Prospective Honors Students
All incoming freshman and transfer students are eligible to apply for admission to the Schreyer Honors College (SHC) at Penn State.
Students in the SHC are, first and foremost, Penn State students and experience everything the University has to offer. There are distinct opportunities afforded to Schreyer Scholars, however, some of which include:
- Academic enrichment including honors courses, exclusive study abroad programs, and research placements
- Dedicated honors housing in two residence halls that establish a vibrant setting for learning and living.
- The distinction of graduating with honors from Penn State upon successful completion of the SHC’s academic requirements.
- Financial Support: Incoming first-year Scholars receive a $4,500 Academic Excellence Scholarship. Additional financial support includes grants for travel, research, and internships throughout the student’s academic career.
Admission into the honors program is limited and requires the completion of an SHC application in addition to the Penn State Undergraduate Admissions Application (you will find a link to the Honors College application through the general Penn State application). The SHC’s overall enrollment of 1,800 Scholars represents just five percent of Penn State’s undergraduate student population.
For more information about the Schreyer Honor’s College including FAQs, admission requirements, and information on how to apply, please visit the Schreyer Honors College website.
Current Honors Students
All honors students are required to complete an undergraduate thesis before graduation. Students should initiate their thesis by the second semester of junior year; however, it is preferable to have started research before that time. The thesis topic is at the student’s discretion and should be something that the student finds personally engaging.
Selecting a Thesis
Selecting an undergraduate thesis topic is the responsibility of the student and allows for a great degree of versatility. The student should select a topic that is personally appealing and allows for new exploration and discovery. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when weighing possibilities for the thesis.
- Discover faculty research within the department: There are a number of ways to select a thesis topic. Many students begin by analyzing current faculty research and identifying a potential adviser based on his or her research interests. Once the potential adviser is contacted, her or she will be able to provide thesis recommendations and connect the student with other honors students who have already selected thesis topics (both past and present).
- Explore possibilities outside biomedical engineering: It is possible to pursue an honors designation outside of the department of biomedical engineering. Talk to you thesis adviser about additional possibilities.
Thesis Credit as Part of Honors Curriculum
Students can receive up to 6 honors credits for thesis research/writing. The usual mechanism for this will be 3 credits of BME 494H in the fall semester leading to development of a written thesis draft. In the spring semester, 3 credits of BME 494H culminate in writing, review, and defense of the thesis.
Thesis Credit as Part of the Biomedical Engineering B.S. Curriculum
Three credits of research will satisfy a required elective. Only three credits of research based credits (496 or 494H) can be used toward degree requirements.
Timeline for Thesis Work
To produce an excellent thesis, students should plan to begin research as soon as possible and work to arrange full-time research over the summer(s) months. By the end of their junior year, honors students are required to submit a 1-2 page thesis proposal to the Schreyer Honors College and form a thesis committee. At this time, each student planning to submit a thesis should identify a project topic, and thesis committee. The committee will consist of three faculty members: the project supervisor (generally, but not necessarily biomedical engineering faculty), the Biomedical Engineering Honors Adviser, and another faculty member in any department who has expertise in this area. At least two members of the committee must be primary biomedical engineering faculty.
Requirements for the Thesis Proposal
One semester before finishing the written report, students must write and submit a thesis draft. The purpose of this exercise is to consolidate progress-to-date and clearly propose the research/design work for the final semester. The thesis draft should include background and literature reviews, experimental methods and results to date.
Requirements for Thesis Completion
The preferred report format for the undergraduate honors thesis is that of a masters thesis (guidelines are available at the Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Information page). A complete and proofread thesis is due to committee members by April 1 and a final version incorporating grammar and technical suggestions from the committee is due to SHC roughly three weeks before the end of classes. The student must also provide two final versions of the thesis, one to the committee members and the other to the biomedical engineering department undergraduate staff assistant in 206 Hallowell 206. Department copies will be filed.
If the thesis work has been published or submitted to a journal, the published version can be submitted as the honors project. However, if the journal article has multiple authors, the student must clearly state what portion of the project he/she performed and what the relationship was with the collaborators on the project. The student must have participated in the writing of the journal article in order to receive thesis credit.
Students must also do an oral presentation/defense of their thesis. The format is a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation followed by questions from the committee. The presentation is open to the public, but the questioning session by the committee is limited to the student and committee. At this time, the committee will give the student comments on the written portion of the thesis which are to be incorporated into the final draft.
Policy on Developing Internship and Co-op Research into Honors Theses
Senior honors theses in biomedical engineering are generally carried out in laboratories on campus. It is possible to develop research performed on summer internships or co-ops into a senior honors thesis, but it requires preparation before the internship or co-op and development of the thesis by the student in their senior year.
The honors thesis involves an open-ended project that the student develops in collaboration with his or her adviser. The first requirement in developing an internship or co-op into a thesis is to make sure the work is not proprietary and the company or lab where the work is conducted provides explicit permission that the work is able to be included in the thesis. The second requirement is that the student carry out independent research as opposed to just carrying out student tasks; it is the student’s responsibility for taking charge of the project. Carrying out defined work tasks and writing a description of the activity is not sufficient. The third requirement is that students develop a thesis during their senior year under the supervision of an adviser in biomedical engineering or another department at Penn State. The adviser will help the student develop their work into a coherent thesis and help guide the development of the project.
Students interested in incorporating their co-op or internship experience into an honors thesis are encouraged to plan ahead. Contact your adviser with additional questions.