James Madison University

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Honors College Considerations

Students who enter the Honors College at the freshman or sophomore level, and who declare nursing as a major, should become familiar with the JMU Honors College guidelines, along with the following special considerations: 

  • Students who enter the nursing program will have a full semester load of nursing courses each semester. For this reason, it is wise to complete all Honors General Education and Seminar courses prior to entering the junior level of the nursing program.  Please meet with Jared Diener, the Honors College Academic Advisor (dienerjl@jmu.edu) to confirm that you have either met or have a realistic plan for meeting all Honors General Education and Seminar courses prior to entering the junior level of the nursing program. For students who wish to complete an Honors Capstone Project as a Track III student, please see Honors College Track III guidelines.
  • In the nursing program, students enroll in laboratory and practicum courses in clinical settings which are time-intensive. This is a second reason why it is wise to complete all Honors General Education courses and Seminar requirements prior to entering the nursing program.

Nursing Honors Project

Please review the general JMU guidelines for all Honors Capstone Projects. The following guidelines include special considerations for completing an Honors Project in the Nursing Program.  

Who should consider an Honors Project?

In addition to meeting JMU qualifications for the Honors College, you should determine that you have the following characteristics to successfully complete an Honors Project in the Nursing major: you are motivated and self-directed; you organize and manage time well; you have a strong desire for independent in-depth scholarly inquiry into a specific area of relevance to health care and to your own professional interests and goals; and you are a competent writer. If you bring these qualities, completing the Honors Project can be a realistic and highly rewarding goal for nursing students.

The Honors Project is not for everyone.  Nursing is a rigorous and time-intensive major that includes learning a large body of knowledge and skills in the classroom and laboratory settings and applying those to patient care in varied clinical settings. Because students engage in a clinical “capstone” – 8 weeks of full time practice with a nurse preceptor – during the final semester (4th nursing semester), an Honors Project should be largely completed by the end of the first semester of the senior year (3rd nursing semester).  It is wise to seek advising and to begin planning for the Honors Project in the Sophomore year, as soon as you receive a guarantee of admission to the junior level of the Nursing program.  In order to best plan your Honors Project, and to fully understand the process prior to entering the junior level of the nursing program, schedule a meeting with the Nursing Honors Liaison, Betsy Herron, (herronek@jmu.edu) to discuss your options.

How do I begin to plan for an Honors Project in Nursing?

First, read the capstone project information on the Honors College website. Every nursing honors student must meet with the Nursing Honors Liaison. The Nursing Honors Liaison will assist you in exploring project ideas and possibilities, considering a realistic time frame for your project, and identifying faculty resource persons who might assist you to refine and frame your ideas. You will continue to work with the Nursing Honors Liaison until you have identified and obtained an agreement with a faculty Project Advisor and 2 faculty readers.

There are many ways to approach an Honors Project in nursing. First, identify an area of interest, and then think about what you would like to learn. Then you can discuss with the Nursing Honors Liaison and your faculty Project Advisor the best method to use for your project. Examples of past Nursing Honors Projects include: 1) An analysis of stereotypes of nurses in several fictional novels;  2) An integrated review of literature about spiritual needs and spiritual care in nursing; and 3) Using Social Narratives to Improve the Healthcare Experiences of Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
NOTE: If your project involves working with human subjects in any way, you may need to submit a proposal and receive approval from the JMU IRB Institutional Review Board (IRB) on the Use of Human Subjects in Research. For example, you will need IRB approval if you conduct interviews with people and then analyze their responses. Discuss this possibility with the Nursing Honors Liaison and/or your Faculty Advisor.

Honors Project Advisory Committee

Your Project Advisor and the additional 2 Advisory Committee members (readers) will supervise your project and provide you with guidance and feedback as your project progresses. These faculty should have professional interests and expertise in the topic and substance of your project.  While the Nursing Honors Liaison may assist you in identifying appropriate nursing faculty for your committee, it will be your responsibility to discuss your project ideas with potential faculty committee members and to request their participation on the committee.  Identify your Project Advisor as early as possible, as this person can help you to begin important planning activities prior to enrollment in NSG 499A. The Project Advisor, who will provide most of your supervision, should be a member of the Nursing faculty and this person may assist you to identify other potential faculty committee members from inside or outside the School of Nursing. Participation as a committee member is voluntary on the part of the faculty member.

Special Considerations for Nursing Majors

The Honor’s Project involves 6 credits of guided work across four semesters. Nursing is a time-intensive major because it includes clinical practice, so early planning for the Honors Project is important. Although there may be variations, students should plan to use the following timeline:

Freshman Year or First Semester Transfer: Before entering the nursing program you may consider enrolling in NSG 301H, 1st Year Nursing Student Seminar. This course will introduce you to the nursing curriculum and electives in other disciplines that relate to the goals and objectives of the nursing program. As an honors elective (1 credit) the course will assist you in developing a plan for completing the honors college requirements to graduation.

Upon admission into the nursing program: Contact the Nursing Honors Liaison prior to entry into Semester 1 of the nursing program. The Honors Advisor will be your academic advisor for your junior and senior years while you complete your Honors Capstone Project, although you will also have a specific Honors Project Advisor.

Semester 1:  You will formally enroll in 499A (1 credit) in the first semester of the nursing program. During this semester the Nursing Honors Liaison can assist you to develop an idea and/or to find faculty resource persons who can assist you to focus and refine your idea. With the assistance of the Nursing Honors Liaison, you will identify a Project Advisor and two readers as part of your honors committee. You will meet with your Project Advisor and the other two members of your honors committee during the first semester to begin to define your honors capstone topic. During the first semester of the nursing program, you will also enroll in NSG 350H Foundations of Nursing. This is an Honors designated course and will provide 2 honors elective credits. In this course you will explore the healthcare literature to identify and develop an honors thesis focus.

NOTE: You must have the permission of your Nursing Honors Liaison to enroll in the NSG 499 sequence of courses. Grades for all NSG 499 courses are formally assigned by the Nursing Honors Liaison, who will be in regular communication with your Faculty Project Advisor. 

Semester 2:  During this semester the Nursing Honors Liaison and your honors committee will assist you to focus your idea and/or refine your idea. During the second semester in the nursing program you will enroll in NSG 499B (2 credits) to further develop your project proposal. You will also enroll in NSG 354H the Art and Science of Nursing (2 honors elective credits) and will complete an Honors objective. With the assistance of your Honors Project Advisor and committee, you will demonstrate an understanding of the ethical component of developing and conducting research by completing CITI training which is a requirement for submission to the university Institutional Review Board (IRB).

In late November or late April (depending on the semester you enter the nursing program), you will submit the Honors Capstone Project Application and Proposal. The project proposal is typically a three to five-page paper that outlines and briefly describes the following elements: 1) Question or topic of exploration; 2) Project objectives and outcomes; and 3) Project activities and time frame. Your Faculty Project Advisor and the Nursing Honors Liaison will assist in this process.

Following the completion of your proposal, discuss with your Faculty Project Advisor how you will share the proposal with committee members and obtain their feedback. It may be wise to schedule a meeting of the committee for this purpose. Members of the committee can reject the proposal, approve it pending revisions, or approve the proposal as written. At the end of NSG 499B, submit your project proposal and the Honors Capstone Project Application to the Honors College Program office.  You should follow the outline of the Senior Honors Project Application.
Semester 3:  You will begin NSG 499C (2 credits), the primary “work” of the project, during this semester. During NSG 499C, it will be crucial to establish regular communication/meetings with your Faculty Advisor and committee, and to follow your honors project timeline carefully. You will also enroll in NSG 450H Nursing Inquiry and Research Methods where you will synthesize literature from an individual review of research and prepare for public presentation. You will receive 3 Honors elective credits for this course.

Most of your nursing courses this semester are time-intensive. For this reason, you may not be able to fully complete your project work during the semester; however, it is important for you to make substantive progress on the project. Depending on when you enter the nursing program, you may need to plan to use the summer or part of the next academic semester to complete your work. 

Semester 4: You will enroll in NSG 499D (1 credit). During this semester you will finish your Honors Capstone project, including writing up the project, receiving feedback from your Project Advisor and your Project Committee members, revising and editing your written work, and formatting it using the Honors College guidelines. You will distribute the written project to all committee members for final review and determine with your Project Advisor how you will receive feedback from the Committee. The Committee can approve the project, approve it pending revisions, or reject the project. All committee members must sign documents certifying successful project completion. You will submit the Honors Pre-Submission form and the final project to the Honors College per the guidelines.

You will also enroll in NSG 455H Nursing Informatics and complete an Honors specific objective. (2 Honors elective credits)

Semester 4 students spend 8 weeks of the final semester of the nursing program (either first block or second block) in Clinical Capstone activities, working with a nurse preceptor. The alternate block is practicum intensive. For this reason, students may choose to use the summer and/or winter break preceding their final semester to complete work on the Capstone Project. The project must be completed and approved by the Committee and the Honors College prior to the completion of Semester 4 in the nursing program for you to receive a grade for NSG 499D and to graduate with honors. Use the Honors College guidelines to format the final written project.

Work with your Project Advisor and the Nursing Honors Liaison to prepare your project (when it is completed or near completion) for presentation to student peers and/or other professionals who may have an interest, for example at Sigma Research Day or at the Virginia Nursing Student Association annual meeting. You will also prepare your project for presentation at the Nursing Honors Reception at the end of the semester. This reception is designed for you to present your project to faculty, other nursing students, and family prior to graduation.