• By the end of their junior year (90 US credits), students must have taken four Honors Seminars. Honors Seminars are intellectually stimulating courses taught by dynamic faculty in small-class settings. Honors Seminars are interdisciplinary and distinctive in their focus, depth, projects, and activities. These courses encourage Honors students to exercise their intellectual curiosity and develop awareness of their place in the world. Honors Seminars fulfill the students’ General Education requirements. In order to avoid having to enroll in more General Education courses than necessary, students should be aware of which General Education requirements are satisfied by each Honors Seminar they intend to take.
• After successfully completing at least three Honors Seminars, students undertake the Honors Thesis project, which offers them the opportunity to conduct original research and produce creative work under the mentorship of an experienced and qualified faculty member. The faculty mentor (thesis advisor) will be approved by the head of the appropriate academic department in collaboration with the IHP Director, based on the student’s topic. The Honors Thesis project (which carries 3 US credits) is completed in two semesters and in two stages:
Stage 1: Students are required to take HEL 2501 Honors Thesis I, which is intended to help them initiate the process of research, create a Thesis proposal with a comprehensive bibliography, identify an appropriate faculty thesis advisor, and seek additional guidance on discipline-specific matters. Honors Thesis I must be taken by the end of the student’s junior year.
(1 US credit)
Stage 2: Students work under the supervision of a faculty thesis advisor to produce the Honors Thesis with which they complete their studies in the International Honors Program. The writing of the Thesis begins immediately after HEL 2501 Honors Thesis I has been successfully completed. Under normal circumstances, a student needs a semester to finish the Thesis.
(2 US credits)
The 3 US credits for the Honors Thesis serve as general electives credit.
Honors Seminars (12 US credits)
Honors Seminars offer motivated and academically committed Honors students an enriched educational experience. Honors Seminars:
• focus on a creative and challenging course theme
• engage students in an active, inquiry-based learning process
• encourage imagination, originality of thought, and creativity
• culminate in innovative project-based assessments
• develop students’ civic and leadership skills through co-curricular activities
Honors students satisfy General Education core requirements by taking four Honors Seminars. To begin taking Honors Seminars, students must have completed the first two Writing Program courses, WP 1010 and WP 1111. Honors Seminars tend to be cross-disciplinary, combining perspectives from the humanities, and/or the natural sciences, and/or the social sciences.
Since Honors Seminars are meant to fulfill General Education requirements, they do not necessarily demand more work than is required in a regular General Education course. However, Honors Seminars require work of a different nature, as they invite students to assume responsibility for their own learning and respond to ideas and issues on a more complex level.
Ideally, students should finish all four of the Honors Seminars no later than the end of the first semester of their junior year.
HEL 2501: Honors Thesis I (1 US credit)
Students take HEL 2501 Honors Thesis I at least one semester prior to the semester in which they submit the Honors Thesis. HEL 2501 Honors Thesis I may be taken concurrently with the fourth Honors Seminar.
HEL 2501 Honors Thesis I prepares students to embark on the Honors Thesis project by
• helping them discover a topic (research activity or creative project);
• introducing them to cross-disciplinary research methodology;
• guiding them in their search for an Honors Thesis advisor;
• teaching them to organize an Honors Thesis Proposal.
The Honors Thesis Proposal is a short paper (1,200—2,000 words, including a bibliography) that outlines the student’s intended Thesis project. It comprises the following sections:
• Statement of research question or focus of creative activity
• Rationale for choosing the specific Thesis topic
• Literature review for background and context
• Description of the format of the Honors Thesis (scientific research, creative project, etc.)
• Description of the methodology (how the project will be executed)
• Collected Bibliography on the topic
Thesis Proposals are reviewed and approved by the faculty teaching HEL 2501 Honors Thesis I, the student’s Thesis advisor, and the Director of the International Honors program.
The Thesis Proposal must be submitted and approved by the end of the student’s junior year (i.e. two semesters and two sessions prior to graduation).
HEL 2602 Honors Thesis II (2 US credits)
As the hallmark component of the International Honors Program experience, the Honors Thesis project enables students to reflect on and extend their educational experience by exploring an area of interest or expertise, either within their major or across disciplines. It offers students the opportunity to work closely with faculty members who share similar research or creative interests.
A student should begin the writing of the Honors Thesis the semester after successful completion of HEL 2501 Honors Thesis I.
Honors Theses may assume different formats and adopt different methodological approaches. In all cases, however, a Thesis project involves substantial writing. A Thesis that is a research essay should be at least 5,000 words in length; a Thesis that is an artistic/creative project should contain a minimum 2,000-word written component.
Some possible Honors Thesis formats are:
• Creative / Portfolio / Digital Project (arts / humanities / social sciences)
• Performance / Display Project (arts / humanities / social and natural sciences)
• Research Paper / Scientific Project (humanities / social and natural sciences)
• Business Project (business / social sciences)
• Design Project (business / technology / social and natural sciences)
Other possibilities may be agreed upon in consultation with the International Honors Advisory Committee.
Although the Honors Thesis may be related to the coursework done in the students’ departmental capstone course at Level 6, it cannot simply duplicate that work.
What is the benefit of writing an Honors Thesis?
An excellent Honors Thesis adds significantly to the academic credentials of a student, and may even yield a publication and/or a conference presentation. Moreover, Thesis advisors are in a position to write very strong recommendation letters in support of applications to graduate school or professional employment. Given the effort and discipline required, an Honors Thesis enhances a student’s competitive edge by making his/her undergraduate degree count more with Graduate school admissions committees and prospective employers. In short, the Thesis is the culmination of an International Honors student’s education and a valuable step toward success in a future career or graduate study.
Identifying a Thesis Advisor
The Thesis Advisor may be from the student’s own major, but this is not a requirement, as a student is free to develop Thesis topics from another discipline, or a combination of disciplines. Identifying an appropriate Thesis Advisor is crucial for the successful completion of the Thesis project:
• A Thesis Advisor (who will be approved by the head of the relevant academic department in collaboration with the IHP Director, based on the student’s topic), should be an expert in the field within which the Thesis is written and must be familiar with current scholarship on the subject.
• The Thesis Advisor needs to be available to meet with the student and to guide the student through the stages of drafting and revising. The terms and conditions that determine the collaboration of Thesis Advisor and Honors student advisee are detailed in the Honors Thesis Handbook.
• The Thesis Advisor must be able to hold regular meetings with the student in order to discuss the progress of the Thesis project (hour-long meetings should be held at least once every other week).
• If the subject of the Thesis project is interdisciplinary, the student may need to consider the option of two Thesis Advisors.
• A student whose Thesis topic is in Business may consider the option of seeking a Thesis Advisor from ALBA Graduate Business School.
The student’s work on the Thesis officially begins once
• The Thesis Advisor agrees to sign the Honors Thesis Proposal Form that accompanies the Thesis Proposal;
• The student submits the signed form to the International Honors Program office;
• The Honors Thesis Committee (which comprises the Director of the International Honors Program, the Thesis advisor, and two faculty members with expertise related to the Thesis subject area) reviews and approves the Thesis Proposal. The process for the selection of the Honors Thesis Committee is detailed in the Honors Thesis Handbook.
Submission of the Honors Thesis/ Oral Defense
In order to complete the Honors Thesis requirement, students must have their Thesis evaluated and approved by the Honors Thesis Committee. In preparing their Thesis for submission, students should keep in mind the following:
• Before submission of the final draft of the Thesis, students must write and revise various drafts of the project, under the guidance of the Thesis Advisor.
• The Thesis Advisor must receive the final draft of the Thesis at least one month before the date of final review by the Honors Thesis Committee.
• The Thesis advisor must sign the Submission Statement which will accompany the Thesis.
• The other three members so the Honors Thesis Committee must receive the final draft of the Thesis at least two weeks before the date of final review.
• For a Thesis to be officially approved, all four members of the Honors Thesis Committee must agree to sign the Submission Statement.
• If members of the Honors Thesis Committee propose corrections that need to be made for final approval, the student may have to resubmit the following semester.
The Honors Thesis Advisor uses the Thesis Assessment Rubric to determine the grade that a student receives for his/her Honors Thesis. For the Thesis to receive final approval, the Advisor’s grade must be agreed to by the other Committee members (excluding the IHP Director).
IHP students are required to make an oral presentation of their Thesis project. The Thesis Defense offers students the opportunity to “defend” their Thesis project by responding to questions and remarks from the Honors Thesis Committee in a public forum which may include other students, faculty, as well as the student’s guests.
The oral defense normally lasts no more than an hour: the student presents the main points of his/her research project for approximately 15-20 minutes, after which he/she responds to questions from the audience.
Following a successful Oral Defense, as determined by the Honors Thesis Committee, the student has completed his/her studies in the International Honors Program.
To be given credit for HEL 2602 Honors Thesis II, students have to successfully complete the Oral Defense of their thesis and to make changes as requested by the Honors Thesis Committee.