General Information

The objective of the HESP Honors program is to encourage and recognize superior academic achievement and scholarship by providing opportunities for interested, capable, and energetic undergraduates to engage in independent study. A research project will be conducted under the supervision of a faculty mentor and will result in an Honors thesis. 

The goals of the HESP Honors program are as follows:

  • Educate students to think independently on a broad range of ideas and issues related to the study of Hearing and Speech Sciences. 
  • Provide opportunities for in-depth, scholarly, and scientific analysis of significant and current topics in the Hearing and Speech Sciences.
  • Provide students with the experience of undertaking a research project

Honors students get the opportunity to work closely with faculty and participate in outside-the-classroom learning experiences. This includes hands-on experience with research, publication of research findings, and exploration of academic career options. 

Students enrolled in a department or college Honors program are automatically part of the University Honors Program. Benefits of the University Honors Program include, but are not limited to:

  • All Honors College students have access to H-version courses offered by academic departments across campus. They also have the option to develop an honors option course if they are unable to take a developmental honors course required to complete to complete the honors degree. 
  • Students are eligible to participate in all Honors College activities and organizations. 
  • Honors program students may apply for a one-time, need-based honors research grant of $500 to help support research for an individual senior thesis or travel to a professional conference related to the thesis. 

Graduating from the Honors program is an excellent way to stand out as an exceptional candidate for graduate school, and thesis-writing experience will help you once you get there!

  • The HESP Honors program is a three-semester sequence, typically spanning from the Fall of Junior year until the Fall of Senior year.
  • Interested students must apply to be considered for the HESP Honors Programs by the deadline posted for each year (typically June 1 preceding the Fall of Junior).
  • Students must complete 3 credits of HESP Honors Seminar. This is the HESP 468H: Professional Development in Research and Academia. 
  • Students will be expected to complete an Honors Thesis with the assistance of a thesis advisor. The thesis culminates in an oral defense. Students must complete 9 credits of HESP Honors research (HESP 499H, HESP 469A, and B) for the thesis. Three of the HESP Honors research credits may be used to fulfill the CORE Advanced Studies requirement upon successful completion of the thesis defense. 

Please meet with the Undergraduate Advisor or Directors of the Honors program (Dr. Jared Novick and Dr. Matt Goupell) for more information.

Students may apply if they meet the following prerequisite criteria:

  • A cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and a GPA of 3.5 or higher in HESP courses 
  • Declaration of HESP major by the time of application
  • Completion of HESP 202 with a grade of A
  • Evidence of satisfactory writing 

Meeting the above criteria does not guarantee admission into the HESP Honors program. The decision of the Honors admissions committee depends on numerous factors including the availability of a faculty mentor. 

Interested students who meet the above eligibility criteria may discuss the honors option by contacting the Undergraduate Advisor.

In order to apply for the HESP Honors program, students must submit an online application and email the following documents in a single pdf to the Directors of the Honors program, Dr. Jared Novick and Dr. Matt Goupell

  • Updated unofficial UMD transcript, and a one-page (double-spaced) personal statement that should focus on why you want to participate in the Honors program, indicate your future goals, and broadly define your topics of interest within the field of hearing and speech sciences. 
  • Please indicate a specific faculty mentor or mentors; you are required to get approval from the mentor before applying to the program. 
  • The writing sample should be no longer than two to three pages in length (double-spaced) and could be on any academic topic, such as a term paper or other assignment from a prior course. 

The applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


Program Overview

The Directors of the HESP Honors program serve as the academic advisors for HESP Honors students and help the student identify:

  • Appropriate coursework
  • The selection of an appropriate thesis advisor, and 
  • Track progress through completion of the honors program

HESP Honors involves 12 credits: 

  • 3 credits (1 credit taken in each of 3 separate semesters) of HESP Honors seminar class (468H)
  • 9 credits of research registration that culminates in a thesis (HESP 499H, HESP 469A, and HESP 469B)
  • All honors coursework must be approved in advance by the Undergraduate Director or Directors of the Honors program (Dr. Jared Novick and Dr. Matt Goupell) or Honors Thesis advisor.
  • The seminar courses may include a graduate course, provided the student first gains permission of the course instructor and the Assistant Dean of the College offering the course before enrolling. 

Three of the HESP Honors research credits may be used to fulfill the CORE Advanced Studies requirement upon successful completion of the thesis defense. 

Students should also complete an approved course in statistics (PSYC 200, EDMS 451, or BIOM 301).

Honors Course Descriptions

These descriptions are similar (but not identical) to those in the current Undergraduate Catalog:

  • HESP499H (Grade): Independent Study. Topics in the Hearing and Speech Sciences (1-3 credits). This is an individual instruction course. Students will take this to gain hands-on research experience in a research lab and for honors thesis research. If a student has not yet identified an area of interest, the student may request lab rotations, pending faculty approval. In addition to hands-on research exposure, the HESP499H option includes independent scholarly reading and analysis. 
  • HESP468H: The purpose of this seminar is to complement your honors project with practical advice on how to navigate successful careers in research and academia. In this class, we will cover tips and skills that are often passed along informally in the lab; but here, we will discuss these issues overtly from a range of perspectives, experiences, and best practices (e.g., navigating advisor/advisee relationships in a Ph.D. program, developing an elevator pitch, giving a conference talk, time management). This course is intended to demystify graduate school, getting your Ph.D., and life in the academy. We will offer clarity on topics that you find most perplexing about taking the next steps in university life, and assurances that success comes in many forms with multiple different pathways to achieve it. 
  • HESP469A (Grade): Honors Thesis Proposal (1-3 credits). This is an individual instruction course with the thesis advisor. Students will use this course to write their proposal for Honors thesis research. The proposal will include a review of relevant literature, the rationale for the study, research questions, methods for data collection and analysis. To receive a grade for this course, the student will submit the proposal at least 10 days prior to the last day of classes for that semester.
  • HESP469B (Grade): Honors Thesis Writing (1-3 credits). This is an individual instruction course with the thesis advisor and may not be taken concurrently with HESP469A. Students will use this course to write their Honors thesis upon completion of their research. The thesis will include a review of relevant literature, justification for the study, research questions, methods for data collection and analysis, results, and discussion. To receive a grade for this course, the student will submit the proposal at least 10 days prior to the last day of classes for that semester.
  • HESP498H: Honors Seminar in Hearing and Speech Sciences: HESP 498 is used by the department to periodically offer current topics in the field. Normally there will be a one-letter suffix. The topics and schedules for this course vary. This course may not be offered every semester.


The thesis forms a significant part of the student’s Honors work. The Honors Thesis is an original research project carried out independently under the guidance of a HESP faculty advisor. The thesis usually describes original research for which hypotheses have been formulated and tested. Whatever the research, it must have the approval of the University’s Institutional Review Board. The honors thesis is taken for six credits, which must be spread over at least two semesters of registration (HESP 469A and B, Honors Thesis Proposal and Writing). The data collection and writing of thesis may only be initiated after the completion of: (i) the first 6 credits of the required, and (ii) an approved course in statistics (PSYC 200, EDMS 451 or BIOM 301 or equivalent) with a grade of B or better. The written document as well as an oral defense will be evaluated by the Thesis Committee. 

Thesis Committee

With the help of the Directors of Honors program, the student must identify and secure the approval of a thesis advisor within the department. This should be done prior to registration for HESP 469A. The thesis advisor must be selected from the department’s full-time faculty holding the doctoral degree. The student and advisor will assemble an honors thesis committee for approval of the thesis following its oral defense. All full-time instructional faculty, regardless of terminal degree, and all part-time faculty holding the doctoral degree are eligible to serve on the thesis approval committee. The committee must consist of no fewer than two faculty members, including the advisor. 

The Thesis Committee weighs the written thesis and oral presentation based on (a) how well the student places the research into the context of the relevant literature; (b) the clarity and originality of the experimental design; (c) the relevance of the statistical design and analysis; and (d) the student’s interpretation and integration of findings within the research and theoretical literature in hearing and speech sciences. 


The written proposal will include a review of relevant literature, rationale for the study, research questions, methods for data collection and analysis. Please be aware that a student may go through multiple revisions of the proposal before it is deemed suitable for honors thesis initiation. 

The thesis may be written in two possible formats: 1) in the style of a journal article outlined in the current manual of the American Psychological Association, 2) in the format of a Master’s thesis with separate chapters for review of literature, rationale, methods, results and discussion, and a table of contents. 

The oral defense will include an oral presentation by the student (approximately 30 minutes long), in which the student will present background, rationale, specific objectives of the study, experimental methods, results, and implications. This oral presentation is open to all members of the department (students, faculty) and community. Depending on schedule availability, this defense will be part of the HESP seminar series. This will be followed by time for the audience to ask questions. Finally, the open oral defense will be followed by a question and answer session with the thesis committee members only. During this second half of the defense, the committee will provide comments and ask questions pertaining to the thesis research.


To complete the Honors programs, students must:

  • Maintain a 3.5 GPA both overall and in the HESP major;
  • Successfully complete and defend the Honors thesis; and 
  • Have a majority vote of Honors (or High Honors) from the thesis committee


The student may voluntarily withdraw from the HESP Honors program. There are five reasons for such recommendations: (a) the student’s GPA (overall and HESP major) falls sufficiently below 3.5; (b) the student fails to complete the Honors thesis proposal by the end of third semester of enrollment (typically Fall of senior year); (c) the proposal is of such low quality that it seems unlikely the student’s level of performance will meet Honors standards; (d) evaluations of performance in Honors seminars are below B level, and (e) the student does not maintain active participation in research. Each case will be reviewed by the Undergraduate Honors Committee. It is our expectation that such circumstances rarely occur.




Relevant Course Registration

Sophomore, Spring or earlier

Meet with an Undergraduate advisor and Director of Honors Program to discuss eligibility and options 


Sophomore, Summer

Advising with Honors Director and Honors Advisor, discuss course registrations 


Junior, Fall

Develop an idea for a research project with guidance from Honors thesis advisor, write thesis proposal (for HESP 469A) and give to the committee for approval

HESP 469A: Honors Thesis Proposal 

HESP 499H: Independent Study. Topics in the Hearing and Speech Sciences OR Honors Seminars (if available)

Junior, Spring

Collect data for honors project

HESP 499H AND/OR Honors Seminars (if available) 

Senior, Fall OR Spring 

Write up honors thesis, defend honors thesis, submit the final thesis to committee


Honors Seminar (if needed) 

Frequently Asked Questions

No. The two programs are separate. However, those students accepted into the HESP Departmental Honors program become part of the University Honors College. UHC membership comes with many advantages.

As mentioned above, automatic admission into the University Honors College comes with many advantages. Additionally, completion of the Honors program will greatly set students apart when it comes time for the competitive process of applying to graduate school. 

Participating students will also have the opportunity to become more familiar with their thesis director, who will be a faculty member in the HESP department. 

Furthermore, it is an invaluable preparatory experience for students who will decide to go on to write a Master's thesis!

Yes. Students who complete the Departmental HESP Honors program requirements are recognized at the HESP graduation (both when they receive their diploma and in the pamphlet). 

NOTE: These students are the only ones who graduate with departmental honors.


Yes. A research project idea is not a prerequisite for admission into the HESP Honors program. During the course of the two semesters in the program, the student will participate in experiences that are geared towards the eventual creation of a research project.

Unfortunately, if your overall GPA falls below 3.5 or your major (HESP) GPA falls below 3.5, you will have to withdraw from the program. Satisfactory completion and oral defense of the Honors thesis is also a requirement of the HESP Honors program.

If you meet all the credit requirements for graduation and the graduate class is essentially “extra” credit, you may apply for this course to count as graduate credit. Whether graduate schools accept this credit towards their respective program requirements is their discretion. Given the national reputation of our graduate program, there is a good probability they will do so.

Please contact the Directors of the program:

Dr. Jared Novick, at 301.405.1288 or jnovick1 [at] ()

Dr. Matt Goupell, at 301.405.8552 or goupell [at] ()


Current Students 

Seetal Ahluwalia

Seetal Ahluwalia

My name is Seetal and I joined HESP Honors in Fall 2022. I plan to graduate in Spring 2024 and am going to join the Peace Corps prior to pursuing my master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. Buzzwords relating to my research interests are language socialization, socioeconomic status, and “word gap”. Outside of the classroom, I am an active member of Public Health Beyond Borders, NSSLHA, and Delta Kappa Delta. As an alumna of the Global Public Health Scholars program here at UMD, I have gained invaluable insight and experience allowing me to better understand inequity in healthcare. I am passionate about reducing the gap in the quality of healthcare received by minority groups.

Allison Choi

Allison Choi

My name is Allison and I joined HESP Honors in Fall 2022. I plan to graduate in Spring of 2024 and pursue an AuD degree. Outside of the honors program, I am a creative writing minor and am on the executive board of UMCP's chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. I am also a member of the Auditory Perception and Modeling Lab where I am currently involved in a study concerning interaural time differences and its interaction between age and hearing loss. My prospective research will most likely follow a relevant path.

Sierra Hall

Sierra Hall

My name is Sierra Hall and I joined the HESP Honors Program in Fall 2022. I plan to graduate in Spring 2024 and pursue a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. My main interest in research is studying whether or not there is a connection between language bias and interpersonal relationships in children. Outside of the honors program, I am a musical director for my Acapella group and I work in the Nyumburu Cultural Center as a student ambassador. I am also a Peer Mentor in the Hesp SIGNA program. I have had the honor of also volunteering in Dr. Edwards’ Learning to Talk Lab and was a Team Lead and Mentor in Maryland Mentor Corps. In July 2022, I received my citation for UMD’s Justice and Legal Thought Scholar’s Program. Using all the awareness and knowledge I gained, I yearn to be an inclusive therapist who is attentive to cultural differences and builds a connection with my clients.

 James Harvey

James Harvey

My name is James Harvey and I joined HESP Honors in Fall 2023. I plan to graduate in December 2024 and pursue a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology with the intention of also pursuing a PhD. Outside of honors, I am on the CLISO and NSSLHA boards and a member of the first REACH cohort. I work under Dr. Huang in the language and cognition lab and my research interests are in child language development, the impact of socioeconomic status on language, and how our environment influences us.

Avery Vess

Avery Vess

My name is Avery Vess and I joined the honors program during the Fall 2022 semester. I plan to graduate in Spring 2024. After graduation, I hope to pursue a degree in Speech-Language Pathology and eventually go on to get my Ph.D. My research, in Dr. Novick’s Cognition and Language Processing Lab, focuses on whether cognitive mechanisms related to “set-shifting”: the ability to flexibly alternate between tasks or mental sets, are involved when switching topics
during conversation. Some activities I do outside of the honors program include being Vice-Chair and HESP representative for the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, being on the Executive Board for Mortar Board Honors Society, working as a Desk Operations Supervisor for Resident Life, PULSAR, and assisting in the Language and Fluency Lab.

Jasmine Wathen

Jasmine Wathen

My name is Jasmine and I joined HESP Honors in Spring 2023. I plan to graduate in Spring 2024 and obtain my master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. I have an interest in neuroscience, and my research involves using EEG to look at timing differences in how people who stutter process language. Outside of HESP honors, I am a member of NSSLHA and work as a Community Assistant for Resident Life. I am also active in intramural sports at the university, and some of my favorite sports are softball, volleyball, and soccer. I am an alumnus of the Environment, Technology, and Economy scholars, where I learned about environmental justice and broadened my knowledge of inequality issues.

Last modified
09/27/2023 - 9:02 am