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The Honors Capstone Committee

Every honors student’s capstone committee consists at a minimum of two faculty members: the student’s primary faculty mentor and the student’s Departmental Faculty Honors Advisor (or other designated faculty member). The University Honors Program Director also reads each final capstone project to ensure consistency across the USU Honors Program as a whole.

Students should choose their faculty mentors carefully. Mentoring an honors capstone project is a great deal of work. While this kind of work is a rewarding part of a faculty member’s job, some outstanding faculty are already over-committed, working with many graduate and/or undergraduate students outside of their regular teaching commitments. The best way to secure a faculty mentor is to build several close working relationships with faculty over time. Students can demonstrate their ability in classes, research projects, contract work, and departmental clubs or organizations that collaborate with faculty. Faculty are much more likely to agree to mentor the capstone project of a student who has proven to be bright, organized, dependable, curious, and engaged with the field.

Please carefully review in the pages that follow the responsibilities of the student, the faculty mentor, the committee member(s), and the University Honors Program. In general, students are responsible for developing a work plan and meeting that plan’s deadlines, performing the plan’s proposed research, and composing/revising/formatting the written portion of their projects as outlined in the plan and according to University Honors Program guidelines. In turn, the faculty mentor is responsible for guiding the student in the creation of the work plan, mentoring the research and writing processes, and ensuring a high quality of work within the discipline. The Departmental Faculty Honors Advisor or other committee member(s) makes sure that the student is aware of and meeting honors requirements and disciplinary standards. The University Honors Program supports students and faculty and ensures that all honors capstone projects meet minimum program standards and deadlines and thus merit the award of the student’s final capstone honors points.

Courses

  • Enroll in HONR 3900, a one-credit course that involves reading past capstone projects and proposals, deciding on a topic, securing a faculty mentor, finalizing committee membership, and submitting a complete and polished honors capstone proposal with all signatures.
  • Enroll in HONR 4900 or another approved honors capstone course. Try to complete any required non-honors capstone course in the major before taking the honors capstone course.
  • Schedule a graduation audit with the honors advisor by the third week of the term before graduation to tally honors points and ensure that student is on track to graduate with honors.

 Proposal

  • Working with faculty mentor, complete an honors capstone proposal following the required format, including a basic list of deadlines and a short annotated bibliography or literature review. Submit proposal to committee member(s) and revise to earn committee approval.
  • Submit proposal by the end of HONR 3900; resubmission (if necessary) and final approval from Honors must occur by the second week of classes in term before graduation (fall or summer).
  • In rare cases, if a project changes in fundamental ways, students may need to submit and secure approval for a new proposal, at the discretion of the faculty mentor. No major project changes may be made after the second week of classes in the student’s final term.

Work Plan

  • Complete and submit a detailed work plan, using the proposal as a starting point; include a list of all deadlines for research, submission of drafts, updates to committee members, regular (usually at least twice monthly) mentor meetings, and public presentation time/place.
  • Plan must include key dates, particularly submission of final draft to committee (one week before the last day of classes), public presentation/defense (by the last day of classes), and final deadline to Honors (one week after the last day of classes).
  • Agree upon work plan with mentor and other committee member(s); submit plan to Honors by the end of the second week of classes in the term before graduation.

 Professionalism and Drafting

  • Follow the work plan in a timely and professional manner.
  • Apply for appropriate research or travel funding to support the project (e.g., Honors Research and/or Study Abroad Funds, URCO grants, USUSA support, departmental or college funding).
  • Discuss any proposed changes to work plan or deadlines with faculty mentor well in advance of those deadlines or risk jeopardizing honors graduation.
  • Submit to mentor all required drafts of the project and revise as instructed.
  • Proofread and edit carefully. The Honors Writing Tutor(s) can help with this work—start early.
  • Submit a final draft to the committee one week before last day of classes. Revise as instructed.

Public Presentation

  • Arrange for public presentation of the project. The mentor and Honors office can help, but it is the student’s responsibility to decide on the venue and make all arrangements. Public presentation or defense must be completed and documented by the last day of classes in student’s graduation term.

Final Product

Courses

  • Work with student enrolled in HONR 3900 to finalize committee membership and to draft and polish an honors capstone proposal.
  • Serve as faculty mentor and/or instructor of record for HONR 4900 or other approved honors capstone course. If the student is required to complete a standard capstone course in the major, help articulate how honors project will substantially add to and extend the work done in that course.

 Proposal

  • Mentor student in shaping capstone idea and writing the honors capstone proposal. Ensure that student follows proposal format, including a basic list of deadlines and a brief annotated bibliography or literature review. The proposal should outline a high quality project in the discipline.
  • Remind student about proposal deadlines: must submit to Honors by end of HONR 3900 and secure Honors approval by the second week of classes in the term before graduation (fall or summer).
  • In rare cases, if project changes in fundamental ways, students may need to submit and secure approval for a new proposal, at the discretion of the faculty mentor. No major project changes may be made after the second week of classes in the student’s final term.

Work Plan

  • As early as possible, work closely with student to create a detailed work plan, using the proposal as a starting point; include specific deadlines for research milestones, writing and draft submission, reports to committee members, regular (usually at least twice monthly) meetings with mentor, and time/venue for public presentation.
  • Ensure that work plan includes all key dates, particularly submission of mentor-approved final draft to committee (one week before the last day of classes), public presentation/defense (completed by the last day of classes), and final deadline to Honors (one week after the last day of classes).
  • Prompt student to get approval for work plan from other faculty committee member(s) and then to submit the plan to Honors by the end of the second week of classes in the term before graduation (fall or summer).

Project Oversight

  • Communicate with student about the professional importance of following the work plan.
  • Encourage student to apply for research or travel funding to support the project (e.g., Honors Research and/or Study Abroad Funds, URCO grants, USUSA support, departmental or college funding).
  • Students may not change deadlines without securing faculty mentor approval well before the deadline they propose to change. If students miss two deadlines or ask for frequent, disruptive changes to the work plan, faculty mentors should notify the University Honors Program office immediately.
  • Require several drafts of the project and give the student prompt, detailed feedback. Final mentor-approved draft is due to committee no later than one week before the last day of classes in final term.

Public Presentation

  • Discuss with student possible venues for public presentation and encourage student to apply as appropriate for honors, university, and departmental travel funding. Public presentation or defense must be completed and documented by the last day of classes in the student’s graduation term. Faculty mentor must sign the Capstone Oral Presentation Verification form with the cover page of the final capstone product (due one week after last day of classes).

Final Product

  • Ensure that the student has made all of the committee’s required revisions and that the final product represents high quality honors work in the discipline. Insist that student proofread and edit.
  • Communicate with student about final deadlines and requirements for the project: the student must submit carefully proofread and formatted final product with all necessary forms to Honors no later than one week after the last day of classes in the term of graduation. Sign only once read/approved.

Departmental Honors Faculty Advisors typically serve as the second committee member on each honors capstone committee in their home departments. Departments with many graduates may choose to share this responsibility. While it is advisable to choose a committee member with detailed knowledge of the University Honors Program, students and their mentors are free to decide how best to shape the committee, and they may certainly choose members with particular expertise in the discipline. Committees may consist of more than two faculty members, depending on the needs of the student and project. The responsibilities of these committee members include:

Courses

  • Even DHAs who do not serve on the committee are responsible for meeting with students enrolled in HONR 3900 and helping them to identify suitable faculty mentors, finalize committee membership, and review capstone project requirements on the University Honors Program website.
  • Students usually enroll in either HONR 4900 or another departmental honors capstone course for honors capstone credit; any substitution requires the entire committee’s approval.

Proposal

  • Read proposal promptly once mentor and student complete it; indicate approval by signing, or offer feedback and then sign once changes are made.
  • Support student in meeting proposal deadlines: students must submit to Honors by end of HONR 3900 and secure Honors approval by end of second week in term before graduation (fall or summer).
  • In rare cases, if project changes in fundamental ways, students may need to submit and secure approval for a new proposal, at the discretion of the faculty mentor. No major project changes may be made after the second week of the student’s final term.

Work Plan

  • Verify that work plan includes a timeline for regular updates to committee members on project progress, as well as all key dates, particularly submission of mentor-approved final draft to committee (one week before the last day of classes), public presentation/defense (by the last day of classes), and final deadline to Honors (one week after the last day of classes).
  • Suggest changes and/or approve work plan before the deadline for submitting the work plan to Honors (the end of the second week of classes in the term before graduation).
  • Committee members may choose to require students to submit a draft or drafts to them; please build due dates into the work plan.

 Project Oversight

  • Be willing to meet with student as requested or as indicated in work plan. Committee members are not responsible for initiating meetings.
  • If committee member has asked for drafts, he or she is responsible for giving the student prompt, detailed feedback, as indicated in the work plan.
  • Expect to receive the mentor-approved final draft of the project one week before last day of classes.

Public Presentation

  • Discuss with student possible venues for public presentation and encourage student to apply as appropriate for honors, university, and departmental travel funding. Public presentation or defense must be completed and documented by the last day of classes in the student’s graduation term.

Final Product

  • Ensure that student has made all of the committee’s revisions and that the final product represents high quality honors work in the discipline. Insist that student proofread and edit.
  • Communicate with student about deadlines and requirements for final product, which must be proofread, formatted, and submitted to Honors with all forms one week after the last day of classes. Sign only once read/approved.

The Honors Program Director does not actively participate in mentoring each project but serves instead to ensure that the project meets University Honors Program standards. Honors Program responsibilities include:

Courses

  • Each term, the University Honors Program offers HONR 3900, a one-credit, pass/fail course that requires students to read past capstone projects and proposals, decide on a topic, secure a faculty mentor, finalize committee membership, and submit a complete, polished, signed honors capstone proposal.
  • Students usually enroll in either HONR 4900 or another approved honors capstone course for honors capstone project credit; advise students to complete any required non-honors capstone course in the major before enrolling for honors capstone credit.
  • The Honors Program is available for individual consultations at any time to answer the questions of capstone mentors and committee members.

Proposal

  • The Director gives final approval on the honors capstone project proposal; all proposals must be submitted by the end of HONR 3900 and then resubmitted, if necessary, to earn final approval by end of second week in term before graduation (fall or summer).

Work Plan

  • The Honors Program archives work plans and shares them with students and faculty.
  • Honors staff members ensure that work plans are submitted on time (the end of the second week of classes in the term before graduation) and notify students and faculty mentors if deadlines are missed.
  • Once work plan has been submitted, the Honors Program verifies that it includes key dates for submission of mentor-approved final draft to the committee (one week before the last day of classes), public presentation or defense (by last day of classes), and submission of the revised final project to Honors (one week after the last day of classes).

Project Oversight

  • The Honors Program and Director provide support, as requested, to students, faculty mentors, and committee members involved in capstone projects.
  • The Honors Program guarantees timely review of applications to the Honors Research and Study Abroad Funds and supports students in applying for other funding.
  • The Honors Program staff members communicate with students about upcoming or missed deadlines.

Public Presentation

  • The Honors Program can assist students in finding appropriate venues for public presentation. Public presentation or defense must be completed and documented by the last day of classes in the student’s graduation term

Final Product

  • The Honors Program Writing Tutor(s) can help students carefully proofread and format the final project. The Honors staff and Director ensure that students submit a high quality project by the deadline (one week after the last day of classes) and include with the project the signed University Honors Capstone Cover Page, the Honors Capstone Evaluation form, documentation of public presentation, and the Electronic Capstone Approval Form
  • The Honors Program Director reads all capstone projects to ensure that all projects meet or exceed program standards and signs the cover page to approve.


Download the full Honors Capstone Handbook here.