Tischer scholars introduction on stage

Departmental Honors Handbook

Departmental Honors Projects Overview 

Departmental honors projects give qualified students, Christine P. Tischer Scholars, the opportunity to engage in extended independent work in their major field(s). Admission to the program is recognition of academic achievement and potential. It also implies a commitment to complete scholarly work as a culmination of their course of study.  

Honors projects allow students to delve into an area of their major subject(s) more deeply than is typical in regular courses and to see more clearly the relationship between specialization and breadth. The process offers students the opportunity to experience intellectual excitement and risk taking, the challenge of unanswered questions, the joy of pursuit and discovery, as well as a sense of accomplishment. The experience of conducting an independent project has potential value in any specialized work that students may do after Hood. 

Exact project schedules vary widely across discipline and project. Students should work with their adviser early in their project to establish the schedule that best suits their project. This schedule should be shared with committee members as soon as possible.  

Please note there are several deadlines that cannot be changed: 

  • Completed drafts must be given to all committee members before the public presentations. 

  • Students must present their research orally on the designated day, including students completing projects on non-traditional timelines. 

  • Uploading to MD-SOAR and providing a final copy to the advisor must be completed by the date indicated. 

9/19/2023: Advisers must provide a syllabus to the student, committee members, and the Honors office  (honors@hood.edu). If committee members are added after this date, the syllabus must be sent to the committee members within one week of their agreement to be on the student’s committee. 

9/19/2023: Attend Departmental Honors Student Orientation Meeting from 1-2 PM in Blazer Hall room 112. Students must attend unless they are excused by the Honors Director(s). Advisers and committee members are welcome to attend, but they are not required to do so. Lunch will be served. 

10/19/2023: Turn in your information form and schedule.           

  • Students should turn in the information form about their project to the Honors Program Office by 5:00 PM. The form asks for adviser name, committee member names, working title, and student contact information. The form is linked here and available on the Tischer Blackboard page as well. Note that many students adjust their project titles as they work on their projects. Please send any adjustments to information on the form to the Honors office electronically (honors@hood.edu) as soon as possible. This helps to make sure that the information listed online and printed in the program for the presentations is accurate. 

  • Students must email an electronic copy of their project completion schedule that has been agreed upon with their adviser to the Honors office (honors@hood.edu) and their committee members.  

12/12/2023: Seniors graduating in December must turn in their projects by this date.  

4/1/2024: This is the last day to convert from 499 to 375 if adequate progress is not being made or the project will not be completed. Notify Honors director(s) at honors@hood.edu for conversion. 

4/14/2024 Students must create their account on the MD-SOAR website. Email Toby Peterson at peterson@hood.edu with any questions.

4/15/2024: SPIRES. Students must present their work orally to the Hood College community and the public. Be sure to attend the reception to follow to be recognized by the Provost and the President.

4/25/2024: By 4:00 PM, students should upload one copy of their project to the MD-SOAR electronic archive and provide one copy of the project to the adviser in the adviser’s preferred format. Requests for extensions will not be granted except under extraordinary circumstances. Please discuss any such requests with the Honors Director(s) as soon as possible.  


Candidates for Departmental Honors are selected by their major department from members of the junior class who have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above overall and who have a GPAof 3.5 or above in their major. However, not all students meeting the minimum grade point average requirements will be invited. Students should discuss more specific departmental requirements and procedures with their major department. Students who are absent from Hood College during their junior year (e.g., study abroad) may be invited by their major department when their performance indicates that they should be considered for Departmental Honors. 

Chair & Major Department

The Department, through its Chair, invites students for Departmental Honors. The Registrar’s office aids the Honors Program office in tracking students who have accepted the invitation. The Department establishes departmental procedures to enable students to find an appropriate project adviser and sets expectations as well as grading standards for projects within the Department.  

Interdepartmental majors: The student's major adviser functions as the Department Chair, and the student's committee functions as the Department. The student must register for 499 in an existing discipline; this is usually the discipline of the major emphasis of the project. 

Double majors: A student majoring in two disciplines may be invited for Departmental Honors in one, both, or neither major. A student invited by both majors may complete two Departmental Honors projects, one in each major. In some cases, a student invited by both majors may be allowed, at the discretion of both departments, to complete a single Departmental Honors project for credit in both majors. 


The Departmental Honors adviser is responsible for working with the student to develop a project completion schedule, supervising the project as well as grading and granting credit for the project. The adviser should be aware of the student's progress throughout the project and work with the student to set reasonable and helpful deadlines early in the project. The adviser should function as a supportive mentor but must also make expectations clear. Advisers should respond to the student or committee members within 72 business hours when contacted. Advisers should advise the student on their oral presentation and attend the presentations. At the opening ceremony, advisers will be introduced. 

The adviser must provide the student, committee members, and the Honors office (honors@hood.edu) with a syllabus for the 499 course. An example is linked here. The following SLOs for research/creative scholarship must be included: 

  1. Demonstrate the ability to conduct research, properly cite sources/data, and use sources/data to support a central thesis/argument in formal academic writing 
  2. Demonstrate the ability to present research and/or findings in oral, visual, creative, and/or non-verbal ways 


The student is responsible for the project, keeping in touch with their adviser and responding within 72 business hours to contact from the adviser or committee members. They are responsible for keeping the Honors Program office informed of any changes in status, topic, title, adviser, committee members, or contact information. Changes should be sent to the Honors office (honors@hood.edu). The Honors Director(s) are available to help, as needed.  

Committee Members 

Committee members are resources for the student as they complete their project. Committee members should give feedback to the student and adviser throughout the project according to the schedule established by the adviser and student and that is provided to the committee members. Committee members must promptly let the adviser and student know if they think there are major problems with the student’s project. It is recommended that the adviser consult with committee members in the grading of the final work. However, the adviser assigns the final grade for the student’s work. The involvement of committee members varies widely across projects. Committee members should respond to students within 72 business hours after contact from their student or the student’s adviser. Committee members should attend the student's oral presentation.  

Honors Program Office

The Honors Program office administers all college-wide aspects of Departmental Honors, including record keeping, holding meetings and workshops for Tischer Scholars, scheduling oral presentations, verifying finished projects have been uploaded to MD-SOAR, and distributing Commencement regalia associated with the program.   

Below is a typical ordering of procedures for Departmental Honors Projects. However, the order of these steps may vary across discipline and project.  

1. The Registrar sends each Department Chair a list of students eligible for Departmental Honors. 

2. The Department invites selected students for Departmental Honors Projects based on their internal procedures.  

3. The Department notifies the Honors Program Office of the names of students invited.  

4. The Registrar’s office aids in determining students who have accepted the invitation.   

5. Students accepting the invitation must register for three credits of 499 in their major for each semester of their senior year at the regular Registration time. Students typically register for 499A in the fall and 499B in the spring. Students completing projects on alternative timelines should consult with their Departmental Honors adviser, academic adviser, and Honors Director(s) for advice regarding registration. 

  • Students pursuing double-majors completing a single project for credit in both majors will register for a cross-listed 499 reflecting both majors (for example, AR/HS).  

  • Students completing interdepartmental majors must register for 499 in an existing discipline; this is usually the discipline in which the major emphasis of the project will lie. 

6. The student must arrange for a faculty member in their major to be their Departmental Honors adviser. In extraordinary circumstances (i.e., for a student doing their research at Ft. Detrick), a non-faculty adviser may be selected with the approval of the Department Chair and Honors Director(s). If the student wishes to integrate material from two or more disciplines, they may select a second adviser. 

7. The student will find two faculty members to join the departmental adviser as "committee members". These individuals will help the student with their project. One of these committee members must be from outside the student's major field. (For a double major, the adviser and committee members must represent both majors.) Though the student will work primarily with the adviser, they should also seek advice from the other committee members as appropriate. Students seeking committee members without faculty appointments must receive approval from their Departmental Honors adviser and the Honors Director(s). 

8. The student and adviser should agree on a subject for the project. They should keep in mind the resources available at Hood and the time available for the project. The subject—and especially the title—may evolve over time, but the student should have a working title and basic working outline at an early stage. 

9. The student must keep the Honors Program office informed of changes in their subject, title, committee members, contact information, etc. Such changes should be e-mailed to the Honors office (honors@hood.edu). While the adviser is usually the person to turn to for advice, the Honors Program Directors are always available for consultation about procedures or problems that arise as well as encouragement.  

10. The adviser and student should reach a clear understanding of the schedule and other requirements for the project. Advisors must provide the student, committee members, and Honors office (honors@hood.edu) with a 499 syllabus conveying expectations for the work involved in the project. A timeline with deadlines should be submitted electronically to the Honors office (honors@hood.edu) as well as each committee member. In many fields, projects are completed in small portions, with sections being regularly submitted to the adviser and/or other committee members as appropriate. Advisers are urged to require draft sections during the first semester of the project, if appropriate. The student's conscientiousness in meeting deadlines may be considered in the grade of the overall project.  

11. The student and adviser should be in frequent contact. Frequency will vary by project; however, once a week is often appropriate. The student has the primary responsibility for contacting the adviser when necessary. If contacted, students, advisers, and committee members should respond within 72 business hours.  

12. The student should submit sections and/or drafts according to the agreed-upon schedule. All committee members should receive a copy of the revised full project draft prior to the public oral presentations. 

13. The adviser and committee members have an important responsibility as the work is in progress. If the work seems unlikely to meet the standards for Honors (typically a grade of B- or greater), they should inform the student and the Honors Director so that the student may convert 499 into Independent Study in the department of their Departmental Honors project (375) by the deadline.  

14. The student must make a public presentation of their research at the designated day and time in the spring semester. Further information about this event will be provided in a workshop. 

15. The student must submit one copy of the project to the MD-SOAR Archive and submit a second copy to the adviser in the adviser’s preferred format. Instructions for uploading to MD-SOAR can be found here.  

16. Once the project is uploaded to MD-SOAR, The Beneficial-Hodson Library will add it to the library catalog to make it more discoverable. The catalog record will use the keywords and metadata provided during the upload process. Additionally, the catalog record will be linked to the record on MD-SOAR. Access can be adjusted during upload. The library can provide more information the students about how this process works. Embargoing is also possible; if needed, the student should discuss with the library.    

17. Marketing publicizes the Departmental Honors projects and presentations as well as often creates a video for the Hood College website to showcase Departmental Honors projects. If asked, you are expected to meet with Marketing to facilitate this. Although you may opt out of appearing in the final video, your participation may be a valuable tool in your job search or when seeking graduate or professional school admission.  

18. If the student is awarded Departmental Honors through successful completion of the program, the Honors Program office will provide a red cord for Commencement. 

Students meet basic expenses for their Departmental Honors projects themselves. The Honors Program office does not print, copy, etc. for individual Tischer Scholars. Students in need should consult their advisers about what help may be available at the departmental level. The Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society sometimes awards competitive grants to Departmental Honors students to assist with extraordinary research expenses. When available, such funds will be advertised via the Tischer Blackboard site.  

Tischer scholars are required to give an oral public presentation on their project on the day scheduled for these presentations. Students are required to attend the entire event. Students will present their work in smaller "sessions" running concurrently in different rooms. In each session, two to four students will present their work and answer questions 

Each presentation should last about 12-15 minutes (time to be confirmed at March workshop).  After all presentations are done, students will convene in the reception location to be congratulated by the President and Provost of the college and to be introduced along with their advisers.

Below are some basic notes for a successful presentation: 

  1. With the adviser, students decide what to convey and how. The method of presentation varies among disciplines. Students should pick the modality appropriate for their discipline. In some disciplines, it is typical to read a portion of the project directly from a text. In other disciplines, informal discussions are the norm. Regardless of format, students need a concise summary. Although PowerPoints are not required, many use them. Technological help can be obtained from Hood IT.  

  1. Once the information to be presented is known, students should practice delivering the information through practice presentations. Students should practice in front of a variety of individuals to gain feedback as often as necessary to feel prepared. In some departments, students may be required to do practice runs before the faculty adviser, committee members, and other department members. Students should check with their adviser for more information.  

  1. During practice, consider: 

  • Does the talk make sense to a general audience without specialized knowledge? 

  • Are there ways to sharpen the presentation or to frame it more clearly?   

  • Is the presentation too long or too short?  

  • Does the presentation feel rushed or too slow? 

  • If using technology, is it working smoothly?  

In general, students should follow the formatting conventions of their discipline. Please note the following: 

  • The title page should conform to the examples linked here and must include the title of the work, your name, the department sponsoring the project, and the date of publication. 

  • All pages should be numbered consecutively throughout the work, including your bibliography, illustrations, appendices, etc. 

  • Improper formatting may cause your work to be rejected until it is reformatted to conform to the guidelines.  

  • The student must submit one copy of the project to the MD-SOAR Archive and submit a second copy to the adviser in the adviser’s preferred format. Instructions for uploading to MD-SOAR can be found here


At the end of the first semester, a grade for 499A will be submitted by the adviser. At the conclusion of the second semester, a grade for 499B will be submitted by the adviser. The adviser is responsible for determining grades in consultation with the other committee members. Ideally, the grades will reflect the committee’s consensus. Some departments may want the grade to reflect a departmental consensus. 

There is no guarantee or implied agreement that a completed Departmental Honors or Independent Study project will receive an "A" grade. Advisers should make their expectations clear from the beginning of the project and throughout the project. Advisers should evaluate their student's performance on that basis and apprise students of their standing throughout the project. The full range of grades is available for 499. Students are expected to ask for clarification regarding expectations and their project’s standing. 

Withdrawing from Departmental Honors

Occasionally, a student will find themselves unable to complete their project to a level deserving Departmental Honors. It is also, more rarely, the case that the work in progress is judged not to be of Honors (above B-) quality.  

A student may drop or withdraw from Departmental Honors according to the usual rules for dropping or withdrawing from courses. The regular course withdrawal form from the Registrar’s office is used for this change.

A student wishing to convert departmental honors (499) to an independent study (375) prior to the stated conversion deadline should follow these steps:

  • talk with their departmental honors adviser and request their permission to convert;
  • email Honors@hood.edu to request permission from the Honors directors;
  • finally, email registrar@hood.edu to request the conversion.

The adviser's decision as to whether the work is of Honors quality is normally made based on the first full draft submitted by the student. The adviser, in consultation with other members of the committee, will notify the student and the Honors Director(s) if the work is not of Honors quality. Prior to the stated conversion deadline, the adviser may recommend that the student convert to 375 in the department that the project is housed in. Students considering withdrawing from 499, should discuss their situation with their advisor and the Honors Director(s) as soon as possible.  

If the student is a member of the Honors Program and is using the Departmental Honors project to meet one of their Honors Program requirements, a good faith effort towards completing a Departmental Honors Project will typically count towards the upper-level Honors requirements. However, this remains at the discretion of the Honors Director(s). Students considering withdrawing should discuss their situation with their advisor and the Honors Director(s) as soon as possible to determine any impact on completion of the Honors Program. Students may not change 499A or 499B into HON 375 without the express permission of the Honors Director(s), which will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances and with specific reasons for calling the Independent Study an Honors course. 

The best way to avoid any of these situations is for the student and adviser to meet regularly, for the student to work diligently, for the advisor to provide appropriate expectations from the beginning of the project, and for the student to turn in draft sections of work regularly.  

Academic Credit

Departmental Honors work carries six hours of academic credit under the course number 499 in the student's major. For example, a psychology major completing an honors project would enroll in PSY 499A and 499B. The achievement of Departmental Honors becomes part of a student's permanent record. Students who have completed the program successfully are awarded "Departmental Honors" at Commencement.  

Students who accept their department’s invitation to complete an honors project normally register for 499 in their major for two regular academic semesters for three credits per semester (typically, 499A in fall, 499B in spring). The sequence may be fall-spring or spring-fall. Most students use the summer to begin their research and define their topic. However, alternative timelines (registering for six credits during one semester, registering for three credits in the summer, etc.) are possible under extraordinary circumstances (spending the fall semester abroad, student teaching in the spring, etc.) and should be discussed with the Departmental Honors adviser, academic adviser, Chair of the major department and Honors Director(s) as soon as possible. Alternative timelines are typically not available to students with on-campus schedules during the fall and spring semesters who do not have other extenuating circumstances. All students (including December graduates) must participate in the oral presentations in the spring. 

Awarding of Departmental Honors

To earn Departmental Honors, a student must (1) earn a grade of “B-” or above for 499A and 499B and (2) maintain a "B" (3.0) average in their major subject, exclusive of the Honors project, during the senior year. A student earning a grade lower than B- for either 499A or 499B will no longer be considered a Tischer Scholar.