Honors Program

Admission + general requirements

To be considered for the Honors Program and ultimately earn an Honors notation, a student must maintain an overall 3.3 grade point average, with a 3.5 average in English courses.

During their first years as an English major, potential Honors students should try to form a clear picture of their research interests. They should select courses that will help to establish both a strong base in a chosen area of interest and a working relationship with a suitable faculty advisor.

By March 1 of the junior year, you should have found an advisor who agrees to sponsor your project. In coordination with the academic advisor, you begin to compile application materials: the application form (PDF, DOC), a transcript, a statement of intent (1-2 pages), a writing sample (5-6 pages), and a summer reading list (1-2 pages).

An English major who has demonstrated exceptional ability in at least one of the creative writing workshops at the 300- or 400-level may apply to the program as a creative writer. This application will also require a faculty advisor and a similar set of application materials, although the writing sample requirement is slightly different (4-6 poems or 10-15 pages of prose). In general, the thesis and schedule to complete the Honors Program will be subject to the same conditions.

For both critical and creative writing projects, the application is due on April 1. Once it is approved by the Honors committee, you should enroll in the Fall semester of L499 and begin work on your summer reading list.

The Honors schedule

Apart from the general coursework undertaken by the English major, the Honors Program formally occupies three semesters and consists of four parts:

  1. Spring of junior year: application due
  2. Summer before senior year: exploratory reading
  3. Fall of senior year: research semester (L499)
  4. Spring of senior year: writing semester (L499)

During the senior year, each Honors student takes two semesters of L499 (for 2 credits each). Student and advisor work together to design a meeting schedule that is suitable to both, typically meeting every week or two to develop a research program and ultimately complete the thesis. Throughout this year, the student also meets regularly with the Honors Program director and the other Honors students to discuss research agendas, methodologies, and progress.

By the middle of the Fall semester, the candidate must complete a brief thesis prospectus. It should consist of a detailed statement of the aims of the thesis (2-3 pages) accompanied by a bibliography of completed and projected reading (1-2 pages).

Copies of the prospectus are given to members the Honors Committee, who must approve the project before the student enrolls in a second semester of L499. A student who has nothing to show for the thesis by October registration must wait for authorization to add L499 at the start of the spring semester. If by then progress remains unsatisfactory, the student will be dropped from the Honors Program. In that case, credit for the L499 in which the student was enrolled will be given on completion of a certain amount of written work to be determined by the director of the thesis or the director of honors.

One week after spring break, the student is expected to hand in a completed draft of the thesis to his or her advisor. Then, by the second week of April, having responded to the advisor’s final set of comments, the student must submit a final copy of the thesis to the advisor, the Honors Program director, and a reader.

Students may, in consultation with their advisors, choose their reader from amongst the tenure-track faculty members of the English Department; otherwise, a reader will be assigned from the current members of the Honors Committee.

In the last week of April, during a one-hour exam, the student must defend the thesis before their advisor and the reader. The advisor and reader determine whether the candidate should graduate with Honors in English; they report their decision to the Honors Program director. This decision has no effect on the grade for Senior Independent Study, which is assigned solely by the thesis advisor. The candidate must maintain a minimum College GPA of 3.300 to graduate with honors.