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The Senior Project

Honors Project Overview


All University Honors Students must complete a Senior Project. It can be completed through either the department Honors Program in your discipline, interdisciplinary, or through an independent study in the University Honors Program. The Senior Project may take various forms depending on your discipline. As you develop your project, you should seek out a mentor in your discipline who can advise and support you as you undertake the work. The mentor must be a full-time faculty member who possesses expertise in the subject who is willing and able to provide criticism and direction. If you believe a mentor who does not fit this description is important, discuss your reasons with the program Director. The mentor will be expected to evaluate the final project.

Types of Projects

Whatever form the project takes, it should be a demanding exercise (4 units = roughly 150 clock hours of work) and the resulting presentation should demonstrate in depth skill and understanding of the topic you choose. As you begin to explore possibilities, you should think in terms of finding an approach, idea, or project that excites you and will provide a stimulating research experience. If it isn’t exciting, then it will likely not hold your interest. It is never too early to begin exploring possibilities. Your project should be attendant to the conventions of written and oral presentation that are particular to the discipline. Your mentor can be helpful there, too, but HON 4100, 4200, and 4500 will begin to equip you to identify these conventions for yourself.

You may also need to consider issues of funding. The Honors Program does not have a budget to support Honors Projects. If your project requires funds for materials, research travel, or any other potential expenses, you will need to locate funds. The program staff are happy to suggest potential sources, but you may begin by examining whether professional and disciplinary associations have grant monies for undergraduate research. The National Science Foundation, for example, may have small grants, but you would need to apply for funds, which can be a lengthy process

If you are conducting research that involves human subjects, you will also need to go through the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process, which requires completion of forms. IRB ensures that research with human subjects is conducted ethically and can be a time-consuming process, so plan accordingly.

Junior Year Activities

In the junior year, the University Honors Program will begin to prepare you to initiate their project. At the Junior Class Retreat, during the winter intersession, you will be instructed in the steps necessary to undertake the project. Topics of the retreat will include:

  • Conceptualizing a project idea
  • Identifying and approaching a faculty mentor
  • Understanding the project requirements
  • Defining disciplinary conventions

In your junior year, you will plan your project in the spring semester. That planning will culminate in the submission of a project proposal. The proposal form can be located at this link: Proposal Form. The proposal is due by the end of week 15 of the spring semester. You should work with your faculty mentor as your complete the proposal ask your faculty mentor to review it before submission to the Honors Program Director.

Senior Year Activities

In the senior year, you will work on and complete your project. You do so by enrolling in an independent study or honors course in your major. You should follow the guidance of the department in which your are working regarding what course is appropriate. Work on the project may require activity throughout the senior year, even though the independent study or honors course is for a single semester.

You are also required to enroll in two 1-unit workshops, taking one in the fall semester and the other in the spring semester. In the fall semester, you will learn about research and inquiry in a workshop that promotes awareness of the assumptions and conventions that define your project and methodologies. In the spring semester, you will learn about the various ways in which research is presented (in both oral and written forms) and will identify the conventions that define presentations in your particular discipline. 

You are required to complete two components of the project:

  • a written document that meets the conventions of the particular discipline and that is due by the end of week 15 in the spring semester;
  • an oral or poster presentation as appropriate to the discipline, which can be presented at Meeting of the Minds, CSUSB's student research symposium, or any other conference.

Your faculty mentor should email the Honors Program Director to communicate that they approve your final project when you submit it to the Director.