Your Four Years

In addition to their enrollment in the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Honors College, students pursue a major in one of Boston University’s eight undergraduate schools and colleges. There are seven required components of the Kilachand Honors College curriculum:

The First-Year Seminars

During the first year, students take two seminars—one in the fall semester, one in the spring semester—that introduce them to research, creation, and discovery through an intensive look at an example of current work in a specific discipline. Seminars give students the chance to explore important contemporary themes and problems in different fields.

The First-Year Studios

Studios foster writing, research, and quantitative skills by exploring fundamental ethical, aesthetic, and social issues. They focus on the themes and problems raised by provocative modernist texts drawn from literature, film, psychology, philosophy, and the arts.

The Second Year

During the second year, students take a two-semester sequence, The Nature of Inquiry, that examines how we investigate nature, art, society and their interconnections. It does so by examining and juxtaposing the practices of three disciplines per semester. The fields in question may vary, but they are chosen to ensure intellectual breadth. The individual units are tied together by reference to an underlying common theme (e.g. The City, Healthy Populations).  Throughout the course, students consider fundamental ethical, social, and aesthetic issues posed by the relationship of human beings to each other, nature, and works of art.

The Third Year

In the third year, students take a one-semester course, The Process of Discovery, aimed at helping them design their keystone project that they will undertake in their senior year. The course is structured around three basic activities: individual and group analysis of innovative research drawn from a variety of intellectual disciplines; individual writing aimed at fostering intellectual discovery, methodological rigor, and project design; and group activities aimed at honing project design and presentation skills. Focusing on specific case studies, students explore the structure of the discovery process, including how researchers embed imaginative questions in viable research projects and balance creative ambition with intellectual modesty. After breaking into smaller groups so that students can work on developing their research agendas and honing their presentation skills, students present their keystone project to their peers.  

The Fourth Year

The culmination of the fourth year curriculum is a two-semester senior sequence with two parts. First, students take KHC 501-502, Innovation, Culture, and Society, which examines the process and impact of innovation in a variety of spheres (e.g. aesthetic, scientific, technological, educational, political, commercial, and urban). Second, they concurrently take KHC 503-504, in which they work on and complete their keystone projects in close conjunction with their faculty advisers. Although 501-502 and 503-04 are distinct courses, they are closely interrelated:  Students periodically present and workshop their keystone projects in 501-502 and plan an-end-of year symposium in which they present their projects.

The keystone project is a substantial, in-depth work of research or creative project roughly equivalent to an honors thesis. Its form may vary from field to field, but it should emphasize intellectual creativity and aim for the highest standards of the disciplinary or interdisciplinary area in question. For example, students of international relations might write a policy paper; biomedical engineers might create a device; stage designers might create a set for a specific play; a business student might design a playground for disabled children; visual artists might create a pop-up gallery; an ecologist might design a study of the urban heat environment. 

Co-Curricular Activities

Our Co-curricular program illuminates the backstory of creative activity in the arts, sciences, and professions by exposing students to nationally and internationally distinguished figures doing exciting work in different fields, including literature, the arts, science and technology, law, medicine, and business. Activities include performances, readings, talks, and site-visits to leading Boston cultural institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts, WGBH, the Huntington Theatre, and the Boston Ballet. The co-curricular program is an essential and required component of the Kilachand Honors College curriculum and is designed to allow students to interact with committed, stimulating, and accomplished faculty and thinkers inside and outside of Boston University. 


The keystone project is a substantial, in-depth work of research, creation, or invention in a student’s chosen field. The primary purpose of the keystone projects is to provide students with a sustained experience of intellectual discovery. That experience begins in the junior year, when students learn to balance the excitement of imaginative approaches to their intellectual interests with the rigor of field-specific methodologies, and work on the design of their research or creative project. The process continues in the senior year, when students conduct their research, create their artwork, or invent their devices, and assess the significance of the work they have done.