The Honors Option Course is designed to accomplish a number of things:
- to allow the student to work closely with faculty in a chosen field;
- to allow the student to see how professionals in the field do their research and study;
- to encourage the student to pursue independent research;
- to encourage the student to pursue in-depth study/research in his/her chosen field or topic; and
- to enhance the student’s confidence about the skills necessary to be successful in the chosen field.
Mainly during the junior/senior years, all Honors students are required to take three (3) Honors Option courses in 300-400 level courses (usually a total of 9 hours). The process for completion of any Honors Option/Independent Study is as follows:
- Students must first obtain permission from faculty mentors to pursue any Honors Option in any 300-400 level courses.
- Students must confer with faculty mentors to brainstorm and mutually agree on the Honors work to be completed.
- Students then submit the on-line H-Option contract (found on the Honors web page). By submitting the on-line contracts, students confirm the faculty members’ agreement to direct the Honors Option, and also confirm that students and faculty mutually agreed upon the Honors course work to be completed. A description of the Honors coursework must be provided in the H-Option contract.
Contracts detail the department, course number, semester/year, faculty name(s) and Honors coursework to be completed in order to obtain Honors credit. Contracts are processed by the Associate Director, who then sends them along to Department Chairs to request creation of the “H” sections of the 300-400 level courses (if they have not already been created), the Office of the Registrar to document the new “H” course numbers and to ensure the Honors credit is reflected on students’ transcripts, and the faculty mentors and the Honors students for their own records.
Contracts are due by early Honors Registration day, the first Wednesday of the first week of preregistration. Negotiations for H-Options then must necessarily begin about a month before Honors Registration day (if not before), so e-bulletins are sent to remind upper-division Honors students they must meet with faculty mentors about their Honors Options. Honors Option credit cannot be assigned to a completed class (or a “closed” semester), and general studies courses are not allowed to become H-Options unless by special permission of the Honors Directors. Honors options may be dropped until the end of the 10th week of the semester, in accordance with the Registrar's policy. Incompletes may be awarded for H-Option courses, and must be completed within one academic year, again, in accordance with Registrar's office policy.
The first three H-Options are designed to give Honors students one-on-one contact and mentorship with their faculty in their respective majors. The final H-Option quite often serves as the Honors Senior Study, or capstone of Honors coursework. The purpose of such a study is to provide that capstone, or culmination to Honors students’ undergraduate careers. In some cases the three Honors Options can lead-up to the Honors Senior Study; in most cases, students pursue topics of their choice in the first three H-Options, then pursue a senior-level seminar, internship, or research, in which none of the H-Options are linked in a particular way.
Several majors require something like a capstone. The Biology department requires Biology 420, Problems in Biology, as a senior seminar/research, which can then serve as the Honors Senior study for Biology majors. In order to create an Honors-level to the senior seminar requirement for Biology majors, Honors Biology majors are required to present their research at a local, regional, or national Biological conference. This adds to the Honors students’ experiences and resumes. The Department of Chemistry has much the same sort of Honors Senior Study requirement.
Not all departments have a recognizable senior study component such as a Senior Seminar—however certain requirements of certain majors certainly fulfill the philosophy of such a senior study.
- Education majors must complete their education internship, routinely called Student Teaching, and many Honors education majors utilize this internship as their Honors Senior Study by completing a Teaching Portfolio of some sort.
- Business majors also usually pursue research in their emphasis areas such as Accounting, Finance, Management, or Marketing.
- Social Science majors such as Psychology, Sociology, Political Science often pursue research in their respective fields as well.
The main rationale of the Honors Senior Study is to provide that capstone experience, but also to have the Honors students provide a tangible outcome, a “product”, which they submit to the Honors Directors for the Honors Senior Study Archive. Presumably, then, the Honors students also have a utilitarian product beneficial to them beyond UNK, such as a professional portfolio for a career path.
Choice of the course and topics for both H-Options and the Honors Senior Study is always up to the Honors students. Collaboration with Honors faculty can lead to exciting ideas and research for both the students and the faculty involved. Ultimately the strength of the H-Option/Senior Study courses/coursework lies in the creative abilities of the Honors students and faculty. For most students, these can be some of the most exciting courses they take, because the core is independent research.