- The Neuroscience Program follows the College guidelines with respect to minimum GPA for an Honors Thesis (a 3.0 GPA overall and a 3.2 GPA in the Neuroscience Program). However, students with a lower GPA may pursue a thesis as detailed here: https://registrar.lafayette.edu/additional-resources/honors-requirements/
- Eligible students may enroll in Honors only with the permission of the Chair of the Neuroscience Program.
- While not a requirement, it is recommended that students have engaged in research prior to attempting an Honors Thesis (see Research Opportunities).
- A grade of “A” on both semesters of an Honors Thesis is required for earning “Honors in Neuroscience”.
Schedule for Honors Thesis
Students may begin their Honors research during the Spring semester of their Junior year but more often the project is conducted during the senior year. During the first semester the student develops a research proposal and presents it in front of the Thesis Committee. During the second semester the student will complete the research, write the Thesis, and defend it in front of the Thesis Committee. Students whose work warrants an “A” grade both semesters will graduate with “Honors in Neuroscience” and this honor will be noted on their diploma and transcript.
The following is a general timeline for honors and when you should carry these tasks out. This schedule may be modified in consultation with your faculty mentor, except for the deadline for presentation of your proposal and thesis.
- In consultation with your faculty mentor, you must use your time judiciously to formalize your research plans. To ensure that you have adequate time to complete your research, you should draft your research proposal as quickly as possible.
- You need to compose your thesis committee. In Neuroscience, the thesis committee must include 1-The thesis advisor, 2-a faculty member in the Neuroscience program (Profs. Gabel, Hallock, Reynolds, Schettino, and Stawicki) and 3- a third faculty member from any department outside of Neuroscience. If your thesis advisor is NOT a member of the Neuroscience faculty, you must ensure that your thesis includes a Neuroscience-related component before seeking approval by the Neuroscience program chair.
- The thesis proposal consists of a written document which includes a detailed introduction, a clear and concise statement of the problem being investigated, details of the proposed experimental design and analysis, expected outcome, and a reference list reflecting the literature supporting the proposed thesis. In addition, the Honors candidate will present the proposal to the Thesis Committee. The presentation must occur by the end of finals week of the first semester, with the written proposal distributed to members of the Thesis Committee no later than one week prior to the presentation date. Students who do not fulfill these requirements will drop the Honors Thesis course for the spring semester.
- Based on the quality of your thesis proposal and presentation, the thesis committee will approve, approve with modifications, or decline the thesis proposal. The thesis committee will also assign you a grade for the first semester based on the quality of your proposal and presentation. Only students awarded an “A” will be allowed to continue on in Thesis for the second semester.
- Immediately upon final approval of your thesis proposal (if modifications were required), you will need to apply to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (if your project involves vertebrate animals) or the Institutional Review Board (if your project involves human participants). Research involving humans or vertebrate animals cannot be conducted without prior approval from the appropriate body.
Second Semester of Honors:
- The collection and analysis of your data must be a high priority during the first half of this semester. Unexpected difficulties and delays are the norm during this stage of scientific research. Care must be taken to give yourself enough time to overcome these obstacles. Concurrent with the data collection and analysis, you should be preparing the first draft of your honors thesis.
- A progress report will be sent to the thesis committee during the eighth or ninth week of the semester. The progress report should describe the plan for final data analysis, a brief description of the data outcomes and an explanation of any changes made to the approved proposal.
- A formal presentation and defense of your Thesis to your Thesis Committee will occur before the end of finals week with the final version of the thesis distributed to the Thesis Committee no later than one week prior to the presentation date.
- The presentation consists of a brief (approx. 30 minutes) overview of the methods, results, and significance of your results presented for a general audience. The presentation will be followed by questions from the Thesis Committee members. Following the defense the Thesis Committee will discuss your performance and vote on whether you have earned Honors in Neuroscience, or some grade less than an “A.” You will be informed immediately of the Thesis Committee’s decision.
- A final copy of the thesis, incorporating the revisions and/or corrections suggested by the thesis committee, is submitted to the chair of the neuroscience program prior to the end of the final examination period. A second final copy of the thesis is submitted to Skillman Library. Submission of an acceptable final thesis prior to the end of the final examination period completes the requirements for Honors in Neuroscience.