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Honors Handbook

Students graduating from Southwestern Adventist University's Honors Program show they have excelled academically, choosing to take coursework beyond the minimum. Honors students find a variety of benefits for being in the program:

Recognition. The designation "Honors Graduate" carries weight with graduate schools and employers. The Honors Graduate is immediately recognized for outstanding scholastic achievement beyond the minimum requirements.

Access. You may use "Honors Graduate" on resumes, cover letters, and letters of application. This designation opens doors in the working world which might otherwise have stayed closed.

Critical Thinking. Honors courses foster critical thinking skills, which benefit you no matter what your career goal.

Preparation. The Honors Thesis prepares you for the kind of challenging research and writing tasks you might find in graduate and professional schools or on the job. To compete with other schools' finest graduates, you must level the playing field.

Excellence. In choosing to participate in the Honors Program, you have chosen to distinguish yourself from other non-Honors students. The Honors Program will challenge you to bring out the best in yourself.

Community. Honors students attend several functions each semester, including plays, lectures, the ballet, and vespers programs designed to foster a sense of intellectual community.

Scholarship. Honors students taking 18 units any given semester while enrolled in an Honors course receive the Honors Scholarship, which covers the additional cost of the 18th unit.

Program Description

The Honors Program at Southwestern Adventist University is designed to foster an intellectually challenging environment and provide a richer educational experience for qualified students. This curriculum will explore the human search for an understanding of one's relationship to self, society, nature, and God.

Honors Courses

HNRS 104, Human Communication (3 hours)

This course emphasizes the theory and technique of effective oral communication through public speaking, group discussion, and oral interpretation. The class satisfies general education requirements for communication. Students taking this course will not receive credit for taking COMM 111, Fundamentals of Speech.

HNRS 204, Advanced American History, 1866-Present (3 hours)

This course provides a detailed study of American history from Reconstruction to the present, charting the United States' rise from a frontier nation to a world power. The course covers the turbulent days of post-Civil War Reconstruction and the settlement of the west, booming industrialism, Populism and Progressivism, the United States in World Wars I & II, the Cold War, and the distrust of the post-Watergate era. Students will become acquainted with trends in American historiography and practice the skills of historical interpretation and writing. The class satisfies general education requirements for history. It is required for history/social science majors. Students taking this course will not receive credit for taking HIST 112, American History, 1866-present.

Students will not receive Honors credit for both HNRS 204 and HNRS 205.

HNRS 205, Advanced Western Civilization, 1648-Present (3 hours)

This course covers the revolutionary transformation of Western Civilization from the seventeenth century to the present including the scientific, industrial and political revolutions, communism, imperialism, and world wars as well as the major intellectual and cultural developments. The class satisfies general education requirements for history. It is required for history/social science majors. Students taking this course will not receive credit for taking HIST 212, History of Western Civilization.

Students will not receive Honors credit for both HNRS 204 and HNRS 205.

HNRS 250, 450 Honors Seminar (1 unit)

Prerequisite: Permission of the Honors Committee. These courses, specifically designed for the Honors Program, cover a wide range of interests depending on the faculty member in charge. Recent Honors seminars have included Great Books (with an emphasis on human behavior and how to govern it), From Sitcom to Sickcom (a study of American values as expressed through the sitcom); Vietnam: American's Longest War; MTV: Beauty and the Beast. All these interdisciplinary courses emphasize critical thinking skills as well as their particular subject matter.

HNRS 304 Discovering the Universe (3 hours)

This course presents a study of modern and historical astronomy, what we know about the universe and how we know it. Topics include planets and the solar system, stellar evolution, galaxies and cosmology. The class satisfies general education requirements for a lab science. 
Students taking this course will not receive credit for taking PHYS 112, Introductory Astronomy. 
(2 hours lecture, 3 hours lab) 

HNRS 404 The Bible and Human Understanding (3 hours)

This course explores Biblical approaches to the human search for our relationship to self, society, nature, and God. The class satisfies general education requirements for a Bible-content course.

HNRS 480 Honors Thesis: (1-3 hours)

Prerequisite: Permission of the Honors committee and an acceptable thesis proposal. The student will work with a faculty advisor on a scholarly work of mutual interest. This course is open to Honors Students only. The course may be repeated up to 5 hours; 3 hours are required for Honors graduation.

HNRS 481 Honors Thesis Forum (1 unit)

Prerequisite or Co-requisite: HNRS 480.
The student will submit the honors thesis in publishable form and present it in an open forum.

Honors Thesis

The Honors Thesis, the capstone of the Honors Program, has three distinct elements: the thesis proposal, the thesis, and the thesis forum.


You should submit your Honors research proposal during the Spring semester of your junior year, or earlier, depending upon your major.

Students will follow the outline below:

  1. Discuss your idea with a faculty mentor in your major area. If you have compelling reasons to choose a research area outside of your major field (you might do research in your minor field, for example), you should seek the approval of the Honors Committee. Students who plan to do research involving humans must first receive permission from the Human Subjects Committee.

  2. Create a process schedule, noting all the major steps of your project. For example, you might include a timetable for several of the following: a) creating a bibliography, b) gathering sources, c) reading and taking notes, d) designing an experiment, e) performing research, f) constructing an apparatus g) acquiring data, h) writing your rough draft, and i) formatting your final draft. Your research project must be complete by April of your senior year.

  3. Have your faculty mentor sign your proposal application form (included in this packet).

  4. Make an appointment with the Honors Director to meet the Honors Committee. You will meet with the Honors Committee to discuss your proposal's strengths, weaknesses, and possible changes in direction or timetable.

  5. Students may register for HNRS 480, Honors Thesis, only if they have an approved research proposal on file in Honors Program office.

  6. Turn in your typed proposal to the Honors Office two days before your review date. (see the following two pages for the proposal form and a sample proposal).

Proposal Form

Sample Proposal

The Written Thesis

The thesis shows the student's ability to take part in the intellectual community of scholars. Generally, an Honors Thesis will be a written document, of 25-40 pages, detailing the conclusions of an extensive research project in the student's major field. The thesis in some fields (art or music, for example), may take a form--such as a recording or composition--other than a written document.

The student's faculty mentor recommends the grade for the thesis, which is also evaluated by the Honors Committee for final approval.

Each written thesis must conform to the standard documentation style in the field of research (MLA or APA style, for example). The document should be laser printed in duplicate on high quality, 100% cotton bond, acid free paper.

All Honors students must have begun research for the Honors Thesis no later than the Fall semester of their senior year. Some majors (biology, for instance) require an earlier beginning date, so check with your faculty mentor during the Fall semester of your junior year for further guidance.

The Thesis Forum

During the Spring semester of the student.s senior year, all Honors students will participate in the thesis forum. This event gives each student an opportunity to present verbally the results of their research.

All presentations should be 20-25 minutes long, which includes 5 minutes for a question and answer period. You may use visual and auditory aids. Alert the Honors Director that you'll need special equipment for your presentation.

Your presentation is scored by all Honors Committee members attending your presentation. They will use the following rubric (1 poor; 2 fair; 3 good; 4 above average; 5 excellent):


Enunciation and clarity



Deportment and Body Language



Soundness and quality of presentation








Your grade will be determined by your combined score:

A - 90-100%
B - 80-89%
C - 70-79%
D - 60-69%
F - below 60%