The Senior Project: Thesis Guide

NOTE: Please read the Thesis Guide before consulting a faculty member: HNR 499 Project/Thesis Guide

To see examples of previous HNR 499 projects, visit Scholar Works.

NOTE: You must apply by November 1st for a winter semester project and by April 1st for a summer or fall semester project.

The Honors Senior Project is an individually designed project offering an opportunity to do intensive study, writing, and research in the major or principal cognate field. The project thesis can be a significant original research or creative project, or you may build upon a project that you started in another course. You may study an area of interest in a sustained and in-depth exploration; learn more about your chosen field; make stronger connections with professionals in the field; do a project while studying abroad; hone research, writing, and critical thinking skills; or create a tangible, substantive accomplishment you can feel proud about and can discuss in job interviews, letters of application, and graduate school applications. You can even provide future employers or educators with online access to the project itself.

This work will make you more competitive for grants, fellowships, graduate school, or employment. In your future, you are likely to be competing for a choice job, admission to top graduate schools, or limited fellowship funding. You need to do more to distinguish yourself than just get good grades in your courses and score well on exams such as the GRE, MCAT, or LSAT. You can gain an edge on the competition if you plan your project early (if you do a project in the sciences, you may well need to begin in your junior year), do impressive work, and end your undergraduate career with a tangible accomplishment that your letter of reference writers can talk about in detail. Find something you can get excited about working on, and use your imagination in developing your plan. The sky is the limit! Permit required.

NOTE:  You may not begin a project without the approval of your project advisor and the Frederik Meijer Honors College.


Step 1: Finding a Project Advisor

You are responsible for finding a faculty project advisor/mentor. The advisor does not need to be an Honors faculty member or have a particular status (such as tenure-track, Associate, etc.). He/she should, though, be qualified to supervise a project in the area you are proposing. If you have any questions about the appropriateness of a prospective advisor, contact Dr. Chamberlain, director of the Meijer Honors College, who will make the determination at or (616) 331-3219. 

Step 2: Developing and Submitting Your Proposal

Once you have a faculty advisor who is interested in supervising your project, ask him/her to read the Guidelines for Mentoring an Honors Senior Project. Then develop a detailed proposal in collaboration with your advisor using the form and instructions in the Senior Project Proposal Form. Download this document and append your proposal to it. Please note that you must submit the completed proposal to your faculty advisor in digital format, and, once he/she has approved the proposal, he/she will email it to the director of the Frederik Meijer Honors College. Only then is your proposal complete. Proposals will not be accepted unless they come directly from the advisor, so make sure that you give him/her adequate time to review and submit your proposal.

You must have your proposal in to the Honors director by November 1st for a winter semester project and by April 1st for a summer or fall semester project.

Step 3: Approval and Registration for HNR 499

The Honors director will review your application. If your project is approved, Prof. Chamberlain will email you to let you know you are authorized to register for your HNR 499 course (which is done through Banner). If your project is not approved, a Frederik Meijer Honors College staff member will contact you.

Step 4: Grading for HNR 499

At the end of the semester, your project advisor will assess and grade your project. Your advisor will email your grade, along with a digital copy of your completed project, to the Honors Office.