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Honors Curriculum & Designation

Once admitted as an Honors candidate, planning becomes an important part of completing the curriculum and achieving an Honors designation.

Establishing Guidelines

All Honors candidates meet with their committee to discuss the specific parameters of what is expected out of the project in terms of length, research, etc..  But some general guidelines include a length of:

Critical thesis:

  • 9,000 to maximum of 15,000 words, including notes (but not bibliography)
  • Director, Reader, and Student agree by beginning of Spring semester on appropriate word limit

Creative thesis:

  • Maximum 45 pages for poetry
  • Maximum 90 pages for prose
  • Maximum 60 pages for drama
  • Maximum 30 minutes for films

A reading list will be established as well.

Approximate Timetable


The Coordinator notifies those admitted to Honors

July 1

Reader chooses 2-3 books, and the Director can take that number up to 10; the Director sends the reading list to the Student, Reader, and Coordinator during the first week of July; the books are to be read by Oct 1;

First week of classes

Director, Reader, and Student meet to establish ground rules; establish weekly tutorials;

Early Oct

Exam on/conversation about the first half of the reading list during English 498 for both critical and creative thesis writers; the next set of ten books is agreed upon.

Nov - Dec

The 498 Fall Colloquium is held.  Students give 8-10 minute presentations, followed by formal question and answer period for each project. 

Mid December

First 1/3rd of thesis due; content to be determined by Director. This 1/3rd project draft is read by the Director, the Reader, and the Honors Coordinator

Late Jan

For creative writers only: Exam on the second set of up to ten books during English 499;

Early Feb

Workshops conducted by the Directors during English 499 (Readers attend)

Mid Feb

Second 1/3rd of thesis due

Mid March

A complete draft of the project is submitted to the Director, Reader and Honors Coordinator; written responses on the thesis draft by Director, Reader, and Honors Coordinator are due back to the student within 14 days

Late March - early April

Spring Colloquium for the creative writers (who read) and scholars (who either read the high points of their theses or extemporize); Students give 7-10 minute presentations, followed by a question and answer period. 

Mid April

Final Project Due

April - May

Defense for the scholars, including the second half of the field exam

April - May

Part of 499, private, 1-hour defenses of critical theses with the Director, Reader, and Program Coordinator

To Qualify for Honors

Honors are awarded at graduation time, at the discretion of the English Department, and provided ALL criteria below have been met by the candidate:

  • 3.5 major GPA at the time of graduation and 3.2 overall GPA
  • 10 courses in the major (including courses required of all majors)
  • 2 additional courses: English 498 and 499
  • Creative thesis writers are expected to take a writing course in the appropriate genre if one is offered in the senior year
  • A grade of at least B+ in both English 498 and 499