Interdepartmental Programs—Honors

Graduation with Honors

As is the case of students who pursue degrees within traditional departments, it is possible for those with Individualized Interdepartmental majors to receive their degrees with honors. To be awarded a degree with honors is the College's way of acknowledging the achievements of truly outstanding students in each year's graduating class.

Criteria for Honors

The awarding of honors is determined by three criteria:

  1. HONORS COURSEWORK: Successful completion of twelve credits of honors coursework. Specifically, honors students complete two 4-credit independent study courses in the senior year, one devoted to honors research in the fall (XXX 391 Senior Project), and another devoted to thesis writing in the spring (XXX 393 Honors Thesis). In addition, students complete one 4-credit, advanced- level course or seminar. With input from the student and the thesis adviser, this course will be designated by the Committee on Individualized Interdepartmental Programs (CIIP). All three courses may count toward the student's major.  Note that Independent Study forms must be submitted to the College Center for Advising Services by the third week of each semester.
  2. THE SENIOR THESIS: The senior thesis is a focused and sustained scholarly project that offers a substantial critical analysis of a corpus of original research. The research may have begun in the student’s coursework, but it will be significantly enriched in breadth and depth during the first semester of independent study outlined above. The thesis is not a paper and not an essay; it offers an original perspective, both critical and theoretical, on a well-defined topic. Researchers will begin with a hypothesis about the material, research it exhaustively, and write up their findings in a thesis that, ideally, could be publishable. To graduate with honors, students must write theses that are original, critical, and analytical; those theses must engage with existing research in the field, and they must be carefully argued and well written. Because writing a thesis involves incorporating advisors’ comments along the way, students will be in continued contact with both readers and carefully consider and integrate their suggestions. Theses will be presented in a format that is appropriate for the discipline.  Most honors theses are about 50 pages in length. Helpful Resources
  3. ORAL DEFENSE OF THE THESIS: The student presents and defends the thesis before the professors who read and evaluated the thesis. The oral defense is open to the UR public, and the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs will assist in publicizing the defense.  The student is to notify the Center one week in advance of the date of the Defense.
  4. FINAL APPROVAL FROM THE COMMITTEE: The Faculty of the CIIP reviews recommendations from the student’s advisors and arrives at a decision regarding the award of the degree with honors.

Applying for Honors

A degree with honors is awarded to students who specifically pursue it and arrange to complete all of the requirements. Students plan carefully in order to meet these requirements according to the specified time frame. The staff and faculty involved in the Interdepartmental Majors program can assist students in the planning process, but students should understand that it is their responsibility to ensure that each of the requirements is met on time.

Schedule for the Completion of Honors Requirements

By May of the junior year (but in any case no later than September 10 of the senior year): Find a faculty member willing to serve as your adviser (first reader) on the proposed topic. The thesis adviser must have expertise in the topic area of the proposed thesis and must be a full-time member of the teaching faculty.

BY OCTOBER 1: Prepare a three- to five-page prospectus of your thesis project, plus an initial bibliography.  Have your adviser sign it to indicate his or her endorsement. Submit the prospectus to the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs (Dewey Hall 2-161) by October 1. The Faculty Committee will then evaluate your application and may approve it, disapprove it or approve it subject to specific modifications or recommendations.

If your prospectus is approved, the Committee will select a second reader for your thesis. Both readers will eventually be asked to evaluate the thesis and make recommendations regarding honors after the oral defense.

JANUARY DEADLINE: The revised 7 - 10-page prospectus with signatures of both readers is due in Dewey 2-161 by Friday of the first week of classes in the spring semester. The bibliography should contain no fewer than 15 entries.

January–April: Complete the research and writing of the thesis under the supervision of both readers. Your readers should have ample opportunity to see early drafts of your thesis so that their suggestions can be incorporated in the final version, which is the document on which recommendations for honors will be based. Copies of the final thesis should be given to both readers and a copy registered in the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs.

APRIL/MAY: The final draft of the thesis must be registered no later than two Fridays before commencement if you plan to graduate at the end of the spring semester.

  • Schedule an oral defense of your thesis with your two readers and inform the staff in the Center when and where it will be held. They will send a formal notice of the defense to your two readers, who, after the defense, will send a recommendation to the CIIP regarding the awarding of honors. The staff of the CSAIP will help publicize the defense.
  • Bring one copy of your thesis to the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs. Also send an electronic copy, which will be forwarded to the Committee.

MAY DEADLINE: The recommendations of the readers must be received in Dewey 2-161 no later than one Friday before commencement if you plan to graduate at the end of the spring semester.

  • The last step is the responsibility of the Committee.  The CIIP will make a decision concerning honors. It will consider your thesis and the recommendations of the two readers to determine whether honors should be awarded. You will be contacted by the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs prior to graduation and informed of the Committee's action.