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What is an Honors Capstone Project?

A capstone project is required to graduate with honors because it integrates a student’s specific knowledge of the discipline with the key skills of an honors education: critical thinking, independent research, interdisciplinary learning, and civic engagement. While most undergraduates at USU gain some experience in these four skills, honors students can consistently integrate them and are therefore uniquely qualified as USU’s most dynamic citizen scholars. Honors students always question ideas, take responsibility for their own learning, consider the relationships between radically different ideas, and seek ways to make the world a better place. The capstone project is the culmination of an honors undergraduate education because it demonstrates that honors students can both work collaboratively with their mentors and manage a long-term independent project. Honors students leave USU as budding experts in their disciplines and as leaders in and outside of their fields, qualities that distinguish them from their peers when they apply for jobs, graduate programs, fellowships, or internships.

The topics of honors capstone projects vary according to each student’s major and interests. Every discipline requires students to engage in research, defined as the search for knowledge and the communication of that knowledge to others. In their capstone projects, honors students discover knowledge through a range of discipline-appropriate activities and share that knowledge in a variety of different ways (see Capstone Requirements for more details). 

All honors capstone projects offer students the opportunity to work closely with professors who share their interests. These professional relationships can shape the student’s future in fundamental ways: capstone mentors can provide detailed recommendation letters, reliable advice about how to structure and complete a project, connections to other professionals in the field, and insight into how to pursue professional goals. These faculty mentors guide the professional development of honors students and thus help to build the future of their own fields in tangible ways.

Download the full Honors Capstone Handbook here.