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Honors & Non-Honors Thesis Program

The Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience administers a Honors & Non-Honors Program to train students to conduct independent research in Neuroscience.  In addition to completing all the requirements for the major, an honors degree in the major requires:

  1. major and cumulative GPA of at least 3.4
  2. completion of significant independent research
  3. a written thesis
  4. presentation in a public forum.

A Non-Honors thesis may be submitted and should follow requirements 2-4 above.  For a non-honors thesis the GPA requirement is waived.


Preparing for a Thesis Project (Sophomore or Junior Year)

  • Review the Student Research information and identify an appropriate research mentor (and co-sponsor if necessary). It is recommended that you choose a mentor/sponsor by the end of your sophomore year. Remember that if your chosen research mentor is not on the list of approved co-sponsors, you will need to identify a co-sponsor from the list. The co-sponsor will evaluate the student’s research proposal to ensure it is appropriate for neuroscience.
  • Register (or plan) for at least two terms of independent research (MCDB 300/400 or PSYCH 424 and 426) depending on their field of study. Most students register for three or four terms of independent research. If you are working with a sponsor who is out of unit and have a co-sponsor, you will register for research credit under the co-sponsor’s research section.
  • Identify 1 - 2 Readers who agree to review your thesis. These should be research-active faculty members in Psychology or MCDB with an understanding of your research topic. You need three faculty total to review your thesis: one will be your sponsor, one will be your co-sponsor (if applicable), and the other 1 - 2 must be identified by you.
    • Readers must agree to turn in their evaluations within 10 days of the thesis due date (April 10, August 10, or December 10 for winter, summer, or fall).
    • Students may petition the Honors Committee for an exception to this rule by submitting a detailed reason for the request at least three weeks prior to the submission deadline for the thesis.

Applying to the Neuroscience Honors & Non-Honors Program (Junior Year)

  • The Neuroscience Thesis Application is online. You must have a sponsor and/or co-sponsor, reader(s), and a project summary before you apply. Details are within the application.
  • It is recommended that students discuss the Thesis Program with a major advisor early in their undergraduate careers, and declare their participation in the Honors or Non-honors Thesis Program as soon as possible.
  • Neuroscience thesis applications are due by no later than the end of the add/drop period one semester prior to thesis submission (i.e. approximately Sep 25 for students graduating at the end of Winter term, and approximately January 25 for students graduating at the end of the Fall term or Summer term). When special circumstances apply, the committee may accept an application beyond the normal due date.
  • Even if you participated in the freshman and sophomore Honors Program, you must still specifically apply and be approved to declare honors.
  • Students who did not participate in the freshman and sophomore Honors Program are eligible to declare an honors major or participate in the non-honors program and are encouraged to apply.

Preparing and Submitting Your Thesis (Senior Year)

  • The thesis is due on December 1, April 1, or August 1 for submission in fall, winter, or summer term respectively. If the 1st falls on a weekend, the thesis will be due on the following Monday.
  • Prepare your thesis according to the guidelines in the document “Formatting Instructions for a Neuroscience Honors Thesis Revised October 2018. There are examples of honors theses available to look at in the UPiN Office (1140 Undergraduate Science Building) during regular business hours. If your mentor or a reader requests a hardcopy, please give it to them in a report cover (there is no need to get it bound).
  • The thesis will be submitted through the form in the quick links below. The online system will send a copy of your thesis and a link to the evaluation forms to your listed evaluators. Plan ahead as the Mentor Evaluation must be completed before submitting your thesis.
  • You must present the research results in a public forum: a poster session, departmental seminar, or a formal presentation in a lab meeting involving mutiple labs.
    • Note that the UPiN/Biology offices organize a poster presentation each April and all honors students are invited to participate. This will fulfill the presentation requirement.
    • The Psychology department also offers a poster presentation that is also acceptable.
    • The mentor will declare in the thesis evaluation when and where the student has fulfilled the public presentation requirement.
    • Students must fulfill the public presentation requirement by the last day of the term they wish to graduate.
    • Please note: Students who have participated in UROP and have presented their work in a public forum have not met the oral presentation requirement for honors.

After Submitting Your Thesis (Graduation)

  • Readers of honors theses are expected to file their reports within 10 days after the thesis is submitted.
    • The report of the mentor will elaborate on the role the student played in the design, execution, and interpretation of the experiments reported in the thesis, and point out the role that others in the lab played.
    • The reports of all readers will address the quality of the science reported in the thesis, as well as the quality of the written presentation.
    • Based on the material presented in the honors thesis and the mentor’s pre-evaluation information, the readers of the thesis will recommend a rating of No Honors, Honors, High Honors, or Highest Honors.
  • The Honors Committee will meet approximately two weeks after the due date of the theses to review the recommendations of the readers and decide on the appropriate level of honors. The Committee will attempt to maintain uniform standards for honors and is not constrained by the level of honors recommended by the readers. The Honors Committee may decide to table discussion and request the student to revise the thesis if it believes that a revised version might merit a higher rating.
  • Students will be notified by email of the level of the honors earned. It is unlikely that students will know their level of honors before the end of the term or graduation ceremony.
    • Students have the option of participating in the Honors Program graduation ceremony, but they will probably not know what (if any) level of honors they have received before the ceremony.
    • The honors level will be noted on the official diploma and transcript.

Timeline Overview

Sophomore or Junior Year: Identify research project and mentor, plan project timeline
Junior Year: Apply and conduct research with mentor
Senior Year: Continue research, complete thesis, present in public forum

Neuroscience thesis program applications are due by no later than the end of the add/drop period one semester prior to thesis submission

March 1, November 1, or July 1 in Term you Plan to Graduate: Late Application Deadline (Absolute Deadline to Apply)
1st of the Month you Plan to Graduate (April 1, December 1, August 1): Thesis Due Date

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