If you have specific questions about the Honors Program you are always welcome to contact the program directly at honors@elon.edu; however, here are some frequently asked questions and their answers for your convenience.

Research Expenses/ Reimbursement

When can I be reimbursed for research expenses? And, what can be reimbursed?

Once a student’s thesis proposal is approved by the Honors Advisory Council, they have access to $1,000 in funds to support the research process and/or travel to present your work at a conference.

Any research supplies or equipment (e.g., books, audio-recorders, etc.) that you purchase are the property of Elon University and must remain at Elon after you graduate. If you are planning to conduct your research during study abroad, note that we cannot pay for your plane fare to the country in which you are studying abroad. However, any travel expenses related to your research project can be covered. For example, if you are studying abroad in London and plan to travel to Ireland for your thesis research, we cannot cover your flight from the U.S. to London, but we can cover your travel expenses from London to Ireland.

We cannot pay for alcohol and food charges should be less than $50 per day.

Can Honors pay for my research expenses in advance or can expenses only be reimbursed?

For the most part, expenses can only be reimbursed. If a student is purchasing something for which we can issue a purchase order through the university, such as software or scientific equipment, we can work with you on doing that.

How can I be reimbursed?

If the expense is $150 or less, you need to use the online petty cash system through the Bursar’s office (HERE). Contact Ms. Emily Moser in the Honors office (emoser3@elon.edu) for the account number and choose her as the routing person for approval. You will be informed by email when you can pick up your reimbursement.

For reimbursement over $150, please fill out and follow the instructions on this form (Reimbursement Form Updated 11-28-2022).

Billing Questions

Why don’t I see my Honors scholarship applied to my bill?

Every summer students or their families notice that they have a bill for tuition that does not include their Honors scholarship. They often contact our office worried that their scholarship has been suspended. However, these funds do not “hit” the student account until about 10 days before the beginning of the semester. If a student has questions about their bill, they should contact the Bursar’s Office.

If I took a leave for a semester, do I just lose my scholarship for that semester?

No. The Honors scholarship is technically for a full 8 semesters. If a student withdraws from the university for a semester for medical or other approved reasons, they still have access to the scholarship as long as they have not graduated. This means that some people may finish up their time in Honors at the end of a fall semester.

Courses in Honors

Can my Honors Courses count toward my major or minor?

It is sometimes possible for Honors seminars to count toward the major in which the course instructor usually teaches (e.g., if your course is taught by a Political Science faculty member it might be possible for the course to count toward Political Science). The decision, however, is made by the chair of your major or minor department. You are free to contact them and ask if the course can count. If they agree, they will fill out an online form from the Registrar’s office allowing the exception.

Can my Honors Course count as a CORE capstone?

No. The goals of CORE capstones are unique to those courses and are not met by Honors seminars.

Can Honors request a waiver of overload fees incurred during semesters when I’m taking an Honors Course?

Sorry, no. It is not possible to waive overload fees for Honors seminars. We can ask for waivers of fees if the overload is related to HNR 4998.

Do the Honors Course requirements mean I can’t study abroad spring semester of my sophomore year?

Fellows are welcome to study abroad spring semester of their sophomore year. This means that they will take their final Honors Course (2000 level) during the fall of their junior or third year. We encourage students to study abroad when it makes sense for them academically, so this accommodation is not a problem.

Credit Hours

If I brought in a lot of transfer credits from high school can I do a part-time semester or graduate early?

No. As a four-year, developmental and sequential program building towards the thesis defense the Honors Program requires students to be enrolled as a full-time student all four years (fall and spring semesters). In their first three years, students must take 30 credit hours each year. In the senior year students may opt to take 24 credit hours with at least 12 credit hours each semester.

If my AP or IB credits didn’t transfer, what should I do?

This is an issue that the Registrar’s office can help you solve. You can email them at registrar@elon.edu.

Can I take courses over the summer at another institution and transfer the credits?

You can. You should consult the Registrar’s office prior to enrolling at another institution since Elon’s credit hour system is different from many other schools. You can look up information about transfer credits HERE.


Does my mentor have to be in my major?

Generally, yes. However, a student may select a mentor outside of their major if that mentor has formal affiliate status within the mentee’s major and the pairing is approved by the department chair of the student’s major. Such relationships are rare at Elon but do exist. For example, a COM professor with formal affiliate status in the Environmental Studies major may be an appropriate mentor for an ENS major.

Who can be an Honors research mentor?

Mentors in Honors must be full-time faculty on long-term contracts teaching within the undergraduate curriculum at the University. For the most part, mentors must be selected from the faculty in the student’s major (see above). Additional stipulations and guidelines for finding an appropriate mentor may be made by departments.

When do I need to have my research mentor selected and do I need to let the Honors program know?

We encourage students to begin actively looking for mentors at the beginning of their sophomore year. Honors Fellows propose their theses in the junior year, so it is good to have someone identified before then. However, in some cases students don’t settle on a mentor until the beginning of their junior year. You let us know you have a mentor when you submit your thesis proposal in the junior year.

How do I find an Honors research mentor?

Finding a mentor often happens naturally as you begin to take classes in your major. You may find a full-time faculty mentor who is doing research you find engaging or interesting or with whom you think you will work well. You can also let the chair of your major department know that you are an Honors Fellow and that you need to find a mentor. The chair can suggest possible faculty members whose interests align with your own. You might also consult with junior and senior Honors fellows to find out who they work with.

Research (HNR 4998) Hours

How many HNR 4998 hours are required to graduate with Honors?

8 hours total. At least 4 of those hours need to be taken in the senior year.

When can I start taking HNR 4998 hours?

Students can begin taking HNR 4998 hours the semester they propose their thesis. Often, students will take 4999 research hours with their mentor the semester before proposing in order to work on the thesis proposal.

I’ve taken 4999 hours with my thesis mentor, do these count toward my Honors hours?

No. 4999 hours cannot be used as a substitute for 4998 hours, even if they are taken as part of developing the thesis proposal.

What if I need to take more than 8 hours?

The research process for a thesis often extends beyond the required 8 hours and students should expect this. However, we discourage signing up for more than eight hours of 4998. On some occasions a student may sign up for additional hours to work with their mentors using the 4999 designation.

What are the work expectations related to research hours?

Students are expected to do a minimum of three hours of work per week per hour of HNR 4998 course credit. If a student signs up to take 2 credit hours, they will need to plan on dedicating at least 6 hours a week to work related to the thesis project.

Can I take an overload with HNR 4998 hours? What about the fees?

Yes, but we encourage fellows to try to keep their schedules from going over 18 credit hours per semester. Still, we recognize there are special circumstances (i.e., double majors, high-credit majors) that may occasionally warrant an overload when a student is taking HNR 4998 hours. In these cases, the Honors Director can ask the Registrar to waive the overload fee. This is not automatic and it is not the case for 4999 hours or other HNR courses (see above).

Can I take 4998 hours during Winter Term or over the summer?

HNR 4998 hours are generally not allowed in Winter Term. In some cases (usually with bench sciences or students doing student teaching in the spring semester of their senior year), an exception will be made, but it will only be made once per student and in those cases only one hour can be taken. The reason for this policy is that one hour of 4998 credit requires a minimum of three hours of work. During Winter Term when courses are compressed this means that one credit hour requires a minimum of fifteen hours of student work on the thesis each week and at least one hour a day face to face time with the faculty mentor.

Students are allowed, in certain cases, to take up to two hours of HNR 4998 hours during the summer. They need to complete a contract during the spring and have it approved by the director. Please note: Students are required to pay for these credit hours, so we discourage this option.  Students doing research through SURE are not allowed to count the experience toward their required HNR 4998 hours since they are being compensated financially for the experience.

Study Abroad/Away

Does my Honors Scholarship apply to courses taken while studying away or abroad?

Students do not lose their Honors funding if they study abroad/ away for a semester with an Elon affiliated program (i.e., a program approved through the Global Education Center). Your scholarship is applied against the charges in the Bursar’s Office.

How do I get my Honors study abroad/away grant?

Honors fellows are given a one-time study abroad grant of $1,000 to apply to an Elon affiliated study abroad/away program. This travel grant can be used toward a full semester or toward a Winter Term program. It must be used all at once and not split up between programs. It must go toward the cost of the program (i.e., it is not payable to the student for flights, travel expenses, etc.). Students must fill out an online request form to use their funds. Once approved, the Honors office will handle applying the balance to your account, which will be allocated for your semester abroad.

Can I take HNR research hours while studying abroad/away?

Yes, if you think you will have the time and if your faculty mentor is willing to mentor you remotely. Students even submit thesis proposals while abroad. You do not need to pay extra for HNR hours, even though you are taking courses through another institution.

I applied for my study abroad/away grant but I don’t see it on my account. What’s going on?

The grant isn’t applied immediately. The bursar’s office awards the grant no sooner than 10 days prior to the start of the term in question.

The Thesis

What is an Honors Thesis?

The honors thesis provides honors students the unique opportunity to engage in a high quality study of a carefully defined question or problem over the course of 1.5 to 2 years. Based in research, this problem may be critical, experimental, applied, or creative in nature, and it should represent an effort to make an original contribution to the field. In an honors thesis, students work with a faculty mentor to explore a topic in their major area of study. In all cases, the honors thesis is a substantial project that goes beyond normal requirements of the major and represents the student’s best work in their discipline. Each thesis will demonstrate clear critical thinking, a mastery of disciplinary material, clarity in communication of complex ideas, and professionalism in production.

Can my thesis be something creative, like a play or film?

If you are majoring in a field where “research” includes creative productions, the answer is “yes.” Individual departments provide guidance for what a thesis should be like and how it counts toward major requirements and in certain field this can include a creative product. Documents describing their expectations as well as those describing the thesis guidelines, requirements, and timeline are available HERE.

Can my thesis be on any subject or in any field I choose?

Your thesis research must (with only a few exceptions) be in your major. Since the major is the student’s primary area of academic expertise and given the number of credit hours required to complete a major, the major is a natural home for the thesis. A thesis does not stand apart from the rest of the student’s academic work; rather, given that thesis research constitutes only 8 credit hours, we expect that the courses within a major will provide an intellectual backdrop for the thesis. This is especially true when the major requires a course in methods.

What if there isn’t a major related to the field I want to study?

Students taking interdisciplinary minors that do not align with a current major on Elon’s campus may be approved to do research in that minor if 1) is rigorously scaffolded with a gateway and capstone course and 2) the student and mentor submit a plan for coursework that will ensure methodological, theoretical, and topical depth within the interdisciplinary field of study.

In some cases, a student may opt to design an independent major. For information on developing and proposing an independent major go HERE.

For more information about the thesis and thesis proposal process please go HERE.