Graduation with Distinction – Nicholas School Undergraduate Programs

Graduation with Distinction

Both the ENVIRON and EOS degrees offer a Graduation with Distinction option for students demonstrating excellence both in their academic programs and the completion of a substantive thesis based on an independent research project. Interested students with a 3.0 grade point average overall and a 3.2 grade point average in their major should apply at the beginning of their senior year by submitting the form for Graduation with Distinction to the Undergraduate Program Office by October 1. Major GPA is calculated using only core and focus study courses (excluding independent research study courses) and not co-requisites.  More information about calculating GPA can be found on the Office of the University Registrar’s site ( See the Application and Deadlines tab for more information.

Participants write a substantial thesis (25-50 page research paper) describing their completed research. The format of the thesis is determined by the advisor to take into account the particular research field of the project. Students must also present a poster of their completed research, usually in mid-April, that is evaluated by a three-member committee. The committee is composed of the advisor, a member of the Nicholas School faculty, and one of the Director of Undergraduate Studies or Director of Undergraduate Programs. The student is also expected to participate in bimonthly GWD workshops about topics relevant to the research process through their Senior year.

Graduation with Distinction candidates normally enroll in an Independent Research Study course (ENVIRON/EOS 393 (one semester) or 393/394 for 2 semesters) supervised by the research advisor; this course cannot be used to satisfy the major requirements. However, if a student conducts a larger, full-year research project and enrolls in two independent study courses, the student may count one of the two independent study courses toward the major requirements, if allowed by their major advisor. Note that the grade assigned by the faculty advisor for the independent study course is independent of the committee’s determination of whether or not to award graduation with distinction.

Duke Libraries offer undergraduate students working on honors theses special privileges.  More information can be found here.