According to the Brown University Faculty Rules, “The University shall, at graduation, grant Honors to students whose work in a field of concentration has demonstrated superior quality and culminated in an Honors Thesis of Distinction.”
Honors recipients in the School of Engineering must meet the following criteria:
- Demonstrate a strong academic record (3.40 concentration GPA through the 7th semester)
- Propose and execute an independent research project under the guidance of a faculty member
- Fulfill all deadlines mentioned below to the satisfaction of his/her research advisor and the Honors Program Committee
- Complete a written thesis to the satisfaction of the Honors Program Committee
- Give a scientific/technical talk at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in April
Preparation for Honors
It is highly recommended that a thesis advisor and Honors research project be identified prior to the start of the senior year. This is the responsibility of the student. Students who wish to complete an honors thesis should ideally begin communication with a potential advisor junior year, or earlier. Many students perform research over the summer before senior year although this is not required. Many students also take independent study courses during sophomore or junior year, which is a great way to initiate a relationship with a potential research advisor. Students who are having difficulty finding a research advisor may wish to schedule a meeting with a member of the Honors Committee to discuss specific ways to identify a project and advisor. It is never too early to begin thinking about the process, and students of all levels are invited to attend the Honors Information Session in September.
Students may apply for admission to the Honors Program by filling out the on-line form. The application must be submitted by September 17 of the student’s senior year. At this time the student must have an engineering faculty member who will act as his/her honors thesis advisor for the academic year. In cases of cross-disciplinary research students may be co-advised, so long as one faculty member is Engineering and/or Biomedical Engineering. Students will be informed of their acceptance into the program by October 1st. Students may wish to enroll in an independent study course during the fall and/or spring semester of senior year to formalize their research plans and commitment to the Honors Program. (Although only one independent study course may count toward concentration credit.) Note, these deadlines are intended for students graduating in four years. Students with different graduation timelines who would like to pursue Honors should contact a member of the Honors Program Committee to discuss alternative plans.
The minimum grade point average for admission to the Engineering Honors Program is 3.4/4.0 on graded concentration coursework through the 7th semester. This GPA will be calculated based on the courses that are required to satisfy engineering concentration requirements and which are listed on the applicant’s approved engineering concentration form. Candidates are responsible for insuring their concentration form is up-to-date at the time of application. Courses not taken at Brown and/or not taken for a grade will not be included in the GPA calculation. Honors candidates must not have more than three concentration classes taken for S/NC, including ENGN0030. Any pending INCs must be carefully explained and are generally not favorable for admission. The GPA will be calculated at the beginning of the fall semester to determine acceptance into the program (GPA may be slightly below 3.4 if the 7th semester is expected to bring it above the threshold). A final GPA calculation will be computed at the end of the 7th semester to determine if the student meets the academic requirements. A student not fully meeting the admission criteria described above may petition the Honors Committee for consideration of other evidence of academic accomplishments, such as significant project work completed in collaboration with a faculty member. One or more letters of recommendation from faculty should accompany such a petition, which may be referred to the Concentration Committee for a final decision.
Once Admitted to the Honors Program
Admission to the Honors Program does not guarantee that a student will receive Honors upon graduation. Recommendation for this distinction by the School of Engineering requires that the candidate continues to demonstrate academic excellence throughout his/her senior year. Once admitted to the Honors Program, it is expected that students work closely and diligently with his/her advisor and/or research lab throughout the year. The candidate’s thesis advisor will make recommendations to the Honors Committee regarding progress toward achieving the honors thesis requirements. An honors candidate is expected to make progress toward a written thesis throughout the year. There is a thesis proposal due in the fall that clearly outlines the goals and significance of the research, and distinguishes the honors thesis work from any other coursework, capstone project, or group work that the honors candidate is currently involved in. A list of the major deadlines for the Honors Program is provided below. Failure to meet any of the listed deadlines to the satisfaction of the Honors Program Committee and/or the student’s research advisor is grounds for dismissal from the Honors Program.
Choosing a Reader
In addition to a research advisor, each honors candidate must also ask an expert in his or her field of research to be a “reader”. The reader’s responsibilities are to read the written thesis, attend the student’s presentation at the Undergraduate Research Symposium, and offer general guidance in both of these areas. The reader is commonly a member of faculty, but it is not a requirement so long as they are fully capable of assessing the student’s research. The honors thesis advisor oftentimes helps candidates decide on an appropriate reader. However, it is the honors candidate’s responsibility to approach potential readers by clearly communicating the thesis topic and outlining the reader’s responsibilities. A confirmed reader is due to the honors committee in March.
Undergraduate Research Symposium
Students will be required to present their research in an oral presentation at a research symposium at the end of their 8th semester. Details will be provided at the beginning of the 8th semester.
Important Deadline 2014-15 Honors Program
For those students pursuing a non-four year degree and wishing to complete honors, please schedule a meeting with one of the members of the Honors Program Committee and an alternative plan can likely be constructed.
|Sept. 8||Honors Information Session
7:00 p.m., Barus & Holley 190
Intended for all sophomores, juniors and seniors interested in honors.
|Sept. 17||Honors Application Due|
|Oct. 1||Applicants are informed of acceptance into the Honors Program.|
|Nov. 3||Research proposal due|
|Jan. 21||Honors Program Committee will inform candidates if they are to continue with the Honors Program (based on 7th semester GPA, research proposal, and advisor's sign-off)|
|March 16||Draft thesis due.
Name of confirmed reader due to Honors Program Committee
|Thesis submission for review by advisor, reader and Honors Program Committee|
|April 24||Undergraduate Research Symposium
|April 27 (5pm)||Final deadline for approved thesis submission with signed cover page, due by 5 pm.
|Brian Sheldon (sabbatical fall 2014)
|Anita Shukla (BME)
|Gabriel Taubin (sabbatical fall 2014)
|Tori Riccitelli (School of Engineering)
|Michael Barr (Biomedical Engineering)