During the senior year, Honors majors carry out research and write a thesis under the direction of a faculty mentor. With only a few exceptions, such as Math and Computer Science, graduation with Honors requires the completion of a Senior Honors thesis. This consists of detailed, original research in a student's chosen field. The thesis is normally completed during the senior year. Length and format requirements vary by department. Thesis research and writing is normally done under the direction of a professor who shares the student's areas of interest.

Many departments require their Honors majors to register for special seminars and independent study research courses. Other departments do not have these courses, so their students can choose to enroll in HONORS 490. Since thesis research and writing most often extends beyond one term, the course may be assigned a "Y" grade for the term or terms prior to completion. This simply means "extended course" or "work in progress." At the completion of the thesis, one letter grade will be assigned for all the terms involved. Unlike an "I" (for an incomplete), the "Y" does not remain on the record.

After an evaluation of the thesis and the overall academic record, Honors department advisors recommend that students graduate with Honors. Deadlines and procedures for evaluating senior theses vary by department. Some departments have a committee that evaluates all theses, whereas others are based primarily on the judgment of the student's advisor and the Departmental Honors advisor.

The Department will then send one of four possible recommendations to the Honors Office: "No Honors," "Honors," "High Honors," or "Highest Honors." No Honors is given for work that does not meet departmental standards, and for students with GPAs under 3.4 ("No Honors" is not  noted on the transcript or diploma). The Honors Academic Board will accept petitions from departments requesting exceptions to the above minimum GPA requirements if there is compelling evidence that an Honors student's final GPA does not adequately represent the student's record of outstanding academic achievement. The other three recommendations ("Honors," "High Honors," "Highest Honors") will be posted on the final transcript and diploma. These are separate from the Distinction awards, which are also posted on graduates' diplomas and transcripts. Levels of Distinction are awarded on the basis of the student's final cumulative GPA.

All seniors are eligible to apply for senior thesis and travel grants. These include the Graf Research Grant, the Hellman Family Grant, the Davidson Grant, the Kennedy Travel Grant, and the Cutcheon Research and Travel Grants. Information is available in the Honors Office, and on the Honors website.

Honors Thesis Intent Form for the Upper-Level Writing Requirement:
Honors students have the option of using their senior theses to satisfy the Upper-Level Writing Requirement. A Sweetland Center for Writing Thesis Intent Form is available in the Honors Office, and must be filled out by the student and the thesis advisor. An Honors Director will then approve the request, and it will be forwarded to the Sweetland Center for Writing for processing. This form should be completed within the first couple of weeks of the term the student plans to finish the thesis. Completion of the requirement hinges on satisfactory completion of the thesis. The form is available in the Honors Office or is downloadable from the Honors website http://www.lsa.umich.edu/honors.

Deep Blue Archive. The Honors Program recognizes the significance of the scholarship in Honors theses by making it permanently available to the academic community. This can be done by Honors students depositing their thesis in the Honors Thesis collection of the University of Michigan's Deep Blue electronic archive. Every term after graduation, the Honors academic auditor sends all Honors graduates information and web links to submit the Honors thesis in the Deep Blue archive.

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