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Many E&S students choose to do honors research mentored by a faculty member.  This choice for independent work appeals particularly to those students intending to pursue an advanced graduate or professional degree.  Obtaining a research honors degree requires a student to write a thesis based on original, independent research that generates novel findings.  Students learn how to design and carry out research under the direct supervision and guidance of a faculty member or research associate (thesis advisor). Students can work within the E&S Honors program or a parallel program associated with the faculty member’s department. CALS students who successfully complete this process will graduate with Distinction in Research on their diploma.  Latin Honors in CALS is awarded based on GPA. Information about the CALS requirements for research honors and the approved program areas (i.e., disciplines) can be found on the CALS Research Honors Program page. Students in the College of Arts & Sciences are awarded Latin Honors for successful completion of their thesis. 

Helpful websites:

CALS Undergraduate Research Opportunities provides information about identifying a research topic, conferring with a faculty member, and undergraduate funding opportunities. A&S students may find helpful the overview of the research process in the college and be inspired by the breadth of humanities research ongoing in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Overview of the Honors Program in Environment & Sustainability 

Most students in the program engage in research for multiple years to learn the iterative nature of research.   Students should meet on a regular basis with their thesis advisor who guides and approves the thesis work.  The research findings are presented in a written thesis. Although the format is not prescribed, the thesis usually consists of a short introduction, relevant materials and methods, a concise presentation of the meaningful data, a discussion, and the student’s interpretation of the conclusions. Students also will present the findings of their research, either orally or via a poster, in a special symposium in late May.

Thesis Timeline:

Current Juniors

  1. Identify a thesis advisor and research topic. Many students start collecting data for their senior thesis during the summer before their senior year or even in junior year.
  2. File an informal application with the E&S Program by the end of spring semester. The application includes i) a short description of the research and ii) advisor information.

Current Seniors

  1. Sixth week of fall semester: Submit formal application via the Experience Cornell application portal.
  2. April (mid): Submit electronic copy of the thesis to the thesis advisor and the E&S honors program.   The honors chair will arrange for a review of the thesis by a faculty reader.
  3. May (~first week): Receive faculty reader comments from the E&S honors program.
  4. May (mid-month): Submit final electronic copy of the thesis to the E&S honors program.
  5. Friday before Graduation: Participate in and present the findings of your research, either orally or via a poster, in an event for parents, faculty, and peers.

Students may volunteer to publish their original honors research in eCommons, the Cornell University Library's digital repository, as long as doing so does not interfere with other plans, such as patenting or publishing in a professional journal. Additionally, in recognition of student honors research, CALS prints a booklet of honors theses abstracts (CALS Research Honors Abstracts) each year. Students are responsible for submitting their formatted abstracts in accordance with abstract publication instructions. Thesis examples are available on the web at eCommons and each program area chair may also be able to provide relevant examples.