In order to receive the Integrated Science degree with honors a student must complete ISP coursework with distinction and carry out independent research under the supervision of a faculty member.
As most ISP students will graduate with second and sometimes third majors, a student must decide whether to work toward honors in ISP or in another major, since a project may only count in one department. In unusual circumstances, it may be possible to achieve more than one degree with honors, if more than one significant project has been done. Additionally, the student may want to write an interdisciplinary thesis for having carried out a highly significant project that connects two different disciplines. In both cases, the student must complete the Application to Pursue Dual or Interdisciplinary Senior Honors Projects in the spring of their junior year.
Because of the rigor of ISP and the fact that all courses taken are honors courses, all students with GPAs of 3.2 and above are eligible for the honors program. Students with GPAs above 3.0 will be considered for honors if they have completed a significant amount of undergraduate research.
There are no special course requirements for honors, except that by graduation, students must have completed at least two quarters of Integrated Science 398 (Undergraduate Research) under the supervision of a single faculty member. This will often be a formal recognition and culmination of a larger effort, including work for which no credit is given and/or work over the summer. Students are cautioned that only rarely is the minimum two quarters of work adequate to do a project worthy of honors. In certain cases, ISP students may petition to have 399 Independent Study credits from other ISP-related disciplines used in place of Integrated Science 398 to fulfill this requirement. Such a petition must be submitted in writing to the Program Director prior to the selection of the thesis topic. If the permission is granted, the 399 credits used cannot be used to qualify for honors in other disciplines.
Students may elect to do a research-based project in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, geology, environmental science, or computer science. Other related areas in the physical and biological sciences may also qualify upon consultation with the Program Director. In some cases where the scientific nature of the project is unclear, a formal petition must be filed and be evaluated by the ISP Committee. The project chosen should be one in which the student can make an independent intellectual contribution, and which is feasible in a limited amount of time.
At the end of January, students pursuing honors will submit an outline of their honors thesis to the ISP Honors Committee for approval. Next, on the fourth week of spring quarter, honors candidates will be required to submit a written report of the work accomplished. This paper should be entirely the student's work. It should include a description of the problem being addressed, a background section consisting of a literature survey and enough information to make the subject accessible to any faculty member in the field being studied, methods (if appropriate), results and analysis (including appropriate equations, tables, and graphs), a discussion of the work's significance and shortcomings, a list of references, and acknowledgements to others involved in the work. In writing this paper, the students should be guided by the format suitable for a journal article in the field chosen. It is not acceptable to present a published paper or manuscript intended for publication on which the student is an author, although some sections of such a paper may be used verbatim if the student wrote them originally, and if they are appropriately referenced.
The faculty adviser must write a letter on the student's behalf based on a careful examination of the report and knowledge of the project. This letter must describe the work in terms that the entire ISP Committee, which consists of faculty members from Division I departments, can understand, and must provide an evaluation of the project and of the report. It must also describe the student's original contribution and extent of independence. Most importantly, the adviser must explicitly state that he/she finds the student's work to be of high quality. The adviser’s letter must be submitted at the same time as the student's final report.
A second letter must also be submitted, written by a faculty reader unconnected with the student's project. The letter must judge the work to be both independent and substantive, but it need not describe the work. The adviser and/or reader may be members of the ISP Committee.
Participation in undergraduate research is necessary but not sufficient for honors. The ISP Committee will meet once all materials have been collected and will evaluate each student. A vote will be taken on each one. If the majority of the committee’s votes are favorable, the student will be recommended for honors to the WCAS Committee on Superior Students and Honors. If the ISP Committee votes not to recommend the student, the Program Director will write to the student explaining the basis for the decision and giving the student an opportunity to respond in writing. The student's response will be considered by the ISP committee and a new vote will be taken.
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