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Undergraduate Programs

Honors Program

Public health majors entering their final year in their seniors may be invited by the Steering Committee for Public Health-Related Majors to apply to the Honors Program. To be invited, students must have completed all five courses in the Public Health Common Core with at least a 3.70 grade-point average, and they must be making excellent progress towards completing their degree. To graduate with Research Honors, students must complete the requirements of the Honors Program. Upon completion of the Honors Program, students may receive degrees with Honors, with High Honor, or with the Highest Honor.

Requirements for Research Honors in the Public Health-Related Programs

The awarding of honors is determined by the criteria listed below:

  • Student eligibility—Students will be invited by the public health-related program to apply to the honors program. Invitations are based on a 3.70 grade-point average in the five public health-related common core courses and on progress toward finishing requirements for the major. 
  • Students must have a cumulative grade-point average of at least a 3.70 in the major.
  • Completion of eight hours of thesis work over and above the credits required for the major (PH 398A: Public Health Honors Seminar for the fall semester and PH 398B: Public Health Honors Seminar for the spring semester of senior year).
  • Completion of at least one honors course, as designated with an H.
  • Completion of a distinguished research paper, completed under the direction of a faculty thesis adviser, which must be at least A- quality.

Applying for Honors

The major with research honors is awarded only to those students who specifically seek it and arrange to complete all of its requirements. Careful planning is involved in meeting these requirements, and specified deadlines must be met. 

The staff and faculty involved in the public health-related programs will assist students in any way they can, but it is the individual student’s responsibility to meet the requirements on time.

The Senior Honors Thesis

The honors thesis is an extensive and substantial report of a project completed during the senior year, but it may be based in part on work performed earlier than this. To qualify for honors, a thesis should represent original thought or be an exceptional conceptualization of a problem. 

Thesis Expectations

The thesis must be organized to answer an original question that is answerable through the work done as part of the thesis project.

  • “Original” means that the question has not already been asked and answered in existing published work in the same manner as the proposed work.
  • “Answerable” means that the argument and evidence produced and presented by the student could reasonably be thought of as answering the question.

The thesis must effectively bring original evidence or argument to bear on the question that is being examined.  The thesis must provide a persuasive written argument explaining to the reader how the work addresses the question posed.

The evidence or argument may involve:

  • A collection of documents or observations that have not been used in previous scholarly work.
  • Fresh interpretations or analyses of existing and previously studied data.

The thesis must explain the public health relevance of the question it sets out to answer. It must also explain how the student's original work relates to and potentially contributes to existing academic work in public health.

2015 Honors Students

2015 Honors Students: Kristina Souders (Health Policy), Jiyoon Park (Health Policy), Alap Patel (Health, Behavior, and Society), Megan Suter (Epidemiology), and Soibhan Kelley (Bioethics)


Recently Completed Senior Research Honors Projects

Rohini Bhatia, “Mixed Methods in Public Health Intervention Studies: A Case Study from Ladakh Tobacco Control Project” (2013)

Daniel Cohn, “Evaluation of the Food Services Program in Rochester City School District” (2012)

Anisha Gundewar, "Sleeping Rough: An Ethnographic Analysis of the Unsheltered Chronic Homeless" (2014)

Soibhan Kelley, "An Ethical Analysis of Food Production and Distribution in the US" (2015)

Sara Rothenberg, “Access to Healthy Food in Low-Income Areas, Influenced by the Built Food Environment, and the Potential Association with Obesity Prevalence” (2013)

Hannah Sherry, “Healthcare Battles: The Establishment of the Veterans’ Healthcare System in the United States” (2013)

Lucas Slipski, "Out of Ammo: How the NRA Muzzle Public Health Science to Create a Gun Control Standoff" (2014)

Kristina Souders, "Supporting Long-Term Resident Health in Campus-Adjacent Neighborhoods" (2015)

Emily Vreeland, “Impact of U.S. Health Reform: A Consideration of Factors Impacting Access to Preventive Care Coverage” (2012)