Research Coursework

Getting Course Credit for Honors Research/Thesis and Upper-division Honors Programs at UCI
Most honors students get course credit of some kind for the work they do on their thesis. This makes sense because a good thesis can easily require 200-300 hours or work, i.e., 5-10 hours a week during the academic year. Students choose to enroll in either an upper-division, school/major specific honors program, or in independent study courses (usually 199) with their faculty advisor. Please note that Campuswide Honors does not require students complete a thesis in their declared major; you can do your research/thesis in any field at UCI that is interesting to you. However, depending on the discipline and your preparedness, it may not always be possible to do research outside your major (for example, if you wish to work with the creative writing faculty to write a novel for your thesis, but have limited creative writing experience/completed course work at UCI, then this might not be an appropriate choice for you, and you will have difficulty finding an approved faculty advisor). Furthermore, if you plan to participate in a school/major-specific honors program, you will most likely need to do research/thesis in your school/major.

Upper-division honors programs
UCI offers upper-division, school/major-specific honors programs for almost all majors. Honors students are strongly encouraged to consider completing the appropriate upper-division honors program in their school/major as well as Campuswide Honors. When you submit a copy of the final, approved thesis to Campuswide Honors from a school/major-specific honors program, it will automatically be accepted as meeting the research/thesis requirements for Honors. Please note that you must turn in a copy of your school/major-specific honors thesis to the Honors Office by the appropriate deadline, including all supporting paperwork required by Campuswide Honors. Most upper-division, school/major-specific honors programs require a research experience and completion of an honors thesis/project/report prior to graduation. Individual program descriptions and requirements are included in the General Catalogue sections of each academic unit, and additional information is available through the appropriate academic advising/student affairs office as well as online. The Division of Undergraduate Education also maintains a list of school/major honors programs, including their faculty directors and staff contacts.Most schools have also created at least one course in their upper-division honors program curriculum that will satisfy the upper-division writing requirement. However, there are a few exceptions (for example, ICS and some of the arts disciplines do NOT have a required research/thesis course that has been approved for upper-division writing), so be sure to double check with your major advisor to determine what will be the best way for you to satisfy the upper-division writing requirement.Some of these upper-division, school/major-specific honors programs have application processes and deadlines that occur before senior year, minimum GPA requirements, and/or required coursework that could begin sophomore or junior year, so PLAN AHEAD and investigate these options as early as freshman year, when you put together your honors course plan.Students who are certified as completing both Campuswide Honors and their school/major-specific honors program will receive the University Honors notation on their final UCI transcript.

Independent study
Students who decide not to complete an upper-division, school/major-specific honors program will need to work with their faculty advisor to determine the appropriate way to get credit for the work they are doing, set goals and deadlines, agree on expectations, establish standards and a method for evaluation, etc. Students in this case are STRONGLY encouraged to consider enrolling in an independent study course (often 199) for 1-5 units (depending on the amount of time that will be spent weekly doing research) for a letter grade or Pass/Not Pass. Most schools offer this course option. Students will need to work with their advisor to determine what is appropriate in their individual situation as well as the process for enrolling.A partial list of campus courses (including both independent study and school/major honors programs) can be found in List of Possible Research/Thesis Courses. Additionally, the Honors Director occasionally leads a research/thesis seminar (Uni Studies H176A/C, 2 units, Pass/Not Pass, Fall/Spring) course for honors students not participating in an upper-division, school/major specific honors program. Please note that honors research/thesis seminar does not count towards the research requirement, but it intended to supplement the research already being done by students. Contact the Honors Office for more information about this class as well as for authorization to enroll.

Other options
Students who don’t enroll in independent study courses or upper-division honors programs should still do the same amount of research work and be held to the same standard as students who were doing research for a grade in a class.Please note that essays, assignments, group projects, etc. completed in the normal course of earning credit for a typical upper-division class are not usually acceptable honors thesis projects. However, the thesis may expand upon research or ideas initiated as a part of a class.