In 1998, MTSU's honors program, which had begun in 1973, became an Honors College. Just a few years later, with the help of generous alumni and friends, the College moved into a state-of-the-art building, that is now a central part of East campus. While the physical facilities have improved immensely, the College maintains its mission of providing an undergraduate education of exceptional quality and value to a small but diverse student population deeply committed to scholarship.
To fulfill this mission, the Honors College fosters the academic excellence and nurturing environment of a small, select, private, liberal arts college within the setting of a major university. The free exchange of ideas and the opportunity to learn from one another in small classes taught by expert faculty make the Honors College experience rich and meaningful.
The faculty advisor and student must first decide upon the general nature of the project and select two committee members. Before and during the first committee meeting, the faculty advisor, committee members and student develop a research project that can be done within the scope of three two-credit courses and work out a mutually acceptable timeline for carrying out the research training, library research, proposal writing, and research activity required to complete the project. Given the time-sensitive nature of much biology research, the scheduling of research training and activity over the course of BIO 499A, 499B and 499C is flexible. Students who start research with their faculty advisor earlier than the start of BIO 499A might be required by their advisor to complete the library research and proposal requirements for an Honors project in a BIO 496 Research Literature course in the term prior to BIO 499A. This would allow the student to participate more fully in research activity in BIO 499A. However, a proposal produced in a BIO 496 course still requires the approval of the committee members who, if selected after the completion of the BIO 496, might ask the proposal to be revised to meet their requirements.
Students are required to complete and submit a thesis proposal with the following sections: Introduction, Methods, Timeline, and References. The introduction must place the proposed research in a broader theoretical or conceptual context and explain why the research is important in terms of theory, application and/or generation of new knowledge. It must also describe what is currently well established in the broader area, identify unanswered questions that relate to the proposed research, and indicate how the proposed research will answer those questions or fill in a gap in our knowledge. The introduction should finish by explicitly stating the hypothesis or question being addressed (or the objectives of the research), and if appropriate, providing predictions of objectives or tests. The methods section should describe the methods in sufficient detail for committee members to evaluate their adequacy, feasibility and appropriateness for the tasks in question. This section should also provide details on data analysis, including statistical tests. The timeline should outline when major aspects of the research will be accomplished and when writing will commence. Biology and Biotechnology thesis proposals are generally at least 1250 words long, and have a minimum of 7 references to scientific journal articles, review articles, and scientific texts, which must be properly cited and referenced. The writing style must be polished and free of typos. A fully revised version of this proposal must be received and approved by the faculty advisor and committee members and submitted to the Honors office by the Monday of the last week of classes of the BIO 499A term (or the end of summer session for students who do BIO 499A in summer session).
4.3 Students are required to have a GPA of 3.5 to enter the Honors program and to maintain a GPA of 3.25 to continue in the Honors program. Students whose GPA drops below 3.25 after completing BIO 499A or BIO 499B can continue in the Honors project only at the discretion of the faculty advisor and committee members, who will base their judgment on the student’s ability to recover a GPA of 3.25 by the end of the next BIO 499 course. If that student’s GPA fails to recover to 3.25 by the end of the next BIO 499 course, the faculty advisor and committee members must either transfer the student to a BIO 497 or BIO 495 or discontinue their research altogether.
The College is the home of an award-winning literary magazine and a journal of undergraduate research. We also work closely with the Honors Student Association and the Phi Kappa Phi and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies.
All Honors program students are required to do an Honors thesis project. Non Honors students, including transfer students, who wish to do a Honors thesis project must first meet the requirements for entry into the Honors program, which are a cumulative GPA of 3.5 and sufficient evidence of initiative, originality and intellectual maturity to warrant registration in a Honors thesis project. Biology and Biotechnology Majors generally do a project with a faculty member in the department of their respective Majors. Biology and Biotechnology Honors projects are currently done through the same set of BIO 499 courses (though separate courses for each Major might be established in the future). Biology and Biotechnology Majors are free to work with faculty outside Biology and Biotechnology and earn credits toward the 40 credit hour Biology Majors requirement as long as they register in BIO 499, select subject matter that is related to Biology or Biotechnology and have a co-advisor within their respective Major (Biology or Biotechnology) who assumes the responsibility of ensuring that the student fulfills the requirements for completing an Honors project in Biology/Biotechnology. Such students must get signatures on all Honors documents from their advisor and Biology/Biotechnology co-advisor plus the head of Biology/Biotechnology and the dean of CSM. Alternatively, Biology and Biotechnology Majors working with faculty outside Biology and Biotechnology can choose to earn honors credits in other departments (e.g. CHEM 499) that do not count toward the 40 hr Biology Majors requirement. Biology and Biotechnology Majors must also have completed all four Biology core courses (BIO 114, 124, 214, 224) prior to starting an Honors project. Students who are not Biology or Biotechnology Majors and who wish to do an Honors project with Biology or Biotechnology faculty can do so for BIO 499 credit, and are subject to the requirements and credit system of Biology/Biotechnology honors projects.
Our professional honors advisors help ensure that our students achieve academic success and take full advantage of the opportunities available at the University.
An Honors thesis project in Biology or Biotechnology is usually done in three consecutive terms and requires registration in three two-credit BIO 499 courses (BIO 499A, 499B, and 499C). These courses are usually taken in spring term of junior year, and fall and spring terms of senior year. However, students, with the permission of their faculty advisor (see below), can start the program earlier, in the fall term of junior year, or later, in the summer session between junior and senior years. Students who start an Honors thesis project in their junior year can but are not required to do research during the summer between their junior and senior years. How they register to do summer research (i.e., in a BIO 499, BIO 497 or another course), what credit hours they receive, and if and how they are paid must be determined by arrangement with the faculty advisor. One BIO 499 course (499A or 499B) can be taken in summer school, but the other two BIO 499 courses must be taken during fall and spring terms. Students are discouraged from taking BIO 499 courses as eight-week block courses since it requires double the weekly time commitment (see below).
Honors Seminars are unique, discussion-based courses proposed by faculty on subjects within an area of their academic interest and expertise.