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University Scholar Requirements

University Scholars are freed from two or more of their formal course requirements each semester in senior year in order to complete reading/research/creative projects of extensive and unusual breadth or depth. A faculty mentor together with a second reader will oversee the progress of the University Scholar. Since appointment as a University Scholar involves release from coursework, it is reserved for students of exceptional caliber and future academic and professional promise, who have previously demonstrated the motivation to undertake independent major research projects. A minimum GPA of 3.75 is required. Students seeking appointment as a University Scholar must apply to and be approved by the Honors Committee.

University Scholar Project: A Description

The University Scholar project should be ambitious, original and extensive in its conception and analysis. This may mean the discovery of new knowledge, the reinterpretation of standard methods, theories and assumptions, or the formulation of data produced from fresh investigations. University Scholars will have their work judged not only by a faculty mentor and a second reader, but in their oral examination, they will be expected to present their work to an audience that includes at least three recognized subject experts external to Saint Joseph’s. These individuals will be chosen by the University Scholar, in consultation with the faculty adviser and the second reader.

The University Scholar project should be the result of serious research, original thinking and a wide-ranging grasp of the context in which this research is conducted. The project itself may take many forms: traditional narrative/analysis, in-depth study of specific texts or themes, empirical research, practical applications or a creative/inventive endeavor. Students submitting a proposal for a University Scholar project should provide evidence of background knowledge and requisite skills, together with a letter of recommendation from their chosen faculty mentor, before they begin their work. During the course of their work, they will be expected to contact subject experts in their fields¬≠—both national and international—and to consult and discuss their findings with them. It is expected that the University Scholar project will make an important contribution to its field, and that it will form the basis of future graduate or professional work. The final result will be shared in an oral presentation, as well as in a written thesis, and should place the specific topic in a scholarly context and demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the most authoritative literature and research on the subject.

Length may vary according to each subject; however, it is expected that University Scholar Project will be in the range of 100-150 pages, independent of bibliography, and that they will be documented in accordance with the standards of the relevant discipline and include an abstract, title-page, table of contents, introduction, notes and bibliography. The final copy of the thesis should be clean, readable, and grammatically consistent and correct.

Procedures and Deadlines

All students electing to pursue University Scholar status must verify their eligibility with the Chair of the department in which the project is to be conducted and with the Honors Director no later than April 15 of their junior year. A GPA of 3.75 in the major is required, together with a concise ten-page outline (including bibliography) of their project and a letter of recommendation from their proposed faculty mentor. The faculty mentor, the Honors Director, and the appropriate department Chair will indicate their approval by signing the proposal no later than April 30th. Copies of this signed project description must then be filed with the Honors Director, the Chair of the appropriate department, and the Associate Dean of the appropriate college. Because these projects are very demanding, it is expected that students will begin reading in their area of research over the summer. In disciplines that require extensive lab work or creative expression, other forms of summer preparation may be required. Students should consult their faculty mentor for guidance.

By September 15th, each student must submit a University Scholar proposal contract, which can be obtained from the Honors Program. This form, which will outline the work load, general objectives and schedule of meetings to be held during the semester, should be signed and approved by their faculty mentor. By October 1st, each candidate should also select a second reader for the thesis, after consulting with their faculty mentor. The second reader should be from a different department, who has a compatible interest in the project. The second reader will serve to offer advice, criticism and suggestions throughout the process of the Senior Honors Thesis.

By December 15th, the University Scholar candidate should submit a first chapter of the completed project (or its equivalent) and a concise outline for the remaining work. The faculty mentor and the second reader will then write a preliminary summary of the work, indicating the level of progress. A first draft of the entire project must be presented to the mentor and the second reader for critical review by March 1st of the senior year.

By April 15th, the University Scholar candidate must submit a final draft to his/ her faculty mentor, and to organize an examination committee consisting of at least two additional faculty members, normally from the disciplines in which the research has been carried out. An oral presentation of the project to the examination committee, Honors Director or Associate Director, and three external subject experts must be scheduled before the end of the examination period. Announcements of the oral examination should be posted with the Honors Program and included in the appropriate edition of Hawkeye, so that interested members of the academic community may attend. The members of the examination committee are asked to sign a copy of the project, which will indicate that the student has passed the oral exam. The grade for the entire project will be determined by the faculty mentor. A copy of the signed, completed project be filed with the Honors Director and the appropriate department Chair before recognition can be given at graduation.