Overview of the BS with Distinction
The BS with Distinction in Neuroscience gives you the opportunity to complete a more substantial research project through multiple semesters of Independent Study and completing a Senior Thesis. Students who are already completing a neuroscience-focused senior thesis as part of their Honors College requirements can use the same project to fulfill the requirements for the BS with Distinction.
An application to the program is required, but any Neuroscience Major who meets the eligibility criteria can complete the BS with Distinction:
- Minimum GPA of 3.50, both within the major and cumulative
- Have both a primary thesis advisor and secondary mentor/reader who agree to oversee and evaluate the research project
- Application approved by the Neuroscience Program Director
To complete the BS with Distinction in Neuroscience, students must:.
- Maintain a 3.50 GPA, both major and cumulative
- Complete 9 additional credit hours beyond the major requirements, which include individual research and senior thesis credits (see below)
- Produce a written thesis document and complete an oral presentation of their research to the satisfaction of their thesis committee
- Submit their final thesis document and all approval paperwork to the Neuroscience Program Director
identify potential advisors and begin getting involved in research. Often this involves volunteering as a research assistant in multiple labs to identify topics that interest you and mentors you enjoy working with (note that you can also complete NSCI 498 – Individual Research as part of this process to fulfill your major research requirement).
Identify a specific mentor and begin formulating a plan for your thesis project. You will need to submit your application for the BS with Distinction no later than 8 months before your anticipated graduation date, so you should plan to have a thesis project in place and your thesis committee established by the end of your Junior year.
Complete your thesis project. Typically, you will take NSCI 498 - Individual Research in Semester 1 of your Senior Year while you are working on your thesis project (e.g., recruiting subjects, collecting data, programming experiments, etc.) and NSCI 499 – Senior Thesis in Semester 2 when you will complete your project (i.e., complete your thesis document and the public presentation of your project).
Guide to Completing the BS with Distinction in Neuroscience
You will have to indicate who will be evaluating your thesis at the time of application. These two people that you must identify are your Thesis Advisor/Director and your Secondary Mentor/Reader. Your Thesis Advisor must be a tenure-track faculty member affiliated with the Neuroscience program and will be responsible for guiding you through your project. Your Secondary Mentor/Reader must be a tenure-track or research-track faculty member at the University of South Carolina and you need to have their agreement to be part of your committee at the time of application. This is different from the second reader requirements of the Honors College, so if you plan to have your thesis count for both the Honors thesis and the BS with Distinction in Neuroscience you will need to have your second reader meet our more stringent requirements.
This will likely be done in conjunction with selecting your thesis committee members. You and your advisor need to come up with a reasonable plan for what your thesis project will entail. Most likely, this will be something you have already been working on with that faculty mentor, but if you are generating your own project idea you need to have formed a clear plan of what you intend to do and have your advisor agree to it before submitting your application for the BS with Distinction.
The BS with Distinction in Neuroscience requires 9 additional credit hours over and above the hours completed for the major:
- Independent Study (3 cr hrs) – NSCI 498 or equivalent
- Additional upper-level elective (3 cr hrs)
- Senior Thesis (3 cr hrs) – NSCI 499 or SCHC 499
Typically, students will complete independent study in the semester before they complete their thesis while they are working on their thesis project (e.g., NSCI 498 in the fall, NSCI 499 in the spring). Students accepted into the BS with Distinction can also use additional hours of independent study as their additional elective credits as long as their degree total of independent study credits does not exceed 9 credit hours. If you are thinking about applying to the BS with Distinction in Neuroscience it is highly recommended that you discuss your course plans with your Neuroscience Major Advisor prior to your application to ensure you can fulfill all your graduation requirements.
You should complete the application form and obtain yours and your Thesis Advisor's signatures, and then submit the form through our website application submission link before the application deadline. Links to all forms can also be found on our Neuroscience Forms page.
Once submitted, your application will be reviewed by the Neuroscience Undergraduate Program Committee to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria, your thesis committee meets the program requirements, and your proposed project is appropriately neuroscience focused. If approved, your information will be forwarded to the registrar to add the BS with Distinction to your Program of Study.
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Note that you must meet the major and cumulative GPA requirements (both 3.50) at the time of application and at the time of graduation. If your GPA drops below this level after your application you will not be able to graduate with the distinction.
You will have to produce both a written thesis document detailing your project and orally present your work in a public forum (typically a thesis defense). Each semester the deadlines for completing each of these steps will be posted on the website and communicated to students in the program. You will need to schedule your presentation/defense to meet these deadlines and provide your thesis document to your committee at least 1 week prior to your presentation.
Our thesis formatting guidelines are very similar to those used for the Honors College senior thesis to facilitate students using the same document to fulfill both requirements. Your submitted thesis should include the following:
- Title Page (REQUIRED) - examples can be found on the forms page
- Table of Contents (REQUIRED)
- Thesis Summary (REQUIRED) - appearing after the Table of Contents written in less formal and less technical terminology than the Abstract or Introduction. Must be included in the Table of Contents
- Abstract - A more technical overview of your project than the Thesis Summary. Should be less than 350 words.
- Main Text - The structure of the main body of your thesis will vary depending on your
project, but in general it will include sections for:
- Appendices (if appropriate)
All pages must be numbered consecutively. Any tables, graphs, figures, etc. should be included in the main body of the document and inserted immediately after the paragraph where they are first referenced. There is no specific reference format required, but whichever one you choose needs to be used correctly and consistently throughout the document for in-text citations and the reference list. The USC library has style guides for the most common citation formats along with information about reference management software that you can use to help you properly format your references: https://guides.library.sc.edu/citation
The BS with Distinction in Neuroscience requires the public presentation of the senior thesis research. This is traditionally done with a thesis defense, in which you give a short oral presentation of the work you have completed and your committee asks you questions about your project to evaluate your mastery of the topic and the research process.
However, you can fulfill this requirement with other public presentations, as long as your thesis advisor and secondary mentor are both in attendance to evaluate it and have the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. For example, participating in the Honors Thesis Symposium or a presentation at Discover USC or another conference could be acceptable if both your committee members will be there, although you may need to schedule a separate meeting with them for after your presentation to discuss the project in greater detail and any revisions that are required (note that if your thesis is also fulfilling SCHC thesis requirements, you will need to choose an option that also meets their expectations).
You will need to submit the information about your presentation to the Neuroscience Program at least 2 weeks before your scheduled presentation date using the online form. The deadline to present each semester will be posted on the website and distributed to students accepted into the BS with Distinction program.
To complete your BS with Distinction in Neuroscience, your thesis committee has to provide their approval that you have completed your project to their satisfaction. They do this by signing the title page of your thesis document. Once you have obtained their signatures, you will submit your final thesis document, including the signed title page, to the Neuroscience Program Director using the online submission form.
After your presentation/defense your committee may have changes that they would like you to make to your thesis document before they sign off on it. Make sure to get your revisions to your committee well in advance of the final thesis submission date so that they have time to review it and provide their signatures. The final thesis submission date is typically the last day of classes for that semester.
Both members of your committee will be emailed separately by the Neuroscience program to provide an evaluation of your thesis document and public presentation and your Thesis Advisor will be responsible for assigning you a letter grade for NSCI 499. You are responsible for submitting:
- Information about your public presentation
- The final copy of your thesis with the approval signatures of both your committee members on the title page