Earning University Honors in the Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences


What is the Honors Program?

University Honors is a distinction earned by students who complete a set of requirements which are designed to give breadth and depth to the educational experience at Brigham Young University.  Graduating with University Honors takes commitment to a level of excellence which generally exceeds that of the general student body.  The Honors study program is designed to mimic the experience of a traditional liberal arts education within the environment of a large university.  Honors students strengthen their educational experience by immersing themselves in the works of the great masters of science, literature, art, theatre, film and music.  They excel in the classroom even as they take challenging courses which probe deeply into the ideas and experiences which have helped to shape the western world.  They experience the true meaning of Christian discipleship as they serve within the community.  Finally, they demonstrate their commitment to academic excellence by engaging in scholarly research which results in the formulation of a defensible thesis.  Although graduating with University Honors takes additional effort and time, it can greatly enrich your educational experience at Brigham Young University.

Why should I graduate with University Honors?

In addition to the enrichment of your educational experience, the University Honors distinction adds value to your degree.  Many Plant and Animal Science students will seek admission to graduate and professional schools following their graduation from Brigham Young University.  Admission committees at these schools evaluate students on the quality of their undergraduate educational experiences including their breadth and depth.  Graduating with University Honors can make the difference between acceptance at an institution of excellence and one of lesser distinction, or not being accepted at all.  The honors distinction tells committee members that a student is committed to a pattern of excellence, encouraging them to support the student for admission.

What are the requirements for graduating with University Honors?

Specific requirements can be found in the current Undergraduate Catalog or at the Honors Program website.  The information below is offered to help you effectively plan your education so that you can meet both the honors program and your major program requirements.
Advanced Languages.  To earn university honors you need to complete two semesters of  foreign language study and one course from Math 112, 112H, 113, 113H, 119, Stat 221, 221H, 321, or Phil 305.  The foreign language requirement does extend beyond the normal requirements for department majors, although it is recommended that Landscape Management majors take three semesters of Spanish language which would fulfill the advanced language requirement.  The Honors math requirement can be met for all majors in the department as each has a requirement for either Math 112, 119 or Stat 221.

Honors curriculum.  You must complete 22 credit hours selected from honors courses and honors sections of department courses.  There are certain limitations to this requirement which can be found in the Honors Program section of the Undergraduate Catalog or on the Honors Program website.  Department courses that may meet both the honors program and your major program requirements include Math 112H, Econ 110H, MMBiol 221H and Stat 221H.  Enrolling in Math 112H or Stat 221H will meet this requirement and the math requirement for all of the majors in the department.

Great Works.  The great works requirement is described in detail in the Undergraduate Catalog and on the Honors Program website.   Under new requirements to be adopted in 2007, students must have 12 experiences in each of six categories (music, theatre, film, literature, art and science) and write a reflection on two of the experiences from each category.  The newly-added Great Leaps in Science category requirements can be easily met by students through participation in the activities of their science coursework.  This makes completion of the Great Works requirement easier for science students than it was prior to the program change.

Thesis Requirement.  The thesis requirement can be met by participating in a mentored learning experience in any of the departmental laboratories.  Mentored learning courses are either required or recommended for all of the majors in the department.  Your thesis advisor should be chosen from among the department faculty based on your research interest.  The department honors coordinator can help you identify a thesis advisor if you are unsure of whom you should ask.  You need to have a commitment from a faculty member at least one year prior to the date that you plan to complete and defend your thesis.  Scientific research takes time and you may experience setbacks that delay completion of your project.  The sooner that you can start your project, the more likely it is that you will be able to complete it in time for graduation.  Specific requirements and suggestions for writing an honors thesis in the Department of Plant and Animal Sciences are described below.

Defending the thesis.

The format for defending a thesis in the Department of Plant and Animal Sciences is a PowerPoint presentation and question and answer session of at least 30 minutes, which is open to the public, followed by a specific question and answer session with only the student and the committee present.  The total length of the defense should be approximately 60 minutes.  The presentation is an oral summary of your thesis that follows the same format as the written thesis.  You should describe background information, discuss your experimental design, and present your results and your conclusions.  Describe methodologies when appropriate but avoid lengthy descriptions of your experiments.  This is your chance to tell your story and generally the most interesting parts are the results and conclusions, not the experimental details.  You may invite others (family, friends, fellow students, etc.) to your presentation and if you wish it can be openly advertised.  The defense will be attended by your advisor, a faculty referee from within the department and a representative from the honors administration.  After you have presented your thesis you should expect to answer questions from them about your project and your experience in the honors program.  They will decide if your thesis is acceptable to meet the requirement for graduation with honors.  They can recommend that it passes or passes with qualification, meaning that some revisions are needed before it can be submitted to the honors office for binding.  They may also recommend recess if they feel that substantial revisions to the thesis are needed and a second defense is required.

Congratulations!

You have graduated with University Honors from Brigham Young University.  Your hard work and dedication has led you through a rich experience that adds value to your undergraduate degree.  Faculty and administration in the Department of Plant and Animal Sciences want you to succeed and will do all we can to help you meet the requirements for graduating with honors.  We know that students who graduate with the honors distinction will represent the department and university well throughout their lives.