The Honors Program at Cedar Crest College, which is interdisciplinary in approach, has an emphasis on developing the talents of gifted students and is therefore designed to cultivate their intellectual independence. To be admitted to the program you must meet the requirements discussed in the Catalog under the Honors Program and continue to maintain a 3.5 G.P.A. The program requires four courses (at least 12 total credits) in the Honors Curriculum and six credits of Honors research (HON 350, 351). Writing an honors thesis on your research project can be a truly enriching experience and this may be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences you will have as an undergraduate.
In your first year, you will take two challenging courses that are designed to introduce you to diverse interdisciplinary approaches to the questions and problems inherent in humanity.
In the fall, you will take an Honors FYE (First Year Experience) course.
In the spring, a Writing I Honors course continues the fall objectives but with a specific focus that expands and explores the interdisciplinary approach of the Honors Program.
In order to graduate with an Honors Diploma, a student must take four courses (12 credit hours) in the Honors curriculum. It is recommended that you use this year to complete this requirement and register for those remaining required courses. Taking additional Honors courses is certainly encouraged, though not required.
In the fall of your junior year, you will register for BIO 350 Junior Colloquium. As part of this course you will accomplish three tasks: choose an honors research project, find an advisor and write an honors research proposal.
1. Choosing an Honors Research Project
The Honors research experience (6 credits) will normally be an Honors-enhanced research requirement of the Department of Biological Sciences. However, a student may choose to conduct a separate and additional Honors research project or creative project, outside the department, to complete the Honors research experience.
As part of the Biology Colloquium course departmental faculty will present research projects available in their area of interest and expertise. It is important that you choose a project that really interests you, as you are going to work on this project for a year or longer.
2. Finding an Advisor
Once you have decided upon an area of interest, contact a faculty member and discuss what projects are feasible and suitable for an honors project. Remember, both the faculty advisor and the Biological Sciences Honors Committee must approve all honors projects.
3. Writing an Honors Research Proposal
The proposal should include:
• Objectives - establish an hypothesis that explains the question to be answered
• Scientific significance - describe how the project relates to existing knowledge
• Suitability of methods - demonstrate familiarity with methods available
• Data Analysis - include planned statistical analyses, if applicable
• Qualifications of investigator - include a resume
• Expected timetable – identify specific objectives and their completion times
• Amount of funding if required - list equipment, supplies required to complete your project
Use the organizational format provided by the BIO 350 instructor in the design of the proposal, but be sure to include the items listed above.
Copies of the honors research proposal will be submitted to the BIO 350 course instructor and your research advisor according to the BIO 350 course schedule. A copy of the honors research proposal must be submitted to the Biological Sciences Honors Committee for review no later than December 1. The Biological Sciences Honors Committee will inform you by the end of the second week of the spring semester if your proposal is acceptable or if revisions are necessary.
During the spring of junior year, you are encouraged to begin reading primary literature, books and other documents in the area of your research interest. Some projects may require you to begin methodology and/or collection of data during the spring semester and even into the summer (if available). If conducting research during the spring semester of your junior year, you must register for Bio 353 - Independent Research.
Graduation with honors in the Biological Sciences requires six (6) credits of honors research (Hon 350, 351). These courses will be taken in lieu of the required 4 credits of Bio 353 for Biological Science majors.
Honors 350 – Honors Thesis/Project (3 credits)
Bio 353 – Independent Research (0 credits; mentor's section)
Bio 355 – Science, Ethics & Society (2 credits)
It is likely that some changes in your research proposal may have occurred regarding the direction of the honors project since your initial proposal was written and submitted during your junior year. Therefore, by the end of the second week of classes, you must submit a current, revised if necessary, honors research proposal with an accurate timetable to the Biological Sciences Honors Committee.
Schedule a meeting with your research advisor to discuss a timetable for progress reports and to review problems and collected data. Write your preliminary introduction, methods and materials and bibliography sections of your thesis and submit drafts to your advisor.
Most honor students submit an abstract of their research to the Pennsylvania Academy of Science during the second week of December for presentation at the annual meeting in April. In place of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science, you may submit an abstract to another state, national or international meeting. Another option is to prepare a manuscript of your research suitable for publication. This should be completed by May 1.
You will prepare and present a ten-minute progress report on your research project at the end of the fall semester.
Honors 351 – Honors thesis/project (3 credits)
Bio 353 – Independent Research (0 credits; mentor's section)
Bio 354 – Thesis and Presentation (1 credit)
The introduction, materials and methods sections of your paper should be completed and in final form by the beginning of March. At this time you should begin writing the results and discussion sections and finish your bibliography.
Submit the final form of your honors thesis. This is due on April 15th.
A twenty-minute oral presentation of your thesis to the college community is required. (Early May)
Presentation and Defense of Your Thesis
Following this twenty-minute oral presentation, there will be a ten-minute question and answer period. The college community, including members of the Biological Sciences Honors Committee, will ask you questions about your research. These questions should generate a discussion between you and the Biological Sciences Honors Committee. The Biological Sciences Honors Committee will meet after your presentation and decide whether to recommend you for graduation with honors. If they decide that your thesis does not qualify for honors, then your thesis will become your capstone experience.