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Departmental Honors Requirements

To receive Departmental Honors credit, a student must undertake two consecutive semesters of research/study. These two courses may be counted toward the eight course Honors requirement. To apply for Departmental Honors, a student must have a 3.5 GPA.

Departmental Honors Thesis: A Description

The Departmental Honors Thesis should be original in its conception and analysis. This may mean the discovery of new knowledge, the reinterpretation of standard methods, theories and assumptions, or the formulation of data produced from fresh investigations. The Departmental Honors Thesis should be the result of serious research, original thinking and a clear understanding of the context in which this research is conducted. The Departmental Honors Thesis may take many forms: traditional narrative/analysis, in-depth study of specific texts or themes, empirical research, practical applications or a creative/inventive endeavor. Students submitting a proposal for a Departmental Honors Thesis should provide evidence of background knowledge and requisite skills before they begin their work. The final result will be shared in an oral presentation, as well as in a written thesis, and should place the specific topic in a broader scholarly context by demonstrating familiarity with the authoritative literature and research on the subject.

Projects involving empirical research should develop a coherent hypothesis, and test it professionally and systematically. Length may vary according to each subject; however, it is expected that Departmental Honors Theses will be in the range of 60-80 pages, independent of bibliography, and that they will be documented in accordance with the standards of the relevant discipline and include an abstract, title-page, table of contents, introduction, notes and bibliography. The final copy of the thesis should be clean, readable, and grammatically consistent and correct.

Procedures and Deadlines

In mid-February of their junior year, candidates planning to write a Departmental Honors Thesis should contact the Assistant to the Director of the Honors Program, who will arrange to have them meet members of the senior class working on Departmental Honors Thesis projects. These sessions will be administered either by the Director or the Associate Director of the Honors Program, and the focus will be on the requirements, preparation and contents of the various theses. By April 15 of their junior year, students should confirm with the Director of the Honors Program their intention to pursue the Departmental Honors Thesis. The Departmental Honors application is available online at They will be expected to outline a general area of research and to name a primary advisor for the project. They will also be required to attend one of the oral presentations being given by senior students towards the end of the semester, and to select their advisor for the Departmental Honors Thesis. Students will be expected to remain in touch with their advisors throughout the summer months as they conduct preliminary research into their topics. By September 15, each student must submit a Departmental Honors Thesis proposal contract, which can be obtained online at This form, which will outline the work load, general objectives and schedule of meetings to be held during the semester, should be signed and approved by their mentor. By October 1, each candidate should also select a second reader for the thesis, after consulting with their adviser. The second reader should be from a different department, who has a compatible interest in the thesis topic. The second reader will serve to offer advice, criticism and suggestions throughout the process of the Departmental Honors Thesis. By November 15, a joint meeting including the Honors Director or Associate Director, the Departmental Honors Thesis candidate, the mentor and the second reader should be arranged. At this meeting, the student will provide a clear progress report of the work completed and an outline of what lies ahead.

A first draft of the entire project must be presented to the mentor for critical review by March 1 of the senior year. By April 20th, the student must submit a final draft to his/her mentor, to the members of the examination committee consisting of at least two additional faculty members (including the second reader), normally from the disciplines in which the research has been carried out, and to the Honors Director. An oral presentation of the project to the examination committee, Honors Director, and the Associate Director will occur sometime before the end of the final examination period. The members of the examination committee are asked to sign a copy of the project which will indicate that the student has passed the oral exam. The grade for the entire research project will be determined by the mentor. A copy of the signed, completed project is to be filed with the Honors Director and the appropriate department Chair before recognition can be given at graduation.