Senior Honors Thesis

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Molly Worthen

The history honors program culminates in the writing of a Senior Honors Essay, a mature and polished piece of historical research and argument ranging from fifty to seventy pages.

Each year, at the beginning of the spring semester, the department invites the application of rising seniors who have an overall academic average of 3.3 or better, who (under normal circumstances) have an average of 3.4 or better in history courses, and who will have successfully completed at least one Undergraduate Seminar in History 398.

The basic structure for the senior honors program is provided by History 691H and 692H, an intense year-long research and writing seminar conducted by the department’s honors director. In addition to weekly seminar meetings with approximately fifteen students, each honors candidate holds regular meetings with an honors adviser, a faculty member with knowledge of the given field. During the fall semester (691H), students concentrate on defining a theme of research and interpretation, while simultaneously exploring the varieties of inquiry, research strategies, and writing styles common to the field. The objective of this semester is to complete a substantial portion of the honors thesis in draft form.

The spring semester (692H) is occupied with the completion of the final parts of the research essay. Following submission of the essay in late March, a period of evaluation begins. Each essay is initially read by the student’s adviser and a second reader, before whom the student orally defends the work. This committee of two certifies the attainment of Honors and, in exceptional cases, recommends a work for consideration for Highest Honors. An honors prize committee makes the final determinations for Highest Honors and awards the Frank Ryan Prize to the best essay of the year. Awards are normally announced at a year-ending honors lunch celebrating the achievements of the department’s distinguished undergraduates.

Applications should include:

  1. The Application form (found here)
  2. a one-page proposal, including a one-paragraph description of your topic, several questions you are asking about the topic (i.e., what you want to discover or learn), and a short list of sources, especially primary sources
  3. the name of a history professor who has agreed to be your adviser and with whom you have discussed your topic
  4. the course name, number and instructor of your history 398 seminar
  5. a sample of your writing in a history course (preferably, but not necessarily, a History 398 paper).

Applications are due in late February of a student’s junior year (a specific due date will be announced each year by email). You will be notified about your acceptance into the honors program within a few weeks.

In addition to having completed a 398 research seminar, having a 3.3 Cumulative GPA, 3.4 History GPA, and having found a faculty adviser for your topic, it is highly recommended that you apply for summer research funding from the SURF Program.

Receiving SURF funds is not a condition for acceptance to the Honors program.

Read about the 2018 honors theses!

Read about the 2017 honors theses!

Read About the 2016 honors theses!

Read About the 2015 honors theses!

Read about the 2014 honors theses!

Read about the 2013 honors theses!

Read about the 2012 honors theses!

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