The Honors Program in Health and Human Kinetics (HHK) gives senior HHK majors the opportunity to refine and extend the skills they have developed throughout their time at Ohio Wesleyan under the close supervision of an HHK faculty member. Graduating with honors requires an independent project over the course of a year, an oral exam on the project, and a comprehensive exam in the HHK department during the senior spring semester. An honors project is a great way to prepare undergraduate students for the rigor of graduate school.


The honors program is open to HHK majors who have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00 and a departmental GPA of at least 3.5 after the fall semester, junior year.  If the student does not have the grade point averages specified above, honors projects could still be accomplished through the support of his or her major department and having successfully petitioned with the Academic Policy Committee (APC).

Process and Deadlines

All honors projects will involve two semesters of work, for which the student can earn up to two units of independent study credits (490).  (These credits may NOT be used to fulfill the requirements for Graduation with University Honors.)  The major department has the option of requiring the student to take specific courses or modifying existing departmental courses or requirements for students seeking Graduation with Departmental Honors.  All students who wish to apply for the HHK honors program must submit completed honors proposals, with the formal written approval of a faculty advisor, by these deadlines:

  • Students who are on campus during the spring semester of their junior year must submit completed proposals by the twelfth week of that year.
  • Students who are studying away during the spring semester of their junior year must correspond with their faculty supervisor through necessary means to meet the above deadlines prior to their return that year.

To apply for the program, the student should obtain the appropriate forms from the Office of Academic Affairs and, in consultation with the supervising professor, submit the completed forms to the Dean of Academic Affairs.  Completed applications should reach the Dean’s office no later than the twelfth week in the fall semester of the student’s junior year for the Junior Cycle, and no later than the twelfth week in the spring semester of the student’s junior year for the Senior Cycle.

We encourage all interested students, especially those who plan to be off campus junior year, to begin identifying a potential advisor and developing their project as early as possible, so that they may more comfortably meet the proposal deadline.

At least a month before the applicable deadline—preferably, several months before—students interested in applying for the honors program should discuss their plans with the faculty member who would make a likely advisor. To prepare for this discussion, students should generate a short description of the research or creative project they wish to pursue.

Once a faculty advisor has agreed to supervise their project, students compose a formal honors proposal consisting of: an introduction to the topic and description of the project and a reference list of primary and secondary materials. (A full description of the proposal is below.) Students should revise the proposal as frequently and thoroughly as the faculty advisor suggests before submitting the proposal to the department chair. Every honors proposal must be accompanied by a formal agreement from the prospective faculty advisor to supervise the project if it is approved.

Course Credit, Workload, and Project Length

Students generally devote at least two units to their Honors Project, one in the fall and one in the spring of their senior year. Most often, students register for a full-unit Directed Readings course (HHK 491) in the fall, and a full-unit Independent Study course (HHK 490) in the spring, with their project advisor for both semesters of the senior year.

Most honors projects end up consisting of 20-40 pages in length, not including the reference list, figures or tables. Shorter and longer theses can also make sense, depending on topic and approach. (However longer does not always mean better.)

Role of Honors Faculty Advisor

A faculty member in the department must formally advise every honors project. (Under unusual circumstances, and only at the discretion of the department chair, HHK majors may conduct honors projects supervised by faculty members from other departments.) Students may not conduct an honors project approved by another department and gain credit for it in HHK.

The faculty advisor will help the student:

  • Develop and submit the honors proposal,
  • Work through the process of writing a large-scale literary investigation or creative project,
  • Plan, conduct, and refine methods of research and writing, and
  • Facilitate communication with other faculty readers on the honors committee.

The Proposal

The proposal is a significant part of the project and needs to be fully developed. All proposals should consist of approximately 500-750 words (not including the reference list) and should include: (1) a narrative description of the proposed project (2) research questions to be examined (3) methodology and theoretical framework (4) significance of the argument (5) a clear statement of the rationale and goals of the final project and (6) an extensive reference list of peer-reviewed articles.

Students drafting honors proposals should study the sample proposals that the Department provides.

The Written Exam

The student must also pass a comprehensive exam, which will include written and oral components.  The chairperson of the department will be responsible for administering the written exam.  The written exam must be completed before the end of the fifth week of the spring semester of the senior year.  The department chairperson will inform the Examining Committee that the student has successfully passed the written exam.  No later than one week before the end of classes, the Examining Committee must certify to the Dean of Academic Affairs and to the Registrar that the student has successfully passed the comprehensive exam

The Honors Committee and Defense

The student’s project must include a written report suitable for permanent inclusion in the library.  The student must submit the completed project to an Examining Committee no later than one month before the end of classes during the fall semester of the senior year (Junior Cycle) or one month before the end of classes during the spring semester of the senior year (Senior Cycle).  The Dean of Academic Affairs will appoint the Examining Committee after consulting the supervising professor.  The Committee will consist of four faculty members - two from the major department, one from a cognate department where appropriate, and one from a department not related to the major.  After the oral examination on the project, a bound copy of the report and an abstract must be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs; the report will then be forwarded to the library.

The defense generally lasts 60 to 90 minutes. Usually, the student first delivers a brief description of the project and a narrative about its origins and development, then responds to questions about the project from the committee members. Immediately after the defense, the committee members confer to decide whether to grant the project Honors and then, also immediately, inform the student of the outcome.

Possible outcomes of the defense include:

  • Honors granted with no revisions,
  • Honors granted with revisions to be completed by the deadline for submission of complete honors projects to the office of Academic Affairs
  • Honors not granted. Note that the awarding or withholding of honors is separate from the evaluation of the project itself, which will be graded by the advisor.