“The small class sizes and support that I've received from my professors has allowed me to grow and experiment with different ideas. I feel like this type of hands-on environment has helped me succeed. ”
Scott Fersht '11
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Honors Scholar Program
The Honors Scholar Program is a path of multidisciplinary research open by invitation to sophomores and first semester juniors whose overall grade point average is 3.3 and higher. Special admission consideration is given to students who have participated in First Year Honors. The Honors Scholar Program is a process of four three-credit seminars that culminates in the writing and public presentation of an Honors Thesis. Honors Scholars are graduated "With Distinction in the Honors Scholar Program" announced at commencement ceremonies and inscribed on their diplomas. Honors Scholar seminars meet in fully equipped modern seminar rooms especially conducive to a high level of interpersonal dialog.
The Honors Scholar Sequence of Courses
Honors Scholar Seminar is a three-credit course that focuses on developing analytic and integrative thinking, on understanding oneself as a learner and researcher, and on presenting cogent, persuasive perspectives in writing. The Scholars learning process is one of exchanging ideas in order to advance—we call it "enrich"—the development of an idea from an under-developed notion to a full-fledged perspective.
The seminar challenges students to author a well-constructed and persuasive essay each week in the first ten weeks of the course; each essay is immediately (and gently) commented upon by the two professors who are team-teaching the course. The purpose of this proliferation of writing is to prepare a strong cognitive and literary foundation for writing an exemplary thesis. The last weeks of the Seminar are dedicated to communal brainstorming on possible topics for the thesis, to creating an initial structure for subsequent research, and to writing a self-evaluation of one's personal progress in the semester.
Honors Scholar Research I is a three-credit course dedicated to developing a broad understanding of perspectives on research, to developing advanced computer navigation skills by which to glean information efficiently and effectively from electronic sources, to mastering the resources of the library, and to organizing the collected information in order to write solid first drafts of the Review of Literature section of the thesis.
This extensive process is supported by the engagement of a faculty thesis advisor and the library faculty, both of whom bring expertise to the thesis investigation. The Scholars thesis process is adaptable, according to the research needs of the thesis topic, and is open to artistic as well as qualitative and quantitative investigations.
Honors Scholar Research II is a three-credit course that focuses on gathering original information by means of designing, executing, and interpreting a data collecting instrument in a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods process. The outcome of Research II is the completion of a solid first draft of the Methodology and Findings sections of the thesis.
The Honors Scholar Thesis Seminar is the final three-credit course during which the various drafts of the thesis are expanded where appropriate, very carefully edited and coalesced into a cogent whole, when the Introduction is written to frame the study, when the Discussion and Commentary section is designed and written, and when a final bibliography is polished.
All these sections are written to conform to an Honors Scholars Thesis Rubric that specifies qualities that every thesis should exhibit. During the last month of the semester, each thesis author makes a public presentation of the thesis findings, and submits a reflective evaluation of their personal growth experiences in the Program.
Each student chooses the topic for the Honors thesis individually, according to a set of criteria. The most significant criterion is that the writer have a strong interest in the topic—some call it a passionate interest—to serve as a reliable motivator and to intensify the personal meaning. Many students select a topic from within their major or from a course where they encountered a subject of particular interest, though some students come to Scholars with a topic that they are eager to investigate in depth. Selection of the topic is given careful consideration in the initial seminar and in Research I.
More than two hundred Honors thesis have been written by Honors Scholars since 1988, when the first Honors program began.
Assessment standards for each of the four courses in the Honors Scholar sequence may be perused in the section entitled Course Schema (PDF). Rubrics such as the Honors Writing Rubric, the Honors Thesis Rubric, and the Thesis Progress Rubric guide students throughout the research process.
We find many reasons for celebrations during every academic year. An Honors Committee is being formed this year to choose events in Boston to attend and to plan a monthly pizza party. And when the last thesis presentation has been delivered, the seniors slide into a stretch limo and go to dinner at one of Boston's fine restaurants!
For more information, please feel free to contact Dr. Ronald H. Warners, Honors Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-333-2298.