Honors in the Discipline

The College of Science encourages undergraduate students to participate in the research community at Northeastern by working with a faculty mentor on independent research. Undergraduate students can earn honors distinction in their discipline on their transcripts by successfully completing a COS honors research project. Students need not be members of the university-wide Honors Program to receive Honors in the Discipline.

Eligible undergraduate students in the College of Science who propose and successfully complete research projects of sufficient scope (as described below) will receive honors distinction in their discipline. This will be recorded on the transcript as “Honors in [Name of Discipline].”

How Does it Work?

Ordinarily the scholarly project will be a single project pursued for two semesters and be equivalent to a total minimum of 8 semester hours of academic coursework. Ideally, the research will be conducted under the courses XXXX 4970 Junior/Senior Honors Project 1 (4SH) during the first semester of research and XXXX 4971 Junior/Senior Honors Project 2 (4SH) in the subsequent semester, where XXXX is the departmental prefix.

From time to time, a student may begin a research project under a different form of directed study, such as XXXX 4991 Research, or XXXX 4994 Internship. If of sufficiently high quality, such projects may be extended, with the approval of the College, for another 4SH to obtain Honors in the Discipline. The COS Dean’s Office strongly recommends that all Honors in the Discipline projects culminate in XXXX 4971 Junior/Senior Honors Project 2, regardless of the first course used to fulfill the requirements.

When to Submit Your Proposal

This means that the proposal must be developed and presented for approval before the beginning of the second research semester. In practice, this will ordinarily mean that the proposal must be submitted to the COS Dean’s Office for review at least three weeks prior to the start of the term.

The faculty mentor is a very important element in the success of the project and should be chosen carefully. She or he will be a resource to the student throughout the research, from the development of the proposal to the dissemination of the results. The most successful projects tend to arise when the student-mentor connection is strong and built on shared intellectual interests.

After the proposal is approved, the mentor can register the student for the Honors in the Discipline course by filling out this form.

Eligibility to Pursue Honors in the Discipline

  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.500
  • Must have Junior/Senior standing
  • Must have secured the participation of a faculty mentor
  • Mentors must be full-time faculty members

Application Process

  • Student prepares research project description with input from faculty mentor
  • Student secures the signature of the faculty mentor to serve as research advisor
  • Student secures the signature of the department chair(s), or the department coordinator for Honors in the Discipline, should one exist
  • Application submitted via on-line form and reviewed by the Dean’s Office

The application, which includes the project description and required signatures, may be completed via the fillable PDF cover sheet located here.

Project Description

The project description is the most significant part of the proposal. It must be approved before a student may register for Junior/Senior Honors Project. The project description should be a brief narrative description of the proposed project, expected outcomes, and form of the finished product. It is usually at least 750 – 1000 words in length. The narrative should include the thesis or research question; theoretical framework; methodology and data source, if relevant; significance of the contribution; and a clear statement of the rationale and goals of the final project. If relevant previous work has been done, e.g. while on co-op or in another directed study course, please indicate the bearing it will have on the proposed project. The proposal should also briefly describe what guidance the faculty research advisor will provide, and how the final product will be evaluated.

If the student’s work uses human subjects, the student may have to get Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval before starting research. To determine whether or not IRB approval is necessary please reference the IRB website.

Collaborative Project Proposals

Proposals for collaborative projects must include the following elements:

  • Statement explaining the reason for pursuing a collaborative project/li>
  • Statement of prior experience with collaborative projects, if any/li>
  • Statement of how the workload will be divided between participants/li>
  • Evidence that the project will be twice as substantive as an individual project would be

These additional elements are necessary because the result of a successful project will be a designation of Honors in the Discipline on each individual participant’s transcript.

Successful Completion

The final project must be approved by the appropriate department as meeting the criterion of significant, honors-worthy research embedding both intellectual engagement and rigor.

  • Departments may require a more comprehensive proposal than the brief project description required by the College
  • Each department will establish a process by which successful completion will be determined
  • Each department will send names of successfully completed students to the Dean’s Office
  • Public presentation of the completed project at a College-sanctioned event may be required

Start the Honors in the Discipline process today.