Your Last Two Years: University Honors
Students who graduate with University Honors will have completed an Honors capstone as a part of their requirements for Honors graduation. University Honors provides students with a unique opportunity to develop their skills and prepare to excel in life after graduation. The requirements for this tier were developed for students who are intending to persist in Honors until graduation. Honors also took care to have requirements that would allow transfer students and "late bloomers" to seek an Honors graduation. At the heart of this Honors track is the Capstone requirement. Students are required to complete a capstone (a thesis or a project) that contributes to knowledge, or our understanding, in some fashion. The Capstone project itself involves a process where immense critical thinking, need for academic integrity, quality research skills, analytic thinking/writing skills appropriate to the project and the discipline(s) involved. The goal is to give the student the experience of developing a novel scholarly or academic perspective and articulate that perspective to others through his/her thesis. Students who complete these courses may submit their work for professional publication, or may seek to develop their project further following graduation. Completion of these courses is a requirement for students seeking to complete Capstone Honors and graduate with university honors. This project will prepare students for graduate and professional level critical thinking and analytical writing.
Why should I do a Capstone?
Students who graduate with University Honors enjoy benefits unparalleled in the University. From preparation to support to graduation and beyond, University Honors students are provided with the tools and skills to succeed. Students who complete a Capstone project have significantly (statistically speaking) better job placement, graduate school acceptance, and graduate school financial support. Some projects require students to travel in order to gather the information they need. To that end, the Honors Program has supported three students during their internships in Hawaii, New York City, and London! Students design their own project, with the supervision and support of faculty members of the student's choosing. From conception to completion the student is able to decide what he/she will learn. In the words of the great Winston Churchill, "I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught."
This experience is exclusively available for Honors students to demonstrate the skills vital to employers in a century of rapid and perpetual change: the ability to think critically, learn independently, and apply that knowledge easily.
Consolidating the Argument: the Benefits of an Honors Capstone
- The Best Preparation - whether you are preparing to go to graduate school or enter the professional world the Capstone gives you a needed opportunity to put your skills and your competence on display. A good GPA and a long list of activities is often unconvincing to prospective employers or professors--they are interested in seeing that you really have the skills to succeed. At GU, the Honors Capstone is the best way to convincingly demonstrate that.
- Close Relationships with Faculty - enjoy the benefits of unparalleled mentoring from the University's finest faculty and staff.
- Self - Directed Learning - reap the benefits of studying what is most suitable to you, not what someone says to study. Whether it's creative writing, or traveling, or conducting experimental research, do what's right for you.
- Employment/Graduate Opportunities - show 'em you are among the best. Commit yourself to achieving this high standard. You'll have a project to show off to your future employers and grad schools…AND the skills they're looking for.
- Research Skills - whether you're writing a story, conducting an experiment, climbing the corporate ladder, or serving in Congress, knowing how to find relevant information is essential. This is your chance to master that.
- Graduation Day - you and your family will have breakfast with the Provost, your closest faculty friends, and program administrators. Then you'll go off to graduation in your Royal Blue gown. You'll be the first to march across the stage, and the Provost-who has read your work-will do more than simply recite your name, he'll discuss your work with the audience.
But, But, But… I'm not sure I can…
Students who are considering Capstone encounter some fears. It's a new experience with high standards and a lot at stake. The Honors Program makes sure that students who embark on this process are prepared. We'll support you through the process. All you need to do is bring the determination to succeed. Honors provides a full time Capstone Coordinator to focus on Capstone students, offering support, teaching the courses, and coordinating with the student's faculty advisers. The Capstone Coordinator must give his permission for you to enroll in his course. He'll talk with you and review your transcript. If he signs off, you're ready.
These are the most common student fears and our responses:
- The workload will be too much! No it's not. Take it from your predecessors. Certainly it's intense--that's how you'll learn the most--but it's far from too much. It's a matter of two things: creating a doable project and managing your time well. The first Capstone course (HON 487) focuses on both of these things.
- I want a social life. Manage your time well and you'll be able to excel in both your academic and personal lives. Balancing these is an essential skill for when you're a professional.
- Is it worth it? Yes. Completing the Honors Capstone is a huge asset when applying to graduate programs. Even if you are not necessarily applying for a graduate program immediately after graduation, this project will open doors for you in the future that service or involvement will not.
- I don't have an idea… That's part of the reason for the faculty members and the Capstone Coordinator. We'll work with you to identify your interests, your goals, and help you orient that to your field of research. We'll work together to come up with a project you want to do.
- Is it compatible with my major? Short answer, yes. We'll help you navigate the requirements of Honors and your major. We've built the system so you have plenty of opportunities to kill two birds with one stone. You can take some of your major courses for Honors credit as well. Your project can count as both your major and Honors capstones.
To graduate with University Honors students will successfully complete (a grade of 'B' or better) three upper-level Honors courses (9 credits) that may include an interdisciplinary seminar, Honors Options in major courses, cross-listed graduate courses, Consortium courses, or independent studies. Students may begin taking these upper-level courses in their sophomore year. Students must also successfully complete an Honors Capstone project they will develop during their last 3 semesters as a student. Starting in the spring semester of their junior year, students will begin their Capstone experience by enrolling in HON 487. Their experience will culminate in the presentation and completion of their project during the spring semester of their senior year.
To graduate with University Honors, students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.4 and a grade of B or better in the following courses:
- Three upper-level Honors courses (9 credits) chosen from either upper-level interdisciplinary seminars, Honors Options in major courses, cross-listed graduate courses, Consortium courses, or independent study courses.
- HON 487 (3 credits) (during spring of junior year)
- HON 488 (1 credit) (during fall of senior year)
- HON 489 (2 credits) (during spring of senior year)
Total: 15 credits.
Note: Students graduating with University Honors will also be expected to give a presentation to the campus community on their Capstone project. Those students who have met the requirements will also have "University Honors" noted on their transcripts as well as share breakfast on the morning of commencement with their committees, their families, the Honors staff, and the Provost and CASS Dean; receive a plaque, special regalia and an Honors cord; see their capstone titles in the program; and lead the procession of undergraduates.