Honors Project Ideas

Ideas for project-based honors courses

Check out suggestions to help you create your honors project. While these projects may have been completed by previous honors students, they are offered here only to help you design a project that can be tailored to your individual interests and learning goals, and should be adapted to fit the specific course and course level.


  • Through interviews and other forms of primary research, explore Native land use in our region as you seek answers to these questions: How has land use changed for Native people, especially in modern times? What impact did projects like the Kinzua Dam have on land use? Do people still have access to sacred sites, traditional foods, and medicinal plants? How does this change their physical, spiritual, and mental health and their perceptions of wellness and illness? What does this do for their perceptions of community and identity?
  • Through interviews and other forms of primary research, choose another culture and compare and contrast how it treats people who are transsexual or transgendered, as compared to the United States. Are there rituals to move people from one sex/gender category to another? What place is occupied by “trans”people in these cultures? How do we cope in the United States? Why is this significant? What are the consequences?


  • Explore how the visual arts in general or a particular medium that is the focus of the course (graphic design, painting, ceramics, photography, etc.) has been used to convey the messages of a particular societal issue (racism, poverty, LGBTQ concerns, the environment). Conduct an interview with at least one artist who has communicated through art. Create an original work of art that reflects your particular message.


  • Select one immunological disease and study it in-depth including reading and interpreting primary literature and reviewing articles. Identify a technological approach that could be used to create a treatment strategy and identify the potential pitfalls associated with the technology as well as the ethical issues that may surface.
  • Engage in an internship with a certified anesthesiologist that allows you to 1) observe various techniques and procedures performed by a certified anesthesiologist, 2) calculate medication doses for patients (simulated), 3) Develop a plan for time management under the tight time requirements for addressing the needs of multiple patients, and 4) become aware of the many medications used in the field of anesthesiology and their purposes and potential interactions with other medications and with each other.
  • Focusing on the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, Audubon, Canticle Farm, or the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, conduct interviews and other forms of primary source research to seek answers to these questions: What are some of the major environmental issues these groups are trying to address? What challenges are unique to our region? How do those issues give us insight to our negative impact on the environment? You can consider issues such as pollution, waste, farm/lawn runoff, soil depletion, habitat destruction, the balance of “uses” in land management, disappearing wildlife and plants, the ethical question of whether plants and animals have the “right” to occupy land and remain unmolested, undeveloped, etc.
  • Plan a “locovore” food banquet, using only foods that are grown locally and seasonally appropriate OR design a plan for eating locally year round. This project may consider the cost of growing and consuming food by examining both the obvious costs and the hidden costs of farming and distribution. Other topics could include farm subsidies, worker wages and health care, issues of transportation in a rural community, and costs or benefits to the consumer, including health. Other environmental factors to consider could be pesticide usage vs. organic forming and water usage issues. Projects should consider obstacles and identify possible solutions.
  • The student will complete four case studies that focus on four specific disease states including background information on the disease state, general nutrition and medical recommendations for the disease state, and specific individualized nutrition recommendations for the patient in the case study using appropriate calculations such as Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) using given anthropometric values, the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR) for Macronutrients, other age appropriate Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI’s) for nutrients involved in the disease state, as well as physical activity recommendations as appropriate. The project should draw upon at least two of the disciplines represented in the class (nutrition, biology, chemistry, wellness, anatomy and physiology, life cycle, and physical activity), though the project can, of course, include information from other disciplines as well.
  • Honors projects may be linked to local naturalists, foresters, field biologists, organic farmers, or others; involve the development of botanical inventories at key wetlands, forests, meadows, or other sites; provide special assistance with our Science Center green roof or JCC’s Tree Campus USA program, involve research into critical parasites of trees such as the emerald ash borer and beech blight, or create a self-guided interpretive booklet.

Business/Global Studies

  • Explore and research the different ways that marketing strategies have been shaped by the nine primary advances in mass communication technology: books, newspapers, magazines, music, radio, film, television, video games, and the internet. This project will explore the parallels between the development of these technologies and marketing tactics that were created and used at different times in history, ultimately leading to where we find ourselves today.
  • Identify a company within our region that is owned by a larger company outside of the USA and/or does significant business with customers outside of the USA. Conduct preliminary research online to become familiar with the company and then conduct an in-person interview with at least one representative of the company. The focus of your research, interview, and the resulting paper and presentation will vary with the course topic, but could include:
    • Variations among accounting practices across the globe
    • Global marketing strategies
    • The most desirable skills for employees of global businesses
    • The current climate for international business – changes in recent years
    • Cross-cultural challenges
  • Identify independently-owned regional businesses. Conduct preliminary research online to become familiar with the businesses and then conduct an in-person interview with at least one representative of each business. The focus of your research, interview, and the resulting paper and presentation will vary with the course topic, but could include:
    • The challenges of small business ownership – in the start-up phase or in the mature business phase
    • Strategies for competing with larger businesses
    • The challenges of business franchising
    • The impact of emerging technologies on small businesses


  • Set up interviews and take video to create a documentary covering the struggles and achievements of veterans living in our local area, their feelings on the treatment that is available, and what treatments they wish they had access to. The goal is to connect the veteran with the community and share the struggle that these men and women face after their service time is complete. The student will cover veterans from the Vietnam War era to modern-day veterans. The film will be in documentary style and be prepared for public viewing. The project will include a treatment sheet and several hours of camera work and editing. The student is expected to produce, film, direct, and edit the documentary.
  • Expand on the depth of information covered in Introduction to Communications through an internship experience with an area business and critical analyses of social media posts on a variety of platforms. Identify increasing patterns and how they apply to effective communication. Consider the topics of power, history, individual and societal forces, and their influence on social media communication.
  • While completing an internship with a local business/agency, students will research current social media theories and the complex nature of a social media platform and present their findings at the conclusion of the semester.
  • Students will produce a 7-20-minute informative video documentary that utilizes visual and auditory rhetoric to provoke an emotional and ethical response. The project will include pre-production (treatment, general script, gear list), production, and post-production (editing and final presentation).

Criminal Justice

  • The student will conduct a study of bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA) with two outcomes at the culmination of the study:
    • A research paper of 8-10 pages covering the origins/history of BPA as well as explaining common/standardized terms as defined by the Scientific Working Group on Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (SWGSTAIN)
    • A large display poster presenting common blood spatters and patterns complete with names, descriptions, and photographs.
  • The poster will be mutually beneficial as it will become a teaching aid for JCC forensic students, the Forensic Investigation Team, Sheriff’s Academy recruits, and Correction Academy recruits.


  • Explore how federal government subsidies affect different markets, in particular, agricultural markets. It will examine how subsidies provide an incentive for consumers to buy certain products over others. It will further detail how subsidies can give certain markets a distinct advantage. The project will identify different aspects of the issues, both positive and negative. The conclusion will present multiple perspectives on the issue and offer alternatives to government subsidies.
  • Students will do an economic analysis of a current affairs issue that is of particular interest to them, present multiple perspectives of the issue, and use critical thinking skills to offer a possible solution/strategy based on economic theory.

Human Services

  • Compare and document the diagnostic for childhood disorders which changed from the DSM-IV-TR to the current edition, DSM-V, published in 2013 and examine effective treatment methods currently being used. The student will meet and interview working professionals to review the past interventions and compare these new interventions to the old and assess the effectiveness. The research paper will detail all of the above in addition to describing and discussing commonly occurring problematic behaviors.


  • Honors students will be introduced to and apply techniques of writing pedagogy; mastery will be demonstrated via the development and delivery of mini-lessons in small group and whole class settings. They will also become familiar with a variety of composing and documenting conventions in addition to MLA. Finally, each major assignment will be altered to include the additional requirement of introducing additional or competing perspectives.
  • Honors students will coordinate all aspects of a public performance of prose or poetic works created by other students including the assessment of works submitted for inclusion.


  • Honors students will read a book-length primary source, write a response, and present that response to the class.
  • Honors students will independently locate local primary historical sources, write a paper that describes the sources and places them in a historical context, and then share sources with the class in a short presentation (minimum 5 minutes, maximum 10). They will explain how they found the sources, why they chose them, and lead the class in a brief discussion of what the sources shows about local and/or American history. For example, primary source could be a newspaper article from one of the 19th century newspapers available on microfilm at local libraries, a documented historical artifact in the collection of a local museum (the student would share a photo and the artifact's provenance with the class), or an oral history interview of a local resident about a particular past experience.


  • Honors students will complete an in-depth lab assignment that includes researching topics not covered in class using other statistics textbooks, information from the United States Census, and the Journal of the American Statistical Association.


  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of common equipment used in the recording industry by recording, producing, and mixing an original composition. Emphasis will be on pre-production, documentation of recording setups, and attributes of microphones. The research component will be fulfilled through research regarding common related techniques used in the recording industry.


  • Observe infection control practices in a childcare setting and develop an educational plan to teach the children and staff how to prevent the spread of microorganisms. Examples of education that may be provided include demonstrating correct handwashing techniques, effective environmental cleaning, and proper storage of snacks and other foods to prevent the outbreak of infection. After sharing the findings and presenting the education component to the children and childcare staff, the student will be asked to note any changes in practice at the setting.

Occupational Therapy Assistant

  • Honors students will collaborate with OT staff at a local agency to research and write articles focusing on adaptive technologies to be shared via a digital newsletter that the student will edit, promote, and distribute. Newsletter content may include articles in “digest” form gleaned from research studies and professional journals as well as from interviews with local providers.


  • Honors students will produce a well-crafted research proposal using a format provided to interested students by the instructor. Sections will include a research question, significant literature review, hypothesis, method, analytic strategy, and expected results. Students will present their research proposals to a mock Institutional Review Board.

Social Sciences/Human Services

  • Focusing on Joint Neighborhood Project, St. Susan’s Soup Kitchen, or the Warming House (Olean), conduct interviews and other forms of primary research to seek answers to these questions: What sort of processes do people go through to get assistance and how do they qualify? What obstacles or barriers do they face? Consider what the cash equivalent would be to shop for a week for a family of four with food stamps. What kinds of food can be purchased? How do you rate them in terms of freshness and nutrition?  How do you think this system helps or hinders people in terms of their health and therefore, their ability to be productive each day? Are certain populations more vulnerable than others? How do our aid and food systems work for or against the poor? What are the issues of transportation and time involved? How could food delivery to the poor be improved? How does the media depict the poor in our country? How do issues of poverty affect all of us? What challenges are unique to our region?
  • Honors students will produce a well-crafted research proposal using a format provided to interested students by the instructor. Sections will include a research question, literature review, hypothesis, method, analytic strategy, and expected results. Students will present their research proposal to a mock Institutional Review Board.


  • The student will participate as a crew member in this semester’s musical production in the Scharmann Theatre. During this time, the student will read and evaluate the script, take notes regarding stage directions and cues, and help ensure a smooth run of the show, all while taking note of the complexities and nuances of theater rehearsals and acting techniques. The student will have the opportunity to assist both members of the community and professionals involved in making the show. The student’s research paper will discuss the importance of the arts on a large scale and within communities.