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Honors Overview

Honors Majors in Chemistry, Biochemistry,  Interdisciplinary Chemical Science, or Biomolecular Science (BMS)


Students do NOT have to be a part of the Honors College to complete an Honors major.

Requirements for an Honors major:
● 3.4 GPA overall
● 3.4 GPA in the major
● 4 credits (spread over at least two terms) of undergraduate research (CHEM 398 or CHEM 399 )
● Successful completion of an Honors thesis. CHEM 498 or 499 (1 credit) should be taken during the term in which you complete and turn in your thesis.
● BMS majors must also complete an additional upper-level Chemistry lecture elective.

As you begin your undergraduate research, you will likely be very directed in your work. In addition to getting up to speed on current work in a specific research area, you will be helping to run experiments and learning specific techniques and protocols for obtaining data. In order to write an Honors Thesis you will need to attain a role that goes beyond that of a trainee; your role should incorporate decision making. The goal is not necessarily for you to become be the sole decision maker on your project. Rather, you should be part of a team thinking critically about what next step/s to take in order to answer your research question and why. You should also have an active role in analyzing experimental results, deciding what they mean and if/how they answer your research question.

Once you begin to take on roles in decision making and data analysis, you can think about pursuing an Honors Thesis. Be sure to talk to your faculty research advisor if your intent is to pursue an Honors Thesis so that they can help you progress into these types of roles. Planning ahead is very important since you will need time to collect enough experimental data to write about. Although your thesis must be your own original work, your research advisor should be consulted in developing and outline for your thesis. Next, you should write a first draft, and your research advisor should read this and provide you with feed-back and corrections. You should make sure you allow sufficient time for you to write the thesis and for your advisor to read/correct and provide feedback on your thesis.

An Honors Thesis follows a structure similar to a formal laboratory report (but much larger).  It  includes an introduction reviewing the scholarly work in the field; a materials and methods section; results; a discussion of your results and interpretation of your data; and a references section.  You should register for CHEM 498 or 499 in either the Fall or Winter term in which you intend to turn in your Honors Thesis. At the beginning of this semester, you will be given the specific formatting guidelines and deadlines by the Chemistry faculty member who is overseeing CHEM 398/399 that term. Your Honors Thesis is due on the last day of classes of the term.  It may be submitted electronically or as a bound paper copy.  

CHEM 498 or 499 can be used to fulfill the Upper Level Writing Requirement (ULWR) but only by filling out an Honors Thesis Intent Form.   

In order to earn the ULWR designation, you will need more frequent and hands on feedback on the writing process from your thesis advisor (the research advisor in whose lab you carried out your research.) 

You can find samples of Honors Thesis in the Chemistry office (CHEM 1500.)  Please contact Angie Cox ( if you would like to see one.