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Foster Honors

Foster Honors is designed to enrich the experience of Foster’s highest achieving students. The goal of the program is to allow students to deepen and intensify their knowledge of business practice and theory. The honors program offers opportunities for research and class-based projects, honors sections of two business classes, and greater access and contact with researchers and practitioners. This access includes access to seminar-style presentations and networking events, to lunches with faculty members to discuss research and new business practice, and to lunches and dinners with practitioners.

Students in Foster Honors will demonstrate greater initiative and purpose and will be rewarded with additional recognition, skills, and knowledge. Honors students graduate from the Foster School “With Distinction.” Employers and graduate schools will factor into their decisions that such students have a high GPA and voluntarily chose to pursue a more difficult pathway.


During the autumn quarter, Foster students meeting the following criteria will be invited to join the Foster Honors Program.

  • Completion of at least 60 credits with a cumulative GPA of 3.7 or higher (3.5 for students in the UW College Honors Program)
  • A minimum of 24 graded credits in residence at the UW

Once admitted, students must maintain a cumulative and Business GPA of 3.5 or higher to graduate “With Distinction” from the Foster School of Business.


The Honors program consists of 14 credits, of which only two are incremental and 12 replace existing work. There are no additional tuition or fees. The requirements are:

  • BA 390, 2 credits, winter quarter, junior year. Introduction to working with Honors students at an advanced level with a focus on critical thinking and producing research-backed solution proposals for management.
  • Two ad hocs or multiple independent research studies (499), totaling 8 credits. Replaces or enhances existing credit hours.
  • MGMT 430, 4 credits, senior year. A Senior Capstone Honors project attached to existing course in which students participate in a team decision making and leadership simulation.

The program is designed to be completed during junior and senior year, although that timing is not strictly required. Students should plan to take BA 390 during winter quarter of their junior year, MGMT 430 in their senior year, and place the ad hocs or 499s in the quarters between 390 and 430.

Students who complete the Foster Honors Program will graduate from the Foster School “With Distinction” if they complete the honors credit requirement and maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 in Business and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 at the UW. College Honors students who complete the Foster Honors Program will graduate “With College Honors.”

In addition to the requirements stated above, you must schedule an appointment with the Foster Honors adviser at least once each academic year. During the appointment you will review progress toward completion of honors requirements. To schedule an appointment call 206.685.3400.

Ad Hoc and 499 Undergraduate Research Guidelines

The ad hoc process transforms a business course into an Honors designated course by working with your instructor to create a special project or paper in addition to the regular requirements of the course. Underlying ad hoc and 499 undergraduate research credit is the assumption that the Honors student is interested in pursuing the subject to greater depth and more intensity than that of the regular class and is prepared to undertake the extra work to do so. Honors credit reflects qualities of scholarly effort beyond the ordinary.

NOTE: Upper Division Business Core courses (i.e. MKTG 301, MGMT 300) should not be used for ad hoc credit. An exception is made occasionally, and approval is at the discretion of the Foster Honors faculty adviser.

Ad Hoc and 499 Undergraduate Research Information

Click on each heading to learn more.

An ad hoc is a project with a deliverable that grows out of an upper-division business elective. Possible options include writing a paper that expands on a topic discussed in class, giving a special presentation to the class, or conducting independent research on a topic covered in class. Honors projects should reflect researching, reading, analyzing, and summarizing material not covered in the course. The requirements include:

  1. An agreement at the beginning of the quarter between the student and professor that
    • Outlines the project and how it will be accomplished
    • Describes how the work will differ from the standard coursework
    • Explains the motivation and goals of the student in pursuing the topic
    • Defines the criteria for success
    • Plans a series of meetings between the student and professor
  2. A deliverable at the end of the quarter that fulfills the goals in the agreement.
    • The deliverable can be a paper, presentation, etc. as long as it demonstrates a student has achieved the goals of the project.
    • The project should be roughly equal to the effort involved in a 30-page research paper.
    • Any 400-level Foster course can be selected, in principle, for an ad hoc provided the student and instructor agree on a project.

Successful completion of an ad hoc is indicated by an “H” on the transcript next to the course.

The project guidelines for an ad hoc and Honors 499 are the same. The key difference is in credits awarded and independence.

An Honors 499 undergraduate research project is independent of other coursework. The possibilities include assisting a faculty member with his or her research or working under faculty supervision on something of interest to the student. The work receives from 1-6 credits depending on the amount of work required for successful completion of the 499. Typically, students complete the 499 for 4 credits to help achieve the 8 credits total required to complete the Honors ad hoc requirement. The credit will not count toward option electives.

There are two important differences between an ad hoc and an Honors 499: credits and independence. An ad hoc does not generate additional credits, and it adds to an upper-division business elective. In contrast, a 499 is a 1-6 credit (typically 4 credit) course that stands independent of other course material, thus it will add additional credits to a student’s academic plan.
The UW Honors Ad Hoc website contains a schedule and other useful information. For University purposes, “Foster Honors” is “Departmental Honors” as opposed to “Interdisciplinary Honors.”

  1. Contact the instructor before the start of the quarter to discuss the concept of an Honors ad hoc along with your ideas for a project. It is important to have at least one idea you would like to pursue. If you are unsure, ask the instructor for a copy of the syllabus beforehand and read his or her bio.
  2. If you are completing an independent research 499 project, register for the 499 course by the 5th day of the quarter. Use the professor’s faculty code as the Add Code to register for the course. You should register for the 499 course in the respective faculty’s department (i.e. FIN 499, MKTG 499, etc.).
  3. Complete and submit the ad hoc proposal online through the UW Honors website. The deadline for the proposal is typically the second week of the quarter. Use the Foster Honors adviser’s name and email in the proposal submission, even if you regularly work with another adviser. The same proposal is used for both the ad hoc and 499 option.
  4. You will receive an email from the UW Honors Program after your adviser has reviewed your application and again after your instructor has reviewed the application. It is your responsibility to ensure the adviser and instructor submit their approval via the online system. You may receive an email to revise the original application per adviser comments.
  5. Once approved, complete your ad hoc project.
  6. At the end of the quarter, your instructor will receive an email asking him or her to submit final confirmation of completion of your project. It is your responsibility to ensure the instructor provides this final confirmation via the online system.
  7. At the end of the quarter, email a copy of your final project to the Foster Honors adviser.
FIN 460: “Investment Strategies and Institutional Form: The Low-Volatility Anomaly”
The goal of this project is to asses the risk and return of exploiting a known stock market anomaly (called the low volatility anomaly) and to determine the best asset management vehicle for this strategy. To asses the risk and return of the strategy, the student will replicate the strategy using data from the Harvard case “Martingale Asset Management,” and combine that with factor returns from Ken French’s Data Library to implement factor regressions. The analysis will include sensitivity analysis to understand the extent to which the trading limitations placed on different investment vehicles (e.g. long/short funds versus long only funds) impact the ability to exploit the anomaly.

QMETH 450: “Benchmarking with US News at Seattle Children’s”
The goal of this project is to reverse engineer the algorithm the US News and World Report uses to rank hospitals and then asses the most cost-effective way that Seattle Children’s can improve its ranking. The project will involve extensive consultation with Seattle Children’s Research Institute, the use of publicly available data from and about US News rankings, and other public sources of information about outcomes at other hospitals.

I BUS 440: “Amazon in Korea”
This project is a case study on Amazon’s expansion into South Korea. The project will use publicly available data, including media in the U.S. and South Korea. The case study will take the form of a detailed SWOT analysis, a 3C analysis, and a five forces analysis, building on what the student has learned in class and applying it to a single company/market match. The report will present detailed recommendations for how Amazon can implement their expansion plans.

MGMT 499: “How Instantaneous Payments Could Change Employee Compensation”
The goal of this project is to study how timing of compensation impacts both employees and employers. Today, we live in a world where many people are compensated immediately for their work – from Uber drivers to freelance workers. However, there has been no change in the standard paycheck every two weeks system of compensation for most workers. This project will attempt to introduce compensation frequency as a factor in determining employee motivation. The student will analyze the benefits to employers of delayed payments and the impacts of instantaneous payments on employee motivation and behavior. The student will use cash flow models, research on spending behavior, surveys, and federal reserve statistics to complete the analysis.

ACCTG 499: “Researching Trends in SEC Litigation”
The goal of this project is to research the types of actions and companies that the SEC pursues for violations of securities law. The first phase of the project will be to compile, analyze, and summarize SEC litigation documentation to create a substantial data set, as well as learn how to code using the SAS language. The second phase of the project will be to perform advanced statistical analysis on the data set, as well as financial statement and stock return data on companies from Wharton Research Data Services. Specifically, the student will conduct multivariate regressions to study time-series changes in the profiles of firms that are suspected of committing violations of securities law. The student will prepare a written report that explains the findings of the trends in SEC litigation over time.

Instructor supervision of an ad hoc or research honors 499 is restricted to instructors who have previous experience teaching the course (in the case of ad hoc) or expertise in the research area (for 499 research). The role of the faculty member is to work with the Foster Honors student throughout the project, assist in developing goals, meet with the student regularly to discuss the project, and assess achievements at the conclusion of the quarter. Both the student and instructor are committing themselves to extra effort.
Q: What happens if I do not complete or fail an ad hoc?

A: Nothing. Your transcript records an “H” if you succeed in your ad hoc project, but there is no record if you don’t complete the ad hoc project. The course grade is not affected by the outcome of your ad hoc project.

Q: What happens if I do not complete or fail an Honors independent research 499?

A: Since this is a separate class, you would receive a failing grade on your transcript for the 499 course. If you are registered for 499 independent research and do not plan to complete the project, you will need to drop the course by applicable university deadlines.

Q: Can I work together with another student on an ad hoc or honors 499?

A: Yes, if the instructor agrees and if the project demonstrates twice the ambition and learning of individual work.

Q: Can I change my project midway through the quarter?

A: Yes, if the instructor agrees. If the change is major (e.g. the first project wasn’t going to work and now you want to do something completely different), then the Foster Honors faculty director has to approve as well.