MSE Honors Requirements

Two three credit MSE junior or senior level core or elective classes converted to Honor’s classes (involves extra work as assigned by the instructor); Senior year first semester MSE independent study for three credits; Senior year second semester Honor’s Thesis with an MSE advisor.

The Honor’s Thesis must be different from the MSE Capstone project.

Honors in MSE

There are several benefits to students in the UConn honors program. These include:

  • Exclusive access to special course offerings, focusing on small group settings (‘honors core courses’). In some cases these courses also count towards content area requirements.
  • Opportunities to earn recognition for focused work on certain topics (honors conversions to normal courses).
  • Credits for directed research with an MSE or related faculty member (MSE 4989).
  • 3 credit honors thesis project during the senior year (MSE 4095).
  • Exclusive or preferential access to campus-wide competitive fellowships and (often for summer) research grants.
  • Special honors seminars, enrichment programs, and professional development opportunities.
  • Special honors academic advisors within the department.
  • Special honors thesis advisor, usually within MSE (but also sometimes faculty from other departments for suitably materials-related projects).
  • Special honors event for students and families during the senior year.
  • Special honors regalia to wear during graduation (assuming completion of requirements).
  • Sophomore Honors designation on your transcript (if requirements are met by the end of your 2nd year).
  • Graduation Honors Scholar designation on your transcript (if requirements are completed by graduation).

Honors Admissions

There are 2 pathways to admissions in honors.

  • Some students are identified before arriving on campus in their 1st year, based on excellent credentials from high school.
  • Other students who excel once at UConn, or prior to transferring here, may apply directly. This typically occurs either at the start of the 2nd semester of the frosh year (still allowing sophomore honors to be earned), or by the start of the junior year (for Graduation honors).

Honors Requirements

The comprehensive requirements for sophomore honors and the graduation honors scholar are designed to be as flexible as possible for students, to allow you to direct the extra opportunities towards your own interests. They encourage depth and breadth of knowledge, with specific requirements both within the department as well as in other majors.

For graduation honors, this must include 3 credits of work towards an honors thesis. This shows up in the transcript with a special designation identifying ‘Honors Thesis,’ as well as a 1-line description about the project. The honors project may be completed during the 1st or 2nd semesters of the senior year.

In advance of the culminating thesis project, most honors students first complete at least 3 credits of additional research. This also shows up in the transcript with a 1-line description about the project(s). Such undergraduate research may be completed anytime as an undergraduate student. Note that the 3 credits may be spread over more than 1 term.

Practically, honors students often earn many more research and course credits than the minimum as they become engaged in research and academics. Ideally this leads to 1st authorship on scientific publications, presentations at major societal conferences, paid research opportunities and/or summer jobs, etc.

Honors Advising

While all MSE students receive comprehensive advising throughout their undergraduate experience, all MSE honors students are assigned special advisors who are also familiar with the extra requirements of the honors program. Current honors advisors are:

  • Pamir Alpay
  • Rainer Hebert
  • Bryan Huey
  • Seok-Woo Lee

Honors Courses

The MSE department, like most university departments, does not offer courses or sections that are exclusively for honors students. To satisfy the requisite 1 honors course per term (on average), MSE students have 3 options:

  • Essentially designate an MSE course as an honors course. This requires agreement near the start of the term with the instructor, including submission of paperwork to the honors office.
  • Take an honors course in another department that satisfies basic engineering requirements (chemistry, math, physics, etc.) or MSE technical electives.
  • Honors core courses are always (and often exclusively) available to honors students. At present ENGR 2243 (Nanoscience and Society) is the only such core course with moderate materials related content.

Course Designations for honors thesis (and preliminary undergraduate research).
At present all honors theses use MSE4095 as the course designator.
All other undergraduate research uses MSE 4989.
See the department office to determine the appropriate section (project-advisor dependent), to assign the title (with approval from your research advisor), and to complete necessary paperwork at the start of the relevant term. Up to 3 credits of these MSE courses can count towards Professional Electives within the MSE B.S. requirements.

Honors Thesis

Copies of the completed honors thesis must be submitted to the department office, and the honors office, before final submission. It must be different from the MSE Capstone project.

Honors thesis projects are conducted either with MSE faculty, or in certain circumstances with other project advisors for sufficiently materials-related work (given agreement in advance between the student, the thesis advisor, and the honors advisor).

Most thesis projects are conducted in an experimental or computational lab, and involve a literature review of related work, hands-on research, analysis, participation and presentations at group meetings, etc. Less commonly, students may opt to perform an expansive literature review instead essentially as an advanced independent study project.

The form of the submitted honors thesis itself depends on what is most appropriate for the project, the student’s interests and goals, and the expectations of the project advisor. This should be agreed upon with the project advisor at the start of the term during which the honors credits will be earned. Common honors thesis approaches include:

  • Authoring or substantially contributing as a co-author to 1 or more manuscripts for peer-reviewed scientific journals. This is predicated on significant contributions to the research reported in the publication.
  • Creating a comprehensive manual outlining procedures for fabrication, processing, measurement, analysis, calculation, etc. that is demonstrably beneficial to future researchers.
  • Contributing to, preparing, and/or giving a presentation (oral, or poster) for a conference about your work.
  • Preparation of one or more posters outlining the motivation, literature survey, procedures, results, and conclusions based on honors lab work.
  • A ~50 page report reviewing scientific literature on a certain topic, ultimately concluding in suggestions for future research directions and/or applications of such work.

As with all student work, proper referencing and attributions are mandatory.

Program Administration

The MSE faculty are eager to work with students in completing their honors requirements. But, all requirements for honors are certified by the honors program. Therefore, for procedural questions, contact the honors program directly. For specifics about honors courses, your thesis, or advising, contact the MSE main office or your honors advisor.