Honors Program Requirements

Application Requirements and Procedures

An undergraduate wishing to enroll in the honors program must have completed a minimum of 55 credits, at least 30 while at Cornell. Additionally, the student must have a cumulative Cornell GPA of 3.0 or higher at the time of entry, unless otherwise noted by a particular program.

Interested students must submit a written application and thesis proposal early in the first semester of their senior year; however, they are encouraged to make arrangements and discuss research ideas with a faculty member during the second semester of their junior year. Students are required to submit applications and thesis proposals to the appropriate office in accordance with their program area procedures and deadlines (view by clicking the program area links in the left sidebar). Knowing the deadlines and submission procedures for a particular program area is the student’s responsibility.

Application submission

To complete the application form, signatures of approval are required in the following order: faculty research mentor, academic advisor, and research honors program area chair. Once the college registrar verifies each student’s GPA, the CALS Research Honors Program Committee gives final approval of all qualified applicants, officially enrolling them in the honors program. Additional requirements for application and completion of the honors program are specified by each program area.

Honors Degree Requirements

Students enrolled in the honors program may earn credits for their research by enrolling in an independent research course (required by some program areas).  Funding opportunities are also available.

Students are required to present their research in the form of an oral presentation or poster session. Some departments have a seminar series during which honors presentations may be given; the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board (CURB) Forum is another possible venue for presentations.  Students should discuss presentation options with their faculty mentors.

In addition to a presentation, successful completion of the honors program requires a research report, written in the style of a master’s thesis or scholarly journal article. Students may volunteer to publish their original honors research at eCommons Cornell University Library, as long as doing so does not interfere with other plans, such as patenting or publishing in a professional journal. Additionally, in recognition of student honors research, CALS prints a booklet of honors theses abstracts (CALS Research Honors Abstracts) each year. Students are responsible for submitting their formatted abstracts in accordance with abstract publication instructions. Thesis examples can be found on the web by searching for "thesis" at Each program area chair may also be able to provide relevant examples.

Unless otherwise indicated within individual program area descriptions, theses should be submitted to the research program committee no later than four weeks before the end of classes during the semester in which the student expects to graduate.

Students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences wishing to participate in the Research Honors Program are not eligible for “distinction in research” by participating in a program offered by another college or administrative unit.

The research honors committee for each program area then recommends to the college registrar those students who qualify for honors. Only those who maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 and complete all of their honor requirements will be graduated with “distinction in research.”