Undergraduate Departmental Honors

Departmental Honors is distinguished from “Undergraduate Honors” and the Capital Scholars Honors Program, each of which have their own requirements.  Each academic program may define the requirements for Departmental Honors involving three elements:

  • Course work or closure requirements
  • Independent, high-quality research/scholarly/creative work
  • Specific grade point average requirements


Students pursuing Departmental Honors in ENS will complete the same Undergraduate Capstone closure course as other majors. However, the Capstone project must be the student’s research/scholarly/creative (R/S/C) work, which will necessarily be more substantive than the projects pursued by students not seeking Departmental Honors.  Students must enroll in at least 1 credit of ENS 425 Undergraduate Research to document their R/S/C work.

Topics encompassed by environmental studies are broad, and student R/S/C works will similarly be diverse.  Student R/S/C work might take the form of discoveryintegrationapplication, or teaching. Students must present their results/products at a professional symposium or in a refereed medium before graduation.  Students will work directly with ENS faculty who will serve as the primary supervisor; if appropriate, other ENS faculty can assist.  Faculty supervisors will

  • Work collaboratively with students in developing and refining the R/S/C work
  • Advise the student regarding resources and/or course work needed to accomplish the R/S/C work
  • Advise the student regarding the Institutional Review Board, Institutional Committee for the Care and Use of Animals, and/or other units providing research oversight, if necessary for the particular R/S/C work
  • Read and critique the written component of the R/S/C work
  • Help the student find a forum for dissemination of the results; this may take the form of a professional symposium or publication in a refereed medium.

There are no a priori length minima or maxima for the written document that must be approved by the faculty supervisor; instead the length should be dictated by the topic.  Students should follow APA style unless there is a compelling reason the faculty supervisor requests another style (such as writing in the style of a particular journal where the manuscript will be submitted for publication).  The final written document must be approved by the faculty supervisor and the Undergraduate Capstone instructor; in the case where those positions are held by the same person, the department chair or designee will be the second approver.  This document must be approved before the week of final exams in the semester during which the student will graduate.

With the approval of the faculty supervisor, students may petition to apply up to four credits of ENS 425 Undergraduate Research based on their R/S/C work toward electives required for the major in Environmental Studies.  Those credits can be applied toward the total required number of upper division hours for a degree from UIS.  With an approved Individualized Course Title form, ENS 425 can be listed on the student’s transcripts with a more descriptive name representing the specific work being done.

To receive Departmental Honors students must graduate with a cumulative undergraduate, UIS, and ENS GPA of at least 3.5. Students may apply to the Department Honors program for provisional admission provided that each of those GPAs are at least 3.25 and it is mathematically possible to bring them to 3.5 by the time of graduation.


Students interested in pursuing Department Honors must work individually with faculty to identify a feasible R/S/C work.  An application must be completed and approved by the faculty supervisor and department chair; a copy of the application will be retained by the department and by the Office of Undergraduate Education.  Applications must be approved by 15 March of the spring before the Undergraduate Capstone is taken.  This allows at least one year to complete the research, including time to seek funding (if necessary) and prepare for presentation at a symposium or publication.  Send an email to ens@uis.edu to request an application for the Departmental Honors program.