The Honors Advising Process
The Honors Program requires students to attend midterm honors advising sessions twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. These sessions provide an opportunity to review your standing in the program and select your honors courses for the following semester. Honors advising does not take the place of advising in your major. Ideally, you should see an advisor in your major before you come to honors advising. Participation in honors advising is mandatory to remain in good standing with the program. For information on what you'll need to do to prepare for your advising session, click here.
The honors advising guidelines below for first-year students, sophomores, juniors, and seniors are designed for students who begin the Honors Program as first-semester, first-year students. If you join the program after you have already earned between 15 and 45 hours of college credit, you should plan to complete more than one honors requirement per semester until you get caught up. An honors advisor can help you make a plan. We want all of our students to complete as many of the other honors requirements as possible before beginning their capstone projects.
As you refer to the guidelines, keep in mind that you will need to look ahead a semester. For example, a second semester sophomore should read the guidelines for junior year.
Advising Tips by Year
First-Year Honors Advising Information
The first year is the best time to get to know your options and begin to chart your path through the Honors Program:
1. Make a plan for completing 12 hours of lower division honors coursework during your time at KSU. An honors adviser can help you get started by telling you which general education courses are frequently offered in honors sections. You should also consider your particular interests and abilities. An honors section of Psychology 1101, for example, would provide a good foundation for a psychology major, whereas an honors section of calculus would probably not be appropriate for someone who struggles with math. Build flexibility into your plan whenever possible. Since honors course offerings are limited, there is no guarantee that you can get a particular course or that you can get it exactly when you want it. It’s very important, though, to save enough general education requirements to take in honors sections so that you can complete your 12 required hours of lower division honors coursework.
*Students who come to KSU with a significant number of general education requirements already completed through AP or DEHP credit may not be able to find 12 hours of lower division general education coursework to complete. If you fall into this category, you may substitute additional upper division coursework for the lower division work with approval from an honors adviser.
2. Take at least 6 hours of honors coursework, usually one honors general education course in the fall and one in the spring. It is also possible to take an honors interdisciplinary seminar, special topics course, or one or more colloquia your first year if any are offered that you find particularly appealing.
*Students in the Great Books cohort will have the opportunity to take 2 honors general education courses in the fall and 2 in the spring, as well as an honors colloquium each semester. The fall general education courses are POLS 1101 (American Government in a Global Perspective) and HIST 1100 (Introduction to World History). The spring general education courses are HIST 2112 (U.S. History Since 1877) and ART 1107 (Arts in Society: Visual Arts). Do not take regular sections of U.S. History or Art 1107 (or other courses that would fulfill the same general education requirements) in the fall since they will be part of your program in the spring.
3. Start thinking about the honors capstone. In the first year, you should begin to familiarize yourself with the capstone process. Read about it on the honors website and look at the examples available through links there. Ask questions. Watch for programs about the capstone, and attend one if possible. The first year is also a good time to start learning about research in your field. Find out about the research courses your major offers, learn what the prerequisites are, and work toward being ready to take a research course as soon as possible. Find out, too about research opportunities in your major department. In the sciences, for example, you may be able to work later on in the lab of one of your professors. In other disciplines, too, there may be opportunities for undergraduate research. Use the department’s website and ask questions to learn what research initiatives are in progress and what qualifications you would need to become involved.
4. Save honors work for your portfolio. Remember that the final requirement to graduate as an Honors Scholar is the submission of an honors portfolio. Keep the important work you do for your honors classes and other honors requirements all in one place where you can access it easily to put your portfolio together.
Sophomore Year Honors Advising Information
During your sophomore year, you should evaluate what you’ve done in the Honors Program so far, continue taking honors courses, and complete more planning for the honors work you will do during your junior and senior years.
1. Take stock of what you’ve accomplished in the Honors Program so far. Have you completed at least 6 hours of honors coursework? Is your GPA at 3.25 or above if you’re a STEAM major and at 3.5 or above if you’re a non-STEAM major? If the answer to either of these questions is no, discuss with your adviser what you might do to ensure that you meet these requirements.
2. Take the remaining 6 hours of lower division honors coursework, usually one honors general education course in the fall and one in the spring. This is also a good time to take an honors interdisciplinary seminar, special topics course, or several colloquia. Although we ask you to work at the rate of one honors requirement per semester, there is one semester when you will have to do two to finish in four years without any summer terms. This would be a good year to complete the extra requirement before you get into upper division major work and your capstone.
*Great Books students will be ahead at this point and so do not have to follow the one requirement per semester rule as long as they are ahead. If you’ve completed the Great Books Program, you should consider taking a third colloquium this year to reach a total of three credit hours in the upper division interdisciplinary seminar/special topics category. If you exempted any of the Great Books general education courses through AP credit, you should take additional honors general education courses this year to complete your required 12 hours.
3. Continue developing a plan for honors work in your junior and senior years. Think about whether you want to take a second honors interdisciplinary course or do 6 hours of honors work in your major. For the work in your major (at least 3 hours), start planning what 3000 or 4000 level course you’d like to do contract work in and/or what other options you would like to pursue, such as a second contract, a research assistantship, a teaching assistantship, an internship, or a directed study. Since some of these options have to be set up in advance (by finding an internship or a professor to assist in teaching or research, for example), you should start planning in your sophomore year for the requirements you want to meet in your junior year.
4. Keep thinking about your honors capstone project. As you take more courses in your major, begin to think seriously about possible research topics. Get to know your instructors and what their research interests are. When you’re planning your upper division honors coursework, look for ways that it might lead to a capstone project. Work done for an honors contract could potentially be expanded into a capstone. If chosen carefully, a research assistantship or internship might help you develop a capstone research question.
5. Save honors work for your portfolio. Remember that the final requirement to graduate as an Honors Scholar is the submission of an honors portfolio. Keep the important work you do for your honors classes and other honors requirements all in one place where you can access it easily to put your portfolio together.
JuniorsJunior Year Honors Advising Information
The junior year is a very important one in the Honors Program. As you focus on upper division courses in your major, you can customize upper division honors requirements to match your particular interests and career goals. Ideally, you will put together a capstone proposal this year, and even if you’re not quite ready to create a proposal, you should be taking the first steps in that direction.
1. Take stock of your work in the Honors Program so far. Have you accomplished what you set out to do? Are you in good standing in the program? Do you have a sense of direction for your remaining honors work?
2. Complete at least two honors requirements this year. Finish your upper division honors coursework if possible. Remember that you need a total of 9 credit hours at this level, including both interdisciplinary experience and major experience. You can distribute the work as you choose but must complete 3 hours in one category and 6 hours in the other.
Honors interdisciplinary seminars and special topics courses cover topics from many different majors and can be a good way to get major elective credit if your major adviser approves. Students whose majors do not provide a research methods course should take Honors Interdisciplinary research Methods as it will provide important preparation for the capstone.
Upper division work in the major comes in many different varieties and gives you a great chance to customize your path through the program:
a. Contract work in a non-honors course. This may be the most popular form of upper division honors coursework. To complete a contract, you should meet with the instructor of an upper division (3000 or 4000 level) course in your major at the beginning of the semester to decide what you will do extra to give the course an honors dimension. You may take an existing assignment in the course and make it more challenging, or you may add an additional assignment. The product should be an 8-10 page paper (beyond what is already required for the course) or a project or presentation that represents an equivalent amount of work. You will need to download the contract prospectus form from the honors website, fill it out, and submit it electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will then turn it into a contract that you can pick up, have signed, and return to us.
b. Research assistantship. Many instructors at KSU use student research assistants, and completing a research assistantship can be an excellent way both to learn about research practices in your field and to begin thinking about a capstone project. To count as an honors assistantship, you will need to do more than what a non-honors student would do in this role and should complete a substantial product to submit to us. If you want to receive credit in your major and in honors for this work, your product will need to be something that is not required for credit in your major.
c. Teaching assistantship. Many instructors at KSU also use student teaching assistants, and helping an instructor can be a wonderful way to enhance and solidify your own knowledge of a subject. Again, you will need to do more than what a non-honors student would do in this role and should complete a substantial product to submit to us. If you want to receive credit in your major and in honors for this work, your product will need to be something that is not required for credit in your major.
d. Internship. Hands-on work related to your major may be one of the best possible ways to increase your knowledge and prepare for your future career. Find out about internship possibilities in your major and consider doing one for honors credit. As with all of these honors possibilities, you will need to do more than what a non-honors student would do in this role and should complete a substantial product to submit to us. If you want to receive credit in your major and in honors for this work, your product will need to be something that is not required for credit in your major.
e. Directed study. This may be the most customizable choice of all. To complete a directed study, you will need to find an instructor in your major to supervise it, and the two of you will develop a syllabus, indicating your objectives, reading assignments, and products.
3. Ideally, you should begin your capstone the second semester of your junior year, taking HON 4497 and completing your capstone proposal. If you are not yet far enough into your major to be ready to complete a proposal, you should try to end the year knowing which instructor you would like to work with for your capstone and the general topic you would like to research or the kind of project you would like to complete.
The Honors Program accepts different kinds of capstones for different kinds of majors. For most majors original research projects are appropriate. Fine arts majors may choose to do creative projects that have a foundation in research and include a substantial written component. Nursing students and human services majors have the option to do a service project that they create themselves. It too should be based on research and include a substantial written explanation and description of the project.
The first step to completing the capstone is to have a general research topic or project idea in mind. If you have been thinking about your capstone since your first semesters at KSU, you may already have a good idea of the topic you want to pursue. If you do not have a topic in mind, it’s time to get serious about selecting one. You may want to look through library databases related to your major and read the abstracts of articles listed there to get a sense of current scholarly discussions and learn more about what scholarship in your field looks like. It’s best to know what your research interests are before you select a project supervisor.
When you have a general topic or project direction in mind, you should start looking for a supervisor. Generally, the supervisor should be a full-time tenured or tenure-track professor in your major. Most departmental websites provide information about the research interests of the instructors. If you don’t already know a professor whose research interests match your own, that’s a good place to look to find someone.
4. All the work you do this year to meet your honors requirements may be suitable for your portfolio since it is likely to be work related to your major and career goals. Be sure to keep it with the other honors work you’ve collected so that you can put your portfolio together easily at the end of your senior year.
SeniorsSenior Year Honors Advising Information
During their senior year, honors students should focus on completing their capstone projects. The capstone is meant to be the culminating experience of all the work you’ve done in honors, moving you in the direction of graduate school and/or your career. This is also the year to put together an honors portfolio.
1. Take stock of the work you’ve done for the Honors Program so far. Have you completed all the honors requirements except the capstone? Are you in good standing in the program? If you have any doubts about your ability to finish the program on time or in good standing, talk to an honors adviser about the best way to proceed.
2. If you have not already taken HON 4497, you should take it the first semester of your senior year. If you have already taken it, you can decide whether you want to take HON 4499 during the first semester or wait until your final semester at KSU. In either case, you should continue working on your capstone throughout the year. The capstone project should be something that you work on almost every day once you’ve begun it. Another key to a successful capstone is to keep in close contact with your supervisor. Every time you meet you should schedule your next meeting and determine what you will have done by that time.
When you take HON 4499, you will have access to the capstone deadlines for that semester. In general, a draft of your capstone is due about halfway through the semester. During spring semester, if you want to be considered for the award for best capstone, you must have a complete and reasonably polished draft turned in by the rough draft deadline. Award winners will be recognized at an awards luncheon at the end of the year. This is a special event for graduating Honors Scholars and one that we hope everyone will participate in.
3. The final requirement for the Honors Program is the completion and submission of an honors portfolio. The portfolio is designed to serve as a job search tool. It also helps Honors College administrators in writing recommendations for students and evaluating the program. Instructions for the portfolio can be found on the honors website by clicking on University Honors Program, then Documents and Forms. It is due at the beginning of final exam week.