The Senior 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.
*Students who began PRIOR to Fall 2020 may choose to complete HNR 499 for anywhere between 1-4 credits (1 credit = 3-5 hours per week)
*Students who began IN or AFTER Fall 2020 will complete HNR 499 for 2 credits.
NOTE: You may not begin a project without the approval of your project advisor and the Frederik Meijer Honors College.
Senior Project Instructions
Please read the following instructions carefully and completely before starting on your proposal.
Step One: 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.). They 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. Gilles, Director of the Meijer Honors College, at [email protected] or (616) 331-3219. Once you have a faculty advisor who is interested in supervising your project, ask them to read the Guidelines for Mentoring an Honors Senior Project.
Step Two: Preliminary Research and Preparation
You should do significant background work on your topic before you make your proposal (i.e., research the literature surrounding the topic, do preliminary lab work, and/or investigate the feasibility of your project—whatever is the foundational work for your project). It is advisable to work with your faculty mentor to do this preliminary work. To see previous examples of completed senior projects visit Scholar Works.
Step Three: Developing Project Proposal
Once the initial steps have been completed then you will collaborate with your advisor to develop a detailed proposal*. Click here for the proposal details to guarantee that your proposal includes the required components.
*Students who started in and after Fall 2020 will take HNR 401 (1 credit) at least a semester before HNR 499 to prepare their proposal. HNR 401 is optional for students who started before Fall 2020.
Research Projects Involving Human or Animal Subjects: Projects involving human or animal subjects (including questionnaires and surveys) may be subject to prior approval by the Human Research Review Committee or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. To determine whether or not your project requires prior approval, click here and review the guidelines and procedures with your advisor.
Step Four: Submission and Approval for HNR 499
Once you have completed your proposal, you will login here (using your Grand Valley network ID) to an online form to fill out the proposal form and attach your proposal document. (Must be in .doc or PDF format.) Your proposal will first be sent to your advisor for approval and then forwarded on to the Honors College Director for final review. Both student and advisor will be e-mailed once the project is approved by the Honors Director, or in the case that something is lacking from the application. Upon approval, students will be notified that they have been given permission (an override) in Banner to register for HNR 499 and the corresponding section based on credit hours. Please do not submit an override request for the senior project, you will receive an email after the proposal is approved by our Director.
Step Five: Completing the Project
Work on the project as you outlined it in the proposal. You should have put a schedule for completion in your proposal--try to hold to that if you can. It takes discipline to do an independent study project, so work closely with your advisor in the process. If you should find that the project is not doable as you had outlined it in the proposal, that is not a disaster. Research often ends up going a different direction than you had expected. You should not need to submit a revised proposal if the project veers in a different direction, as long as your advisor agrees with the new approach. Do try to stick to the timeline, though.
Step Six: 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. It is highly advisable that you plan to turn in a digital copy of your completed project to your advisor by the Friday before the next-to-last week of the semester so that you don’t scramble at the end, and so that you can be considered for Meijer Honors College project awards.