300-level or 400-level ST full or half course with the permission of the instructor of that course and then submit their proposal to the department chair (or statistics coordinator) before preregistration for the semester in which the proposed component is to take place. This component will be completed in addition to ordinary course requirements; it is taken to fulfill requirements of the Honors Program.
  • The student should also enroll in ST 495- Honors Thesis in Statistics (1/2 course).
  • Requirements for the Honors Program component, to be developed by the student and supervisor, will depend upon the project, but will be consistent with guidelines stated above.

For all of the options:

  • Part of the writing-up process could include learning to use a mathematical type-setting software such as LaTeX or Scientific Word. The plans for writing-up the project will be formulated by the student and professor.
  • Possible venues for student presentation of the results include the year-end campus student symposium, the Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, the New England Statistics Symposium, the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences Student Symposium, another regional or national undergraduate mathematics and statistics forum, or at a department-sponsored mathematics and statistics colloquium.