Honors in Public Health
To be considered for honors in Public Health, students must have an in-major GPA of at least 3.20 at the end of their seventh semester, complete a two-semester Independent Study project, author a thesis document, and defend their work in an oral exam. The project must include an original argument that is placed in the context of other scholarship. An award of honors will be made by the examining committee for projects that demonstrate originality, intellectual engagement and demonstration of depth of understanding of the topic.
The following guidelines are Public Health Program policy regarding the award of honors in Public Health:
• To be considered for honors, a student must have a GPA of at least 3.20 in specified courses in the major after the fall of their senior year. GPA will be calculated based on courses taken at F&M that fall within major requirements (Public Health-Biology Track: all in-major courses; Public Health- Government Track: all in-major courses; Dual-major: Public Health Program-component required courses; Special Studies: Public Health Program-component required courses)
• Program honors are granted for two full semesters of independent research; honors will not be granted for one-semester research projects except under extraordinary circumstances. Students may combine one semester of research and a full-time summer research experience with mentorship by an F&M professor.
• The student must submit a progress report at the end of the first research period.
• As early as possible in the second semester, the Project Advisor will help the student decide whether to present the project for honors, encouraging promising projects and discouraging those that do not promise to show a high standard of academic achievement or who face some other challenges that make successful completion of honors unlikely.
• Honors defense committees are formed well in advance of the defense so that members have enough time to evaluate the project and student progress, and (ultimately) to thoroughly review the final paper.
• The defense is publicized and open to the public. Typically, honors defenses are held during Finals Week in the semester the independent study research is completed.
• Committees should have 3-5 members in addition to the advisor. At least one member must be from outside the Public Health Program. The advisor is not a voting member of the committee.
Honors candidates will defend their thesis before the examining committee during the period specified by the College. The honors defense involves a presentation and an oral defense of the research findings and their implications. Candidates for honors in Public Health will be examined on their thesis topic and are expected to be conversant with all aspects of their study. Honors is awarded for excellent quality work, for initiative and enterprise in the performance of research, for an excellent thesis and presentation, and for a significant understanding of the research results and their implications.
The defense procedure typically takes place in the following order:
• During Finals Week, the honors candidate meets with members of his/her committee for the honors defense. The time allowed for the defense in its entirety shall not exceed two hours.
• After a presentation during with the students presents (without interruption by any in attendance) their research, committee members, and other in attendance, ask questions. The specific format of the question & answer portion of the defense will be agreed upon prior to the student’s presentation and will be administered by the Project Advisor. Although the advisor is present, they do not participate in the questioning portion of the defense and the student should not defer to the advisor for any answers or questions.
• The advisor will ask the honors candidate to leave the room when all members of the committee are satisfied; the honors candidate will remain nearby but out of hearing range of the committee discussion.
• The committee discusses quality of the paper, the presentation and the defense in order to reach a decision on whether or not to recommend the student for honors in Public Health; the advisor is present but does not participate in the discussion unless asked for information.
• A formal vote is taken; the advisor does not vote.
• The committee may require or suggest that changes be made to the paper before honors is granted and/or before the paper is sent to the College Archives and stored in the Program records.
• After a decision is reached, the advisor informs the honors candidate of the decision and the nature of the critiques of their work.
• If the Committee called for no revisions, the Project Advisor delivers the appropriate paper work to the Department Chair. If revisions are required, the Project Advisor meets with the student, advising them what is required, and reviews the project after the student completes the stipulated revisions.
• After required revisions are completed to the satisfaction of the Project Advisor and the committee, the Advisor submits the required paperwork to the Program Director. Students do not qualify for honors until the Director has received notification of completion of the revisions and submitted the appropriate paperwork to the Registrar.
• Successful honors candidates will submit one unbound copy of the final revised thesis to the College Archives and one unbound copy to the Program. These copies will become part of the permanent collections of the College and the Program. Instructions for formatting and archiving the honors thesis may be found at http://library.fandm.edu/archives/pdf/honorsconsentform.pdf