Honors Program

The Honors Program in English begins with applying in the second semester of the junior year and extends through the entire senior year.

We invite and encourage you to contemplate this challenging intellectual adventure. The process involves proposing, researching, discussing, writing, revising, and publically presenting a thesis or project. Students in the program also take two honors courses (English 498 and English 499) during senior year and work throughout the year with their Project Director, an assigned Reader, the Program Coordinator, and the writers' group of other honors candidates.

Why Honors

Honors is an unparalleled opportunity to explore a research topic in depth, or draft a major work of your own writing in the genre of your own choosing.  At graduation, you will not only have the Honors designation, but a substantive work that you'll have created over an extended period of time.

We strongly encourage you to apply for Honors if you are:

  • Considering applying to a graduate program. It will enhance your experiences, your candidacy, and may even help you decide whether to pursue graduate studies.
  • If you are a writer seeking to publish your creative work after graduation.

Prerequisites for Application

  • GPA 3.5 in major; 3.2 overall
  • Appropriate course work in proposed field

Preparing to Apply for Honors

  • Review your transcript. Consider what you have studied, what you wish to pursue, and how your intellectual and creative interests might benefit from the Honors process.
  • Talk with your adviser about whether Honors will complement your development as an English major and seek guidance from the Program Director.
  • When contemplating a thesis, remember that Honors English Theses take two forms:  Critical and Creative.  Discuss your ideas with a potential thesis Director.
  • Attend the spring Honors Colloquium and the Honors Information session (TBD) and send the Program Director a one-sentence statement of intent via email by early March (TBD)

Application for Critical Theses 

If you wish to form a thesis statement about an existing literary work or works and perform critical research and analysis you must complete:

  • A maximum 2-page (double-spaced) topic proposal accompanied by the Honors Application Form
  • Writing sample (maximum 5 pages)
  • Due first week in May (precise date TBA)

Application for Creative Theses

If you wish to hone your creative writing skills within a specific literary discipline you must complete:

  • Maximum 2-page (double-spaced) descriptive document in which candidates identify the genre or genres in which they propose to write, list contemporary writers whose works inform their own writing, and briefly detail aesthetic concerns and literary interests
  • Writing sample (maximum 5 pages of poetry; 10 pages of prose)
  • Due first week in May (precise date TBA)

Whether you draft a critical or creative proposal, remember it will be read by all English Department faculty, many of whom will not be familiar with your work or with the specifics of your proposed project.  So be clear, concrete, and use accessible language.  Equally, your writing sample should showcase your verbal abilities and reveal you at your intellectual and creative best.

Turn in the Honors Application Form, your proposal, and your writing sample in hard copy to the Program Director. Collate and paper clip, but do not staple the pages.

Evaluation of Applications

  • Evaluation meeting is conducted by the Honors Coordinator with an identical process for each applicant
  • Proposals are discussed and accepted by departmental vote using the following criteria:
    • Prerequisite course work
    • Quality of proposal and writing sample
    • Willingness of a faculty member to direct the proposed project
    • Comments from faculty
  • End of May:  The Coordinator notifies those admitted to Honors

For a timetable of what happens if you're accepted as an Honors Candidate, see Honors Curriculum and Designation.

For additional inspiration and clarification regarding potential theses, we encourage you to visit the College Archives, where all English theses are on file for your review.