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Honors Overview by Major

Honors Program

Click on each major for a description of Honors projects in that field.

 Accounting

 History

 Art - Art History

 Latin American Studies

 Art - Studio Art

 Mathematics

 Biochemistry

 Mathematics - Applied Mathematics

 Biology

 Music

 Business Administration

 Neuroscience and Cognitive Studies

 Chemistry

 Philosophy

 Classical Studies

 Philosophy-Religious Studies

 Communications

 Physics

 Computer Science

 Political Science

 Computer Information Systems

 Psychology

 Economics

 Public Management

 Education

 Religious Studies

 English

 Religious Studies-Sociology/Anthropology

 European Studies

 Sociology/Anthropology

 French

 Spanish

 Geology

 Theatre

 

Accounting: Contact faculty members in Else School of Management directly.

Art - Art History: An honors thesis in art history should have a clear, central argument that is well supported by primary evidence derived from substantial analysis of art works and/or theory. The argument should be set within a theoretical framework, when possible. Theses in art history are usually in the range of 50-75 pages, divided into appropriate sections or chapters. MLA format is the norm in art history, with parenthetical citations (and supplementary footnotes for additional content, if necessary), and a Works Cited section that is at least 2-3 pages. Illustrations should be attached at the back, with references to figure numbers in the text.

Art - Studio: An honors thesis in studio art consists first and foremost of the art work itself, rather than the supporting written thesis. When considering the vast differences in scale, process and concept, it becomes very difficult to make a concise statement about what is a sufficient amount of art work for an honors project. However, using the Lewis Art Gallery as the gauge, an honors student's exhibition should comprise approximately one half of the gallery, with additional works that have been edited out of the show as they have been deemed less successful attempts towards building a cohesive body of work. Honors students are expected to exhibit their work in the Lewis Art Gallery or another appropriate space on campus, and they are also expected to present a gallery talk about their work. Additionally, the student will write a written thesis which has a clear, central argument that is well supported by primary evidence derived from substantial analysis of art works and/or theory. The argument should be set within a theoretical framework, when possible. Theses in studio art should be in the range of 15 - 20 pages, because the major component of the thesis is the art work itself. MLA format is the norm in studio art, with parenthetical citations (and supplementary footnotes for additional content, if necessary), and a Works Cited section that is at least a full page in length. Illustrations of both the student's work and their artistic references’ artwork should be attached at the back, with references to figure numbers in the text.

Biology: In the Biology Department, an honors thesis takes the form of a research report similar in format to an article in a scientific journal. The style, length, and format will depend on the nature of the research and is best determined in consultation with the thesis advisor. In all cases, however, the thesis should include an extensive review of the literature pertinent to the study. It should include a thorough description of the methods and results and a thoughtful discussion interpreting the results and evaluating their significance and implications.

Business Administration: Contact faculty members in Else School of Management directly.

Chemistry and Biochemistry: The honors research topic in Chemistry or Biochemistry is chosen with the help of the faculty mentor who can identify and suggest feasible projects. The honors project is often a continuation of ongoing research by the student with the faculty mentor, but new projects can also be started. The typical Honors project will involve original research in experimental (lab based), theoretical (computer-assisted), or educational chemistry.

Typical Timeline: The Junior Spring semester is used to become familiar with background literature and laboratory procedures. Some basic experiments might be performed. Almost all of the experimental work is done during the summer months. The write-up begins during the summer months (usually involving the introduction and methods sections) and is usually completed later in the fall term. Often extra experimental details are collected during the first few months of the fall semester.

Thesis: The typical thesis contains between 30-60 pages of content including an introduction, results (graphs, reaction schemes, figures), discussion of experimental work, and bibliography. The data collected represents a significant part of the body of the thesis and is very time-intensive and requires a significant commitment on behalf of the student.

Presentations: Chemistry/Biochemistry Honors students work closely with their faculty mentors. Most of these students will present their work at local, regional, or national meetings and several will be co-authors with their faculty mentors on peer-reviewed publications.

Classical Studies: An honors project in Classical Studies consists of original research, analysis, and argument based on primary sources including Greek or Latin texts, ancient art or architecture, or other forms of material culture. Students must use disciplinary print and electronic research databases to situate their research in appropriate scholarly and historical contexts. Students are also expected to identify and apply critical theories relevant to the sub-field of inquiry. Students writing philological theses must have sufficient reading fluency in Ancient Greek or Latin. Honors theses in Classical Studies are typically 50-75 pages. They should follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

Communications: The honors thesis in Communications will situate original research of a communicative phenomenon within a relevant theoretical paradigm. There are a number of methods available, though qualitative, interpretive methods are the primary methodological choices. The work should be framed theoretically and interpreted through that frame. In this way, the honors thesis is notably different from in-depth journalistic writing, which focuses on description alone and not theoretical interpretation. There is not a set length requirement for the thesis, but the expectation is that the candidate will offer a final product that approaches the theoretical and methodological standards of peer-review communications journals.

Computer Science and Computer Information Systems (CIS): An Honors Project in Computer Science (and in Computer Science with a Concentration in CIS) consists primarily of the implementation of a computer project to solve a given problem. Service-learning projects (which result in the delivery of a complete project to a non-profit or school-related organization) are highly recommended, but any large project will be considered. Project ideas can come from the student or the faculty mentor. The student will conduct background research on the topic, complete several rounds of design of the project, implement the project, present it at an appropriate forum, and write the Honors thesis, which includes the background research, a discussion of the design process, a full description of the implemented project, an experiential description of the process of completing the project, and appendices which include design documents and a complete users guide. Honors projects in Computer Science are often extended or implemented for a new platform as a Senior Project.

Economics: Contact faculty members in Else School of Management directly.

Education: An honors thesis in Education involves the pursuit of an empirical question related to teaching, learning or the contexts of education, including educational policy, practice, sociology, or history. Honors students conduct a thorough review of existing research and theoretical literature related to their question, and then design and conduct original laboratory or field-based research in order to provide new insight on their topic. These efforts are synthesized into a thesis paper. Since education is so interdisciplinary, these projects could take a wide range of forms. Style will be APA format.

English: Honors Projects directed by members of the English Department come in two kinds, scholarly and creative, though some fall in between, combining both approaches. Scholarly projects typically begin with the student identifying an issue in a text or set of texts that he or she wishes to explore more fully than has been possible in class. In consultation with a member or members of the department, the student articulates a research problem, identifies appropriate secondary sources and undertakes a literature review, working toward the articulation of an original thesis. In a Creative Project, students commonly express the desire to explore a particular literary genre as a writer. Although such projects most often include a scholarly component as well—-via background research in theory and practice the genre in question—-the focus of the creative thesis will be on the student's production of a significant work or body of works. In consultation with their mentors, some students blend scholarly and creative work in a more hybrid fashion, their goal being not so much to produce literary criticism or a literary work as to explore both analytical and creative ways of engagement.

European Studies: European Studies is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on a variety of disciplines including Art History, Classical Studies, Economics, English, Geography, Geology, History, Modern Languages, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Religious Studies, Sociology/Anthropology and Theater. Thus, an honors thesis in European Studies is defined by its focus on a topic that is relevant to Europe. Disciplinary approaches should be determined based on the nature of the topic and student's area of interest. The thesis should follow the research standards and stylistic conventions of the primary disciplines in which it is written. Students should possess sufficient language ability to conduct research in their area of interest. They are encouraged to conduct research and/or acquire primary materials (such as newspaper articles, recorded music, oral interviews, and campaign/political advertisements) during study abroad.

French: An honors thesis in French should have a clear, central argument that is well supported by primary evidence derived from substantial analysis of primary texts. The argument should be set within a theoretical framework and should be situated within the body of scholarship that has been published to date. Theses in French are usually in the range of 40 - 50 pages, divided into appropriate sections or chapters. You must use MLA format with parenthetical citations and you are required to include a Works Cited section of at least 2 - 3 pages.

Geology: Honors in Geology typically consists of five components: field research/data acquisition, data or sample analysis, interpretation, writing, and presentation of results at the Annual Meeting of the Mississippi Academy of Science. Project proposals may be originated by the student or a faculty member. Research is chosen that will result in a paper that is formatted and written in a style that would be acceptable for submittal to a peer review journal. This translates into a manuscript that is between 20-25 pages of text followed by figures, tables and appropriate appendices.

History: An honors project in history is normally a research project into an historical issue about which there is a potential for some new ground (however small) of knowledge or interpretation can be broken. A review of the relevant existing scholarly literature on the topic will be undertaken at the outset. The Honors paper should have a clear thesis, which the student tests against evidence from primary source material. Completed Honors theses in history usually run in the range of 50 to 60 pages and follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

Latin American Studies: Latin American Studies (LAS) is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on such fields as Political Science, History, Literature, Religious Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Biology, Economics, Business Administration, and the Performing Arts. Hence, an honors thesis in LAS should be grounded in the scholarship of a particular field, while exhibiting an awareness of issues in relevant supporting fields. An LAS thesis should focus on a topic that is relevant to Latin America; topics limited to the Latino experience in the USA are not usually acceptable. The thesis should follow the research standards and stylistic conventions of the primary discipline in which it is written, and it should be roughly 50-60 pages in length. Students should possess sufficient ability in Spanish or Portuguese to include at least some secondary sources from the region, and we encourage the acquisition of primary materials (such as newspaper articles and oral interviews) during study-abroad classes. Finally, in addition to the Honors Conference, students will present their work at the annual LAS Symposium at Birmingham-Southern College.

Mathematics and Applied Mathematics: Honors research in Mathematics affords opportunities for students with exceptional mathematical skills to read and research under the guidance of an instructor in a field of special interest which is not included in standard curricular offerings. The student will use deductive reasoning to extend a concept which would naturally arise from an article, a course, or area of mathematical interest to the student. Students must make a significant contribution to the project.

Music: An honors thesis in Music may be written with a focus in the disciplines of musicology, theory, or performance practice. Those that are focused on music history or theory are generally expected to be approximately 50-75 pages (not counting illustrations or musical insertions) and must be organized around a clear central argument, supported by primary and secondary sources and close analysis of musical examples. Honors theses in Music that involve creative work such as composition or performance must also be accompanied by a written thesis (generally around 15-20 pages) that analyzes the author's creative work and sets it in context, with substantial analysis of at least one significant comparative piece, musician, and/or composer. For easy reference musical examples should be scanned and inserted into the body of the text. Citations and bibliography must be formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style, the standard for music history. The text should use footnotes rather than endnotes, where appropriate.

Neuroscience and Cognitive Studies: Contact Dr. Melissa Lea, director of the NCS major and minor.

Philosophy: An honors thesis in the department of Philosophy consists of original research, analysis, and argument on a topic of the student's choosing that results in a paper ranging from 50-75 pages. The paper must show a good understanding of the primary and secondary materials, show original thought and analysis, be developed over time in consultation with the student's director (typically meeting at least every two weeks to discuss progress and rewrites), and will likely end up being revised 4-5 times before the defense.

Philosophy - Religious Studies: See the descriptions for each major.

Physics: An honors project in physics will involve being directly involved in the research of a faculty member. The student will be expected to be an active participant and contributor to the scientific work being conducted. In order to have the minimum physics background to actively participate in research, no student will be allowed to commence an honors project in physics without being at least concurrently enrolled in either Applications of Modern Physics or Quantum Mechanics. Additionally the student must have completed Calculus I-III and Differential Equations prior to beginning work on the honors thesis. Other additional background may be required by the thesis advisor depending on the nature of the student's research project. In general, a successful honors thesis in physics will include an overview of the relevant broad arena of the Science, an examination of the literature within the area of the specific research problem being addressed, the results of the particular research undertaken, an interpretation of these results, and an indication of future work in the area that should be pursued. The thesis will be prepared using the LaTex document markup language. This is the default manner in which nearly all mathematics and physics articles are prepared and will be required of the student. Additionally the thesis will be prepared using the ruthesis style file that will be provided that will enforce certain margin and typeface guidelines. It would be expected that a physics honors thesis would exceed 30 pages of text in length (not counting figures or tables) but only in rare circumstances exceed 100 pages.

Political Science: Honors theses in Political Science may be theoretical or (more commonly) empirical research analysis. In either case, students pose a research question and are paired with the faculty member whose research interests or methods expertise fit most closely with the project. The resulting thesis should move beyond replication of previous research; it may be (and often is) a variation on a theme currently being explored in the discipline.

Political theory theses projects typically involve analyzing one or more primary and secondary philosophical texts. Theory theses should advance a strong central argument and demonstrate original thinking on the topic at hand. Theory theses go through an extensive drafting process and should represent masters' level command of the analyzed texts. They typically range from 50-75 pages in length. Students who are considering completing a theory honors project should complete the department's Political Theory course during their sophomore year.

Empirical honors theses involve either qualitative or quantitative analysis of original data. Honors students with empirical theses complete a review of relevant literature and develop their research question into one or more testable hypotheses in the spring of their junior year. By the end of the spring term, students should have a summer research plan in place. During the summer, students conduct research and analyze data in regular communication with their faculty advisor. The write-up of empirical research should follow the format of a typical journal article in political science and should range from 30-40 pages. Students who are considering completing an empirical honors project are strongly encouraged to complete the department's Research Methods course during their sophomore year or the fall of their junior year. Faculty members may decline to work with students who lack the necessary methods training to properly investigate their research question.

Psychology: Honors projects in Psychology typically have 2 main criteria: 1) The student must, in consultation with a faculty mentor, design, conduct, and present a completed research project. The research should be novel or at the very least a variation of a previously reported research finding, and 2) the Level of the project must be Senior or preferable Masters level. Students must use proper research design, do a comprehensive literature search to find what is already known, collect pilot data, modify the study, then test the main hypothesis. The scope of the project must be very narrow in an effort to eliminate extraneous variables that may be responsible for or altering results. Under the guidance of the thesis advisor, students are required to perform appropriate statistical analysis of data. The thesis length ranges from 30 to 60 pages depending on the scope of the project.

Public Management: An Honors project in public management requires an independent research project which bears upon a topic of importance to public policy and governance. It can focus on what polices are desirable or how policies are best implemented. The project should advance the knowledge and practice of government by analyzing past errors or best practices in public policy or administration. The project should advance our knowledge either by bringing new evidence to bear on old questions or by asking new questions of existing evidence. While there is no quantitative requirement per se, the project should bring to bear the evidence that is most convincing to neutral observers, which, in this field will almost inevitably involve the presentation of some quantitative data. The research must be situated in the existing theoretical literature in as much as it must acknowledge past contributions and show how the student's research is a contribution to that literature. Finally, the research should be in a form that is accessible to policy makers by using clear and measured language and including recommendations for specific changes in the policy or practice of government.

Religious Studies: An Honors thesis in religious studies consists of original research, analysis, and argument on a topic of the student's choosing normally resulting in a paper ranging from 50-75 pages. The paper must show a good understanding of the primary and secondary materials, show original thought and analysis, and be developed over time in consultation with the student's director (with regular meetings to discuss the research, writing, and rewriting).

Religious Studies-Sociology/Anthropology: See the descriptions for each major.

Sociology/Anthropology: Honor projects in Sociology and Anthropology require students to test their thesis through field research and collection of primary ethnographic, archaeological, or sociological data. As a general rule we discourage library-based thesis topics that rely on secondary sources of information. Field research is usually undertaken overseas during the summer months, though majors presumably could conduct research projects in Jackson completed during the school year. Because most of our Honors students conduct their research over the summer, they typically do not write until school resumes. This means that Sociology-Anthropology majors should be given extra time to write; most in recent years have submitted drafts and defended in December. Most Sociology-Anthropology theses average 75-100 pages in length, or longer. Examples are available at www.millsaps.edu/svp.

Spanish: An honors thesis in Spanish should have a clear, central argument that is well supported by primary evidence derived from substantial analysis of primary texts. The argument should be set within a theoretical framework and should be situated within the body of scholarship that has been published to date. Theses in Spanish are usually in the range of 40 - 50 pages, divided into appropriate sections or chapters. You must use MLA format with parenthetical citations and you are required to include a Works Cited section of at least 2 - 3 pages.

Theatre: The nature of theatre demands an organic approach to the honors research topic. Students can focus on acting, arts management, dramaturgy, ethics and theatre, playwriting, stage management, scenic design, technical theatre, theatre education, theatre and religion, or theatre history. Typically, students research, analyze, explain, manage, and carry out some important aspect of a theatrical production. To satisfy the written portion of the honors project, students write a thesis paper. The paper serves as a synthesis of the project, and includes theatrical references, a works cited page, in-text citations and properly labeled images of both the student's work and the work of any artist that the student references. The required length of the thesis paper depends on the project focus and is best determined in consultation with the thesis advisor.