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Department of Geography Honors Program

The Geography Honors Program provides an opportunity for students who have shown excellence in the classroom and academic promise to complete an original research project. The Honors Program will allow students to grow intellectually and to increase their research and writing skills. Completing a thesis is challenging and demanding, but it will increase a student’s potential as a graduate student and/or to seek employment. This program is for Geography majors and is not affiliated with the Honors Tutorial College. 


Guidelines for Faculty and Students


Purpose: The Honors Program should allow students who have shown excellence in the classroom and academic promise to complete a research project/thesis which requires original research and significant writing. By requiring students to apply geographic concepts and theories to a research problem, the Honors Program should provide the opportunity for students to grow intellectually and to increase their research and writing skills. Working in consultation with a faculty committee (of two) is critical to the success of the program, both to create an intellectual environment and to provide constructive criticism and feedback. The experience should also increase a student’s potential as a graduate student and/or to seek employment. Students who plan to pursue graduate work in Geography are encouraged to meet the eligibility requirements of the program and to apply for admission to the program.

Eligibility and Selection: Eligible students must have completed 110 credit hours and maintain a minimum overall and major GPA of 3.5 to be considered. Exceptions can be made for students with a 3.3 overall and major GPA if the student’s supervisor and/or advisor strongly recommends the student and has justification for the student’s admission. Students are expected to apply during the spring quarter of their junior year (or 9th quarter of enrollment) and no later than the beginning of the fall quarter (or beginning of their 10th quarter of enrollment) of their senior year. The timing is to ensure that students have three entire quarters to complete the thesis/project. Interested students must complete an application form available from the Department Honors Coordinator (DHC) and should consult with the DHC before applying. Students must identify a full-time faculty member who is willing to serve as his/her supervisor and meet with this faculty member to discuss the application and proposed project/thesis. The student must provide a written description of the proposed thesis/project and bot the thesis supervisor and second committee member must sign the application. 

Types of Projects: The primary requirement of the Honors Thesis is that each student complete a geographic thesis or project that requires significant research and writing. This may be completed by writing a 30-50 page thesis that has received approval from the student’s committee. For projects that require substantial technical work (cartography, remote sensing, GIS), the written component of the thesis may be somewhat shorter, but nonetheless an analytic written component is required. Creative projects that promote the purpose of this program may also be considered. Students are expected to enroll in Geography 499H [Geography Honors Thesis] for three quarters and may earn no more than 15 hours total. Students may enroll for only two quarters during their senior year, but may earn no more than 10 hours in any quarter. Under exceptional circumstances students may enroll in Geography 499H during their 9th quarter of enrollment (end of their junior year). The supervisor may encourage an Honors student enroll in a graduate seminar, but no coursework besides Geography 499H is required. The Honor’s thesis can satisfy the University Tier III requirement, as long as a minimum of 4 hours of 499H is completed. 

Format: The thesis should follow the format required by the committee supervisor.  

Evaluation and Oversight: The Honors student must have a committee of at least two faculty members; the supervisor must be Geography Group One Faculty. It is encouraged that upon completion of the thesis/project students present their work to the committee or to the department as part of a colloquium; the supervisor has the discretion to make a presentation a requirement. Whether or not the student presents the thesis/project, all members of the committee must approve of the final thesis/project, and upon approval will submit a signed form to the Honors Committee Coordinator. Students will be given a grade of “PR” until the thesis is completed at which time a letter grade will be assigned. Students must maintain a 3.3 GPA (overall and major) during their enrollment in the Honors Program; falling below a 3.3 GPA is grounds for termination from the program. If the committee determines that the student is not making satisfactory progress towards completion of the thesis/project, the student may be terminated from the program. Unsatisfactory progress means failing to complete assigned work or meeting deadlines for data collection, chapter completion, or simply completing work of insufficient quality. If a student either voluntarily withdraws from the program or he/she dropped from the program, the student will not receive credit for Geography 499H courses; the PRs will remain on the student’s transcript.

Funding: When necessary, students are encouraged to apply for funding through the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fund (PURF). The committee is expected to encourage and advice students on applying for the PURF.

Submission and Deadlines: Please speak to the Department Honor’s Coordinator for specific deadlines.  

Criteria for Awarding Departmental Honors:

  • Maintain the required overall and major GPA. A 3.5 GPA is standard, but exceptions can be made for students with a 3.3 GPA.
  • Meet committee expectations for satisfactory progress. Expectations, including appropriate deadlines, must be conveyed to the student by the committee.
  • Complete an original thesis/project of approximately 30-50 pages which requires original research and significant writing. The thesis/project must approved and signed by the thesis committee.
  • Deliver one copy of the signed thesis to the supervisor and two copies to the Departmental Honors Coordinator.


Interested students should:

  1. Review the above guidelines to know exactly what is expected.
  2. Consult with your supervisor to discuss the research project.
  3. Meet with the Departmental Honors Coordinator (Dr. Amy Lynch) about how to proceed.
  4. Complete the application (Word or PDF), have your supervisor read it, approve it, and sign it.
  5. Turn it into the Department Honors Coordinator.
  6. Wait no more than two weeks for an answer!



For more information, contact:


Dr. Amy Lynch

Honors Coordinator

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