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Honors Majors

All departments and interdisciplinary programs offer Honors versions of their majors, which are coded as Honors Plans. At the beginning of the third year, or when it is appropriate in the department's process, students may apply to a departmental Honors major. Students who meet departmental criteria are eligible to apply whether or not they have previously been in the Honors Program. Admission of upperclass students is determined by LSA departments and programs.  Students will be required to have a cumulative GPA of 3.4 to graduate with Honors; they may embark on an Honors major before they have reached that threshold, but the minimum should be attainable by the time they graduate.

Students who are accepted into an Honors plan automatically become LSA Honors students.

Honors majors are described under the relevant departmental listingsCandidates for graduation with Honors must perform very well in courses and also demonstrate ability in original thesis work and, in some majors, pass a comprehensive examination. Effective fall 2004, students graduating with an Honors plan are required to earn an overall GPA of 3.4. Individual departments may have higher GPA requirements for courses in the major. Check Honors plan guidelines within individual departments.

Many departments require their Honors majors to register for special seminars and independent study research courses. During the senior year, Honors majors carry out research and write a thesis under the direction of a faculty mentor. With only a few exceptions, graduation with Honors requires the completion of a Senior Honors thesis. 

After an evaluation of the thesis and the overall academic record, Honors department advisors recommend that students graduate with an Honors degree. 

The department will then send one of four possible recommendations to the Honors Office: "No Honors," "Honors," "High Honors," or "Highest Honors." No Honors is given for work that does not meet departmental standards, and for students with GPAs under 3.4 ("No Honors" is not noted on the transcript or diploma.) The other three will be posted on the final transcript and diploma. Honors majors are described under the relevant departmental listings under Majors and Minors.

Students may also petition the Honors Program for approval of an Honors Individualized Major Program (HIMP). Information about the program is available in 1330 Mason Hall. 

In some rare circumstances, departments may ask the Honors Academic Board to graduate with Honors a student whose cumulative GPA is below the required threshold at the time of graduation. The request should be made by the faculty advisors who know the student's work and history best, but must be endorsed by the director of undergraduate studies and the chair of the department. The letter(s) for this request should explain the student's circumstances, describe the Honors work, and provide a justification for making an exception to the GPA requirement.

The Honors IMP is intended for exceptional students who wish to undertake a liberal arts program of study not currently available in an existing departmental major or program. HIMPs are interdepartmental or interdisciplinary in character and include courses from a variety of sources. While the HIMP encourages diversity and flexibility, each HIMP must have an identifiable academic focus within LSA, an appropriate disciplinary base, and unifying theme, and culminate in the writing of an Honors thesis. An HIMP should not be a specialization within an already existing major. It should include an adequate number of prerequisite courses.

Since HIMPs require an unusual level of intellectual competence and maturity, an overall GPA of 3.5 and, in most cases, a 3.7 in courses related to the HIMP subject are required for admission to the program. The Honors Academic Board reviews all proposals.

Graduation with "Honors," "High Honors," or "Highest Honors" is granted upon recommendation of the thesis advisor and readers.

Honors Advising. Students interested in submitting an HIMP should schedule an appointment with Dr. D.L. Wessel Walker, Associate Director of the Honors Program, to discuss goals and procedures. A formal prospectus, developed in consultation with appropriate faculty advisor, is then submitted for review and approval by the Honors Academic Board. 

Students who have completed at least 58 credits in residence and have demonstrated high academic achievement and capacity for independent work in a departmental Honors concentration program may be recommended for a degree "with Highest Honors," "with High Honors," or "with Honors" in the major. Capacity for independent work must be demonstrated in part by superior performance in an Honors program or some achievement of equivalent character. A minimum overall grade point average of 3.4 is required. A notation is made on the diploma and the transcript.

During the senior year, Honors majors carry out research and write a thesis under the direction of a faculty mentor. With only a few exceptions, such as Math and Computer Science, graduation with Honors requires the completion of a Senior Honors thesis. This consists of detailed, original research in a student's chosen field. The thesis is normally completed during the senior year. Length and format requirements vary by department. Thesis research and writing is normally done under the direction of a professor who shares the student's areas of interest.

Many departments require their Honors majors to register for special seminars and independent study research courses. Other departments do not have these courses, so their students can choose to enroll in HONORS 490. Since thesis research and writing most often extends beyond one term, the course may be assigned a "Y" grade for the term or terms prior to completion. This simply means "extended course" or "work in progress." At the completion of the thesis, one letter grade will be assigned for all the terms involved. Unlike an "I" (for an incomplete), the "Y" does not remain on the record.

After an evaluation of the thesis and the overall academic record, Honors department advisors recommend that students graduate with Honors. Deadlines and procedures for evaluating senior theses vary by department. Some departments have a committee that evaluates all theses, whereas others are based primarily on the judgment of the student's advisor and the Departmental Honors advisor.

The Department will then send one of four possible recommendations to the Honors Office: "No Honors," "Honors," "High Honors," or "Highest Honors." No Honors is given for work that does not meet departmental standards, and for students with GPAs under 3.4 ("No Honors" is not  noted on the transcript or diploma). The Honors Academic Board will accept petitions from departments requesting exceptions to the above minimum GPA requirements if there is compelling evidence that an Honors student's final GPA does not adequately represent the student's record of outstanding academic achievement. The other three recommendations ("Honors," "High Honors," "Highest Honors") will be posted on the final transcript and diploma. These are separate from the Distinction awards, which are also posted on graduates' diplomas and transcripts. Levels of Distinction are awarded on the basis of the student's final cumulative GPA.

All seniors are eligible to apply for senior thesis and travel grants. These include the Graf Research Grant, the Hellman Family Grant, the Davidson Grant, the Kennedy Travel Grant, and the Cutcheon Research and Travel Grants. Information is available in the Honors Office, and on the Honors website.

Honors Thesis Intent Form for the Upper-Level Writing Requirement:
Honors students have the option of using their senior theses to satisfy the Upper-Level Writing Requirement. A Sweetland Center for Writing Thesis Intent Form is available in the Honors Office, and must be filled out by the student and the thesis advisor. An Honors Director will then approve the request, and it will be forwarded to the Sweetland Center for Writing for processing. This form should be completed within the first couple of weeks of the term the student plans to finish the thesis. Completion of the requirement hinges on satisfactory completion of the thesis. The form is available in the Honors Office or is downloadable from the Honors website.

Deep Blue Archive. The Honors Program recognizes the significance of the scholarship in Honors theses by making it permanently available to the academic community. This can be done by Honors students depositing their thesis in the Honors Thesis collection of the University of Michigan's Deep Blue electronic archive. Every term after graduation, the Honors academic auditor sends all Honors graduates information and web links to submit the Honors thesis in the Deep Blue archive.

Students who have completed at least 58 credits in residence and have demonstrated high academic achievement and capacity for independent work in a departmental Honors concentration program may be recommended for a degree "with Highest Honors," "with High Honors," or "with Honors" in the major. Capacity for independent work must be demonstrated in part by superior performance in an Honors program or some achievement of equivalent character. A minimum overall grade point average of 3.4 is required. A notation is made on the diploma and the transcript.