The Commonwealth Honors College (CHC) offers a variety of ways for students to graduate with CHC honors. Beginning with the Class of 2014 the CHC developed two tracksEmma using microscope that allow students entry into its coursework at different points in their undergraduate careers. Students who enter into CHC at the onset of or early in their undergraduate career are eligible to complete both the General Studies Honors track as well as the Advanced Scholarship track, while students that enter later in their careers, when many of their General Studies courses have already been completed, are eligible to complete the Advanced Scholarship portion of the CHC. The Departmental Honors program is one way of completing the Advanced Scholarship portion of CHC. Departmental Honors provides opportunities for students to take enriched courses and to work directly with the faculty and their graduate students in laboratories on research projects.  The Department works closely with the CHC to develop honors courses, colloquia and independent studies.  Honors colloquia have been appended to several courses and vary from year to year.  See each semester’s “Schedule of Courses” registration guide.  Most VASCI faculty members sponsor honors research and thesis options. This offers students an in-depth experience in an area of academic scholarship (i.e. research) and how it is conducted and reported. It is a valuable experience for advanced students who wish to extend their education beyond the classroom.

The CHC is the home of the honors experience on the UMass campus.  Students are basically enrolled in two programs, the CHC and the Department of Veterinary & Animal Sciences and meet the requirements of both for graduation.  The Veterinary & Animal Sciences Department works closely with the CHC to provide opportunities for personal enrichment through colloquia and research at the undergraduate level.  The colloquia provide opportunities for discussion with faculty in small groups. Research is conducted in labs, and other venues, to introduce students to intellectual inquiry through faculty-guided thesis projects.

Honors Designations on Diplomas

Please access this website for information regarding Honors Designations on Diplomas https://www.honors.umass.edu/honors.

Admission Requirements - Departmental Honors

  • To participate in Departmental Honors, students must be members in good standing of Commonwealth Honors College with the ability to complete 45 graded (not pass/fail) credits in residence (registered at UMass Amherst, not transferred) and maintain an overall 3.4 GPA
  • Students must meet with the Departmental Honors Coordinator to discuss requirements and departmental opportunities. If you are already enrolled in CHC then the Departmental Honors Coordinator will ask for some information and send the change of major request to CHC digitally. If you are not yet enrolled in CHC you will have to apply for departmental honors using the online application form that is found on this website https://www.honors.umass.edu/Departmentalhonors

Course Requirements for Departmental Honors

Completion of Commonwealth Honors College honors course requirements as specified on the student’s Commonwealth Honors College contract. The following honors courses are required unless accommodations are contracted in the student’s Commonwealth Honors College file:

  • one ANIMLSCI honors course any level
  • one ANIMLSCI honors course at the 300-level or higher
  • ANIMLSCI 499Y “Honors Research”
  • ANIMLSCI 499T “Honors Thesis”
  • The minimum grade accepted for any departmental honors course ia a “B”.
  • The Veterinary and Animal Sciences Department will often accept related departments’ honors courses as substitutes for the Animal Science honors courses outlined above or graduate courses. All substitutions must be vetted by the Department Honors Director before being accepted and sometimes require the further approval of the CHC.

Veterinary & Animal Sciences Honors Procedures

All Veterinary & Animal Sciences Honors Program students must register with and be a member of the Commonwealth Honors College.

  1. Junior year or earlier:
    a.  Select a faculty honors thesis advisor prior to the junior year. Begin working in the lab and undertake some library research to become familiar with the lab and the field of study.
    b.  Begin preparation of the thesis proposal and identify (with your thesis advisor) a research project. Some students begin work on a closely related project up to two years before the start of their thesis while others start during their junior year.
    c.  Enroll in 499Y in April or May of your Junior year. You must identify a proposal          topic, a research chair, selected reading and a date for the completion of your                499T proposal. Information regarding the Individually Contracted Thesis Form Part I/499Y and instructions for the proposal can be downloaded at the CHC website:  

    The proposal must be submitted through the CHC PATHS online system: https://honorsweb1.honors.umass.edu/chc-paths

2.  Senior year:
    a. Enroll in 499T by submitting the honors thesis proposal through CHC PATHS.           The due date is typically at the end of the semester prior to when it is to be completed (ie end of November for Spring semester). The contract and instructions for the Part II: 499T Honors Thesis Proposal are found at the CHC website: https://www.honors.umass.edu/capstone-experience-independent-capstone-proposal   A full thesis proposal is approximately 15 pages and consists of: a 5-10 page review of the relevant research literature, a discussion of the research project, a description of the methodology to be used and other criteria as written on the contract form. The proposal is first presented to the thesis chair and the selected committee member for discussion, review and signatures indicating approval. The proposal is then submitted  to the Departmental Honors Director for further review and a signature.  Once all signatures have been obtained and the proposal deemed satisfactory it is then submitted by the student to the CHC. This process may take more time than expected so be sure to get the proposal submitted for review in a timely manner. You will receive a Y at the end of the fall semester, which keeps the course out of the GPA calculation.  The grade is awarded at the time of completion of 499T in the spring.
    b.  Prepare and deliver an oral defense of your thesis to the Veterinary & Animal Sciences Department on Science Day, which is held prior to finals during the reading period in the spring semester.  Students are also encouraged to participate in the state sponsored Undergraduate Research Conference held annually at UMass and coordinated by the CHC.
    c.  Submit the final thesis and forms to the CHC by the graduation deadline. The department does not dictate the particular structure of the thesis however an Animal Science thesis usually consists of several sections including: a literature review (background), an introduction to the problem being studied, materials and methods, results, discussion, future studies and references. CHC does have particular guidelines and formatting needs for the final thesis; these can be found at https://www.honors.umass.edu/capstone/formatting and these must be adhered to in order for CHC to accept the document. At this point, all thesis need to be submitted in paper form as the trial electronic submission did not work as anticipated.

3.  Departmental Honors Thesis students Have the opportunity to enroll in Integrative Experience - Integrating Learning and Research - ANIML SCI 494TI The goal of this one credit seminar is to enhance your Integrative Experience course and Departmental Honors Thesis Experience by examining and applying your general education learning. This highly interactive seminar class is designed to use your general education acquired skills to more successfully participate in your thesis and to think more deeply about the impact general education courses have had on how you approach aspects of your individual capstone.  Real-world skills and issues will be implemented and discussed including: organizing a departmental “how to get involved with research” night, debating the ethics of embryonic stem cell research and learning how to deliver effective research presentations. This course is open only to students who are also enrolled in 499Y/499T and will be accepted as the University/Department Required IE in lieu of the 3 credit ANSCI IE (494GI) offered to all students.

4. All Departmental Honors students are encouraged to apply for a Research Assistant Fellowship which provides the student with a stipend to support to research endeavors. Students actively engaged in thesis research are encouraged to apply for Honors Research Grants which provide money for required lab materials. Deadlines and applications can be found at https://www.honors.umass.edu/research.