Highly motivated CALS students may choose to challenge and distinguish themselves by joining the CALS Honors Program. CALS Honors students choose from two paths – Honors in Research or Honors in Major. In either path, students carry out independent research culminating in a Senior Honors Thesis.
Why join the CALS Honors Program?
- Challenge yourself in the classroom and beyond and set yourself apart
- Develop and carry out an independent research project culminating in an Honors Thesis
- Hone your critical thinking and problem solving skills beyond the classroom
- Form a collaborative relationship with a CALS faculty member
- Join a cohort with other CALS Honors students interested in research
- Take Honors seminars to enhance your experience in the lab
- Graduate with Honors
Honors in Research
Students engage in the university’s and CALS’ great research tradition through the completion of two research projects: an introductory project and a senior thesis project. A faculty mentor oversees their research efforts and supports their progression through the program. In addition to the hands-on research experience, students enroll in coursework directed at furthering their knowledge in quality and ethical scientific discovery.
Honors in Major
Honors in the Major offers CALS students an advanced program of study within a major field and closely related disciplines. In this path, students complete a set of courses with Honors credits and complete a Senior Honors Thesis under the mentorship of a faculty member.
Did you know?
CALS Honors students complete a Senior Honors Thesis with the mentorship of a faculty member
CALS students are in the CALS Honors Program annually
CALS Honors students will receive an Honors designation on their transcript upon successful completion of the program
CALS Honors in Research students take specialized seminar courses designed to enrich their experience in the Honors Program
BS ’17, Microbiology, Honors in Research
Sam Schmitz is analyzing water samples collected at Africa’s Lake Tanganyika by UW–Madison limnologist Peter McIntyre and his team. The lake’s depth (4,820 feet) and relative calmness discourage water layers from mixing, and oxygen is scarce. But life perseveres, even thrives, in these conditions.
Using DNA sequencing, Schmitz has found that the deepest depths of the lake are home to incredibly diverse microbial communities. He and his fellow researchers have already identified numerous unclassified bacteria.
“The microbiome of the lake has not yet been thoroughly studied, so the lake may hold many more unique, undiscovered bacteria,” says Schmitz—a revelation that amazes him, given how much is known about other ecosystems. These same microbes, he says, may drive the processes that sustain life in the lake’s depths.
New first-year students admitted to CALS are invited to apply for admission to the CALS Honors Program by completing the application that includes a statement of why you are interested in pursuing the CALS Honors Program and how the program will contribute to your academic and career goals. New first-year students will automatically be enrolled in Honors in Research, but may switch to Honors in Major after meeting with an academic advisor.
Transfer students and continuing CALS students are also invited to apply for the CALS Honors Program by completing the application if they have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25. Transfer and continuing students may apply directly for Honors in Research or Honors in Major (after meeting with the major advisor).
CALS students are encouraged to apply for the Honors Program as soon as they are interested, which might even be the summer before their first year. The sooner students enter the Honors Program the more engagement and opportunities will be available to them in the CALS Honors Program.
There are many faculty members enthusiastic about mentoring undergraduate students in research – especially students in the CALS Honors Programs. There are also many resources to assist with how to find a faculty mentor including first-year seminar courses like QuickStart (INTER-AG 140) and the Introductory CALS Honors Seminar (INTER-AG 288).
Students choose to join the option, Honors in Research or Honors in Major, that best fits their goals. However, students can change which option they are pursuing if their goals change.
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