University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

College Honors

Frequently Asked Questions

"I'm in the Honors College. Do I have to complete a College Honors thesis, or can I sign up for Honors through my major department?"

Students in the Honors College are required to complete a College Honors thesis. The College of Arts and Sciences considers the process of writing a College Honors thesis to be the capstone of the Honors College experience. Consequently, departmental honors coursework or "Readings and Research" are not sufficient to fulfill this requirement.

"I'm graduating in December; can I still receive College Honors?"

Yes. In this case, you would submit an application package to the College Honors Committee the February before you graduate. Your deadlines are then moved from May to December. Check our "Important Dates" page for specific deadlines.

"Do I have to write my College Honors thesis in my major department?"

No. However, the Committee will have difficulty approving an application when the student has no background in a particular area. Consequently, if you wish to write your thesis in an area other than your major, it is wisest to work in an area in which you have significant academic training, such as your minor.

"What's the best way to go about approaching a faculty member about advising my project? How soon should I identify a thesis supervisor?"

Be aware that this can vary from department to department. The Committee recommends that you start by writing down some ideas that you might like to explore in your thesis. Next, summarize these ideas into two or three short paragraphs-- no more than a page or so. Then, make an appointment with several professors that you think might want to work with you and bring the page with you to show to the professors. Leave it with them so that they have some way to match you with your ideas. If you don't get a response right away, call back those professors you are most eager to work with. This process is best started in the second semester of the junior year, since it can actually take some time to locate an appropriate thesis supervisor-- someone with an interest in the area you want to study, but also someone that you feel comfortable with and who will give you the attention required to help you complete your thesis.

"How long is the proposal supposed to be?"

As stated in the application package, the entire proposal, excluding references, must not exceed 8 pages. The proposals that are easiest to approve are concise; that is, they make their point strongly and convincingly in the fewest possible words. Longer proposals tend to include unnecessary information that may confuse the Committee, resulting in a request for resubmission or clarification rather than outright acceptance by the Committee. Proposals in the natural sciences tend to be shorter than those in the humanities, as is expected based on the nature of each discipline.

"Can I see examples of proposals that have been successfully approved?"

Absolutely, we have several downloadable examples in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

"Can any faculty member serve as my thesis supervisor?"

No. thesis supervisors must be tenured or tenure-track professors in the College of Arts and Sciences. As a courtesy, students often refer to all faculty as "Professor," but some faculty are not permitted to serve as thesis supervisors. Only Professors, Associate Professors, and Assistant Professors in the College of Arts and Sciences can be thesis supervisors. Lecturers, Instructors, or faculty from other UVM colleges do not qualify. To find out if a faculty member is permitted to be a thesis supervisor, ask him or her or check his or her title in the catalogue (look for the section at the end entitled "Faculty").

In some cases, students wish to work closely with a professor from another college (for example, Biology majors often wish to do research with a faculty member in the Medical College and have that faculty member join their thesis committee). In such cases, students still must designate a tenured or tenure-track faculty member from the College of Arts and Sciences as their official thesis supervisor.

"Do the other members of my thesis committee need to have tenure or tenure-track status or be from the College of Arts and Sciences?"

Although any UVM faculty member may serve as a second or third member of the thesis committee, the A&S College Honor's Committee strongly recommends that the Committee Chair (who must be from outside the department of the thesis supervisor) be a tenured or tenure-track professor in the College of Arts and Sciences.

"How do I get credit for my College Honors Thesis?"

When submitting a College Honors proposal, students should register for the appropriate Honors course (HON 2XX) through the department in which they hope to pursue their Honors work. For example, Biology students should sign up for HON 208 in the fall and HON 209 in the spring; English students should sign up for HON 220 in the fall and HON 221 in the spring. In the event that an Honors course in the student's department is not listed in the course newspaper, the student should consult with the Chair of the Honors Committee.

Students must take 6.0 credits of HON 2XX coursework to receive College Honors. Typically, these 6 credits are distributed evenly between the first and second semesters, i.e. 3 credits each semester. However, if, for reasons owing to a student's schedule (the student is already registered for, say, 16 credits), a student wishes to do so, College Honors credit may be variably distributed across the two semesters with the permission of the Honors Committee, i.e. 2 credits the first semester and 4 the next, 1 and 5, 4 and 2, or 2 and 4. Please note that this is an "accounting issue" only; students are expected to do an equal amount of work both semesters regardless of how the credit is distributed.

"The CAS Honors Committee has asked me to revise my proposal. What can I do to increase the likelihood of getting my revision accepted?"

Given that the Committee has to address a large number of proposals in a short time, the Committee's comments and suggestions are often concisely worded. It is best for the student to approach his or her thesis supervisor as quickly as possible in order to go over the Committee's comments. Even if the student or his or her supervisor does not agree with (all of) the Committee's comments, it is best to address each of the comments as comprehensively as possible. The Committee will often look at the effort that seems to have gone into the revision in addressing all of its concerns, in addition to the substantive changes that were made. Students are also advised to ask their thesis supervisor, in the thesis supervisor's email that is to accompany the revision, to comment in detail on the changes that have been made in the revision.

"Is it possible to pursue an Honor's thesis in the Independently Designed Major or Minor (IDM) in CAS?"


Last modified June 10 2015 06:34 PM