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Honors Opportunities and Benefits
- Working one-on-one on independent research with O’Neill faculty members
- Networking with a community of high-achieving O’Neill student peers and friends
- Opportunities for funding for academic travel, research, or internships
- Competitive advantage for student engagement opportunities, including the Washington Leadership Program and the Indiana Leadership Program
- Reduced requirements for applications to O’Neill’s #1 ranked masters programs
- Graduating with a O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs honors notation on your undergraduate transcript and diploma
Honors Program Requirements
Completing the Honors Program
a. Overview of Requirements
Prior to successfully completing the O’Neill Honors Program, students engage in a variety of scholarly opportunities that not only prepare them for the type of professional research and writing that is needed in all careers, but also for graduate school. Honors Program Students also benefit from regular attendance at Honors Program activities and events, which help create a community of engaged students here at the O’Neill School.
To complete the O’Neill Honors Program and graduate with honors notation on your transcript, students:
- Complete the two-semester Honors Thesis Workshop, during which time you will write an Honors Thesis. The Workshop consists of two professor-taught courses, V491 Honors Research in Public & Environmental Affairs and V499 Honors Thesis, and it focuses on developing student research, writing, and presentation skills. Although the courses are taught by individual faculty, students also work one-on-one with a member of the O’Neill faculty who serves as their thesis mentor.
- Submit the Honors Thesis to O’Neill.
- Present research at a designated O’Neill research symposium or conference.
- Participate in a total of at least eight honors activities or events (not including the Workshop courses or any information and orientation sessions) before graduation. We recommend participating in two events per semester to meet this requirement.
b. Required Activities and Events
Students will have the opportunity to engage in co-curricular activities and events through O’Neill and other academic units across campus. Each activity or event will help students better succeed in their research, writing or presentations, or they will otherwise help students with professional development and career planning. During or following many of the activities or events, students have the opportunity to engage in reflection and discussion with peers, faculty, or presenters to get the most out of the event.
Students are required to attend a total of at least eight activities. We recommend participating in two events per semester to meet this requirement.
Students will be given a list of events at the start of each semester, and attendance will be taken. Additional activities and events will also be announced as they arise.
c. Course Requirements: The Honors Workshop
The centerpiece of the Honors Program is an intensive Honors Workshop. Lasting two semesters, the Workshop delivers rigorous instruction in how to properly design and implement research. The first course, V491 Honors Research in Public & Environmental Affairs, builds knowledge of how to conduct research. In it, students develop their research question, figure out how they plan to answer the question, and identify their faculty mentor. In the second course, V499 Honors Thesis, students develop academic writing and professional presentation skills while working to complete the thesis.
The Workshop should be taken in consecutive (meaning back-to-back) semesters, ideally at the end of a student’s undergraduate career.
Through these two courses of the Honors Workshop, students also have the opportunity to build a one-on-one relationship with a faculty member. Through this unique mentorship, a faculty member will advise students on his or her thesis subject matter from start to finish. Students should work to develop a relationship with a faculty member as early as possible in their academic career in order to develop this mentoring relationship.
Student in some of the O’Neill majors may count V491 Honors Research in Public & Environmental Affairs toward their major, and almost all students may count the thesis-writing course, V499 Honors Thesis, toward their O’Neill major, provided that the topic of the thesis is relevant to the major.
For V499 Honors Thesis to count toward a student’s major, the topic must be consistent with: 1) the topics of the major’s required courses; or 2) the topics of the major’s other component sections. Students should consult their AAR or an academic advisor to determine where V499 appears in their major. Students then work with the Honors Program director, in consultation with the V491 Honors Research in Public & Environmental Affairs instructor and their faculty mentor to ensure that the thesis topic is consistent with the major. In some cases, the Honors Program director may also consult with O’Neill’s major lead faculty mentor responsible for a major and Undergraduate Program Office, as appropriate.
d. Honors Thesis
The honors thesis is a crucial part of the O’Neill Honors Program. It is intended to be a high-quality document of mutual interest to the student and to the thesis advisor, who must be a member of the O’Neill faculty. Completed theses are electronically published and accessible to students via login at the Current Students portal. Theses are generally the length of an academic article related to the field in which they are written, or roughly 8,000 to 12,000 words.
e. Presentation Requirements
O’Neill Honors Program participants must formally present their completed theses at a symposium held by O’Neill at the end of each semester. This event is open to family, friends, peers and faculty.
As members of a mutually supportive intellectual community, and in order to benefit from an important scholarly function of the O’Neill Honors Program, students are expected to attend their peers’ thesis presentations.
Honors Thesis and Presentation
As an O’Neill Honors student, you will complete and present an undergraduate honors thesis—it’s a crucial component of the Honors Program. Your 25-35 page thesis represents the culmination of an in-depth research project focused on a specific topic or theme.
Once you’ve completed your forms, turn them in to the Undergraduate Programs Office.