Emma using microscopeThe 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 tracks that allow students entry into its coursework at different points in their undergraduate careers. https://www.umass.edu/honors/curriculum. 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 who 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.

Departmental Honors is one way of completing the Advanced Scholarship portion of CHC. Departmental Honors provides opportunities for students to take enriched courses, mainly through colloquia, and to work directly with the faculty and their graduate students in laboratories on research projects.  

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 https://www.honors.umass.edu/. Honors students in our major 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.


1.  To participate in Departmental Honors, students must be members in good standing of
     CHC 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

2.  If you are already enrolled in CHC, then you should contact the VASCI Departmental Honors Director and let her know that you would like to enroll in Departmental Honors.  If you are not yet in CHC and would like to enroll in Departmental Honors, then you need to apply online here: https://www.umass.edu/honors/node/27549

Course Requirements for VASCI Department Honors:
                 1.   One ANIMLSCI Honors course any level*
                 2.   One ANIMLSCI Honors course at the 300-level or higher*
                 3.   ANIMLSCI 499Y “Honors Research”
                 4.   ANIMLSCI 499T “Honors Thesis”
                 5.   The minimum grade accepted for any departmental honors course is a “B”. 
    * The Veterinary and Animal Science Department will often accept related departments’    
    honors courses as substitutes for the ANSCI honors courses outlined above or graduate
. All substitutions must be vetted by the Departmental Honors Director before
    being accepted and sometimes require the further approval of the CHC.

Pre-Veterinary Science and Animal Science Honors Procedures

All Veterinary & Animal Sciences Departmental Honors students must register with and be a member of the Commonwealth Honors College (CHC).

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.  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.

B. 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 CHCwebsite:https://www.umass.edu/honors/curriculum/thesis/individual/499y
The proposal must be submitted through the CHC PATHS online system.

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.umass.edu/honors/curriculum/thesis/individual/499tp
A full thesis 499T 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 and other criteria as listed in the instructions for the proposal. The proposal is first presented to the thesis chair and the selected committee member for discussion prior to submitting online. Once submitted through CHC PATHS, the proposal is routed to the chair, then the co-chair and then to the Departmental Honors Director for further review.  Once all permissions have been obtained and the proposal deemed satisfactory by those individuals it is then routed to the Academic Review Panel at CHC where it needs to be reviewed BEFORE the student can be registered. This process may take more time than expected so be sure to submit the proposal for review in a timely manner. You will receive a Y at the end of the 499Y semester, which keeps the course out of the GPA calculation. The grade is awarded at the time of completion of 499T at which time the 499Y grade will also be awarded.

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 using CHC PATHS. 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

Additional information for Honors Students

Optional IE: Departmental Honors Thesis students have the opportunity to enroll in a 1-credit 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 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.

Honors Fellowships and Grants: All Departmental Honors students are encouraged to apply for a Research Assistant Fellowship which provides the student with a stipend to support research endeavors. Students actively engaged in thesis research are encouraged to apply for Honors Research Grants which provide money for required lab materials. Students are able to apply each semester for these awards. Deadlines and application information are relayed directly to CHC students through the weekly.