BCS Honors Research

The honors research program is designed to allow brain and cognitive sciences (BCS) seniors who have made a significant investment in research to present their work in the form of an honors thesis.


Applications to the honors program must be made during the student's senior year, no later than the last day of classes of the fall semester. The application consists of a three-page thesis proposal with the endorsing signatures of two faculty members who have agreed to act as thesis advisors.

The thesis proposal should:

  • Present the background and rationale for the research
  • Explain why the work undertaken is important
  • Outline the methods used to address the problem
  • Estimate the time frame to complete the work

At least one faculty advisor must be from the BCS department, but one advisor may be from an affiliated program if their expertise is relevant to the proposed research. Examples of past research proposals, as well as the form for submitting endorsing faculty signatures, are located in the undergraduate coordinator's office in Meliora 363.


To be eligible for the honors research program, a student must:

  • Maintain a GPA of at least 3.3 both cumulatively and within the BCS major. Grades from the senior fall semester will be taken into account when determining eligibility.
  • Have completed at least two semesters or summers of independent research in BCS or a closely related field. Please submit names and contact information for previous research supervisors for confirmation purposes.

Applications from students who do not meet the eligibility requirements will not be considered. Eligible applications will be reviewed by the BCS Undergraduate Committee during winter break. Students will receive email notification with instructions for registering for spring honors courses before classes resume in January.

Getting Ready

Students considering the honors research program should not take BCSC 310 during the fall semester. The honors section of BCS 311: Honors Senior Seminar is only available in the spring. Thesis proposal applications with endorsing signatures must be submitted to the undergraduate coordinator in Meliora 363 no later than the last day of classes in the fall semester. Students who have been accepted to the Take Five or KEY programs may choose to apply to the honors research program during either the fourth or fifth year of study.

Program Overview

Upon acceptance into the honors research program, students must register for BCSC 311: Honors Senior Seminar, and BCSC 393, a four-credit independent study, for the spring semester. Note that the registration deadline for independent study courses occurs before the regular add/drop deadline.

The written honors thesis should be in the form of a scientific journal article. Requirements on thesis length are up to the discretion of the thesis advisors. The thesis is due on or before 5 p.m. on April 15 (or the nearest business day). Before this time, the BCS department will notify students of an additional faculty member who will join the two advisors on the thesis committee.

The final draft of the thesis must be submitted to all three members of the committee, and an additional hard copy must be submitted to the undergraduate coordinator. After consultation with the advisory committee, students must also notify the undergraduate coordinator of the date and time for the oral thesis defense. This defense is usually scheduled during the last week of April or first week of May, depending on faculty availability.

Students will present their thesis orally with the help of PowerPoint slides or other visual/audio aids, followed by questions from the audience and thesis committee. The thesis committee's awarding of honors, high honors, or highest honors will be based on both the written thesis and the oral defense.