The Honors Capstone Project is the culminating experience of your academic career. Independent, substantive, faculty-mentored work is the hallmark of an honors education. It’s a defining marker that shows you are ready to transition to a life and career of purpose, resourcefulness, and love of learning. 

There are two pathways for completing the Honors Capstone Project.

The Honors Thesis is the appropriate choice for most students and is the standard for academic achievement in the Honors College. The thesis is a three-semester research or creative experience culminating in a substantial written thesis or creative product. You will work under the guidance of a faculty advisor and a faculty committee.

Most likely, you will undertake your thesis within your major, which is recommended. However, it is possible to pursue a project in a related field, such as a minor, or to work on an interdisciplinary project through the Honors College rather than an academic department. 

Completion of the Honors Thesis confers the graduation recognition With Distinction in your academic discipline on your diploma and transcript. 

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The Senior Portfolio Project (SPP) is an online ePortfolio which collects, contextualizes, and showcases your academic and co-curricular accomplishments. Through the use of artifacts and reflective writing, you create a cohesive narrative of your work, skills, interests, and goals. The SPP is a two-semester sequence that takes place during your final year. This pathway is for select students for whom an ePortfolio represents a demonstrably better option in terms of intrinsic motivation, academic and co-curricular interests, and professional development.

Visit here to learn more about the differences—and benefits—of the Honors Thesis and Senior Portfolio Project.

Find out more about each project pathway.

Honors Project for Non-Minor Students

Current JMU students who are not in the Honors Scholars Program may pursue independent scholarship leading to the completion of an Honors Capstone Project in their chosen major or minor. These students will declare their interest in completing a thesis or portfolio in their respective major or minor and must obtain Honors College permission and submit the final project to the Honors College.

Upon approval of the major or minor academic unit and the Honors College a graduation designation with distinction in the major or minor is awarded to students completing this project with a grade of "B" or better.  

For more information, contact Honors Advising.

Planning for the Honors Capstone Project

Early in your junior year, you should meet with the Director of Honors Advising to discuss your options, brainstorm ideas, and start making preparations for your Honors Capstone Project. In spring of junior year, you must declare your intent to pursue an Honors Thesis or a Senior Portfolio project.

The Honors Thesis will be completed during your final three semesters at JMU. You will receive six credits for the project by enrolling in three consecutive 499 courses in the academic unit in which you are completing the project. (For example, Biology majors enroll in BIO 499A, B, and C; English majors enroll in ENG 499A, B, and C.) Students pursuing interdisciplinary projects through the Honors College enroll in an HON 499 sequence.

Some departments count the six credits of 499 towards the major. In this case, these courses double count towards the major and the Honors minor. They will essentially replace classes in your major that you would otherwise have to take. Other departments do not count these credits towards the major. In this case, the six credits of 499 count towards the Honors minor only. To find out how 499 credits will count for you, consult Honors project departmental guidelines for your major or contact the Honors faculty liaison in your major. 

For detailed information, visit the Honors Thesis Handbook.

The Senior Portfolio Project is completed during your final two semesters at JMU. You will enroll in HON 401 and 402 for a total of three credits. In order to satisfy the required six credits of the Honors Capstone Project, you should work with the Director of Honors Advising and the Director of Student Engagement to either:

  1. Identify a project-based course within your major or a related field that can be applied to the Honors project. This course could potentially double count with a major or minor.
  2. Find an additional 3-credit Honors course to take.

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