School of Humanities and Cultural Studies

Departmental Honors Program

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Through its Honors Program, the History program offers you the opportunity to engage in more advanced research and writing than the regular major program requires, if you have demonstrated very strong academic ability. The program can be of particular benefit to you if you intend to undertake graduate study or pursue a career in history, but Honors is not limited to only those students.

If you complete the requirements described below, you will graduate “With Honors in History.” If you complete these requirements and also take the requisite courses prescribed by the University Honors Program, you will graduate as a “University Honors Scholar.”

Requirements for Honors Degree in History

  1. Complete all Department of History major requirements except History 4900 (Research Seminar).
  2. Complete History 4980 (History Honors Project), for 6-9 credit hours, with a grade of “A” or “B.” This replaces History 4900.
  3. Complete University Honors 4000 (interdisciplinary University Honors Seminar on varying topics), with a grade of “A” or “B.”
  4. Maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in all courses and 3.5 in history courses.

Eligibility for Admission

  • Cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in all courses and 3.5 in history courses.
  • Completion of at least 12 credit hours in advanced courses in history.
  • Preparation and approval of senior honors project to be completed in History 4980. Approval of the project must occur by the end of the first semester of the student's senior year.

Senior Honors Thesis Proposal

  1. The student will ask three full-time faculty members (tenured, tenure-track, full-time lecturer/instructor) to form a thesis committee. The student will, in consultation with one or more of these faculty members, select the chair of the committee. The chair will be the instructor of record and the principle advisor for the thesis. At least two members of the committee must be from the history department. In exceptional circumstances and when academically advisable, a larger committee may be formed.
  2. In consultation with the committee, the student will prepare a proposal (PDF) for a research project that will culminate in the writing of a senior thesis. The committee chair will ordinarily supervise the student’s subsequent research and writing, with the final thesis being approved by the entire committee. The proposal should indicate the number of credit hours (6-9) for which the student will enroll in History 4980.
  3. The proposal must be approved by the entire committee before the end of the semester before which the student plans to enroll in the thesis hours.
  4. The proposal must also include an annotated bibliography of the major sources the student will examine in the research phase of the project. This bibliography, distinguishing between primary sources that will enable the student to do original work and secondary sources, should be at least three pages long.

Description of the Thesis

The thesis should be 40-60 pages long. It should draw extensively on primary sources, show an awareness of other scholarly contributions to the field, and contribute to the body of scholarly information.


Upon completion of the thesis, the faculty advisor chair of the committee will read it and, if it is found to be satisfactory, will pass it on to the rest of the committee for their approval. After the entire committee has approved it, the student will meet with the committee to discuss the results. This process will last no longer than one hour and, at the student’s discretion, be open to the public.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the committee will advise the committee chair, who is the instructor of record, on a grade for the thesis. For departmental or university honors, the student must receive a grade of “A” or “B.” If the student receives a passing grade lower than a “B,” the hours earned in History 4980 will count as elective credit hours, and the student will not graduate with honors.

Religion, Philosophy, and Classics

Highly qualified majors in Religion, Philosophy, and Classics may choose to graduate with Departmental Honors. The student must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 and a GPA in the major of at least a 3.5.

In order to obtain Departmental Honors, the student must successfully complete an Honors project. It is expected that the student will have significant course work in the area being investigated.The project will usually extend over two consecutive terms and earn six hours of credit upon its successful completion. The project will normally culminate in the writing of a major research paper (25-30 pages) or a series of related shorter papers during the second term and an oral defense of the project with the department faculty. A letter grade will be assigned to the two-term project as a whole, based essentially on the written project.


  1. Consult with the department chairperson who will explain the policy and suggest an appropriate faculty advisor.
  2. Discuss the proposed project with the suggested faculty member.
  3. Draft a concise statement on the scope and purpose of the project.
  4. Compile a preliminary bibliography of books and articles.
  5. Submit a request for the approval of the Honors project and an application for independent study to the department faculty.
  6. Establish with the faculty advisor the precise goals to be achieved by the end of the first term in order to continue the project into the second term.
  7. Meet regularly with the advisor to discuss readings, explore possible topics, refine ideas and work toward articulating a thesis, outline, and bibliography by the end of the term.
  8. If the faculty advisor and the student agree to continue the project for a second term, submit a brief progress report and another application for independent study to the department. If the proposal has undergone a major change, departmental approval must be obtained.
  9. Early in the second term, students preparing a written research paper must submit their working outlines to the department faculty for their information and constructive criticism.
  10. Continue regular meetings with the faculty advisor to explore further research and criticize drafts of the final project.
  11. Submit enough copies of the final project for each member of the department. Written projects should generally be 25-30 pages in length and should follow consistently a standard style manual such as Turabian (Chicago) or the Modern Language Association.


  1. Normally an Honors project should be completed one full term before the student expects to graduate. The final project should be submitted to the department one week before the end of classes. In the exceptional case when an Honors project is being completed in the term the student expects to graduate, the final project should be submitted at least two weeks before the end of the term.
  2. Independent study applications, using the course number 4970 (Senior Project), should be submitted to the departmental office by the beginning of the ninth week of classes in the term prior to the term in which the project will be pursued. For projects beginning in the Fall term, the application should be received no later than one week before the start of classes.
  3. The progress report and second application for independent study should be submitted to the chair at the beginning of the ninth week of the first term.
  4. Notify the University Honors Program upon successful completion of the project to insure that graduation with Honors is recognized.

Application and Policy

Honors Application and Policy (PDF)


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