An Honors project can be very exciting. It is your chance to do independent work. This project will span two semesters on a topic to be determined by you and your faculty advisor and a second reader. Honors in American Studies will enhance your application to graduate and professional schools. Those who undertake and complete independent honors work will be able to include a sample of your best written work in your applications.
A candidate must have a 3.0 overall GPA and a 3.4 GPA in the major. Working toward Honors means registering for 050:495 fall semester and 050:496 in the spring semester-- doing an Independent Study of superior caliber. One faculty member serves as your advisor, and another as your reader. Senior Honors thesis writers will meet a few times in the fall semester as a writing group. At the end of the project, all candidates for honors present work to the entire American Studies faculty. The faculty as a group determines which projects will be awarded honors.
Please note that all senior majors must take a senior seminar. Before registering for classes for the fall, feel free to discuss Honors with any of the American Studies faculty. Your faculty adviser will work with you from the inception of the project to its end, serving as a kind of coach to help you produce your best work. In order to assist you before approaching an advisor, please fill out this form.
General guidelines for Honors Theses:
Students should engage in original research, culminating in a 40-page (minimum) research paper, or equivalent. The thesis must include primary and secondary sources. [Students who plan to submit research projects in other media, ie documentary film, etc, must consult with their advisor in preparing a 10-15-page presentation of the project.]
Honors theses are year-long projects. The advisor and student must be aware of the following deadlines:
- Students must meet at least every two weeks with their advisors to discuss readings, research questions, and writing progress.
- December 15: The student must submit a draft of 15 pages of her/his project. He or she must meet with the advisor to discuss his/her overall progress. At this stage, the advisor must determine whether the student ought to continue with the project—or should convert this into a one-semester independent study course.
- No later than February 28, the student in conversation with the advisor may decide to convert her/his honors project into a year-long research project. If both agree, then there will be no defense, and the final paper (still 40-page minimum) will be due to the advisor by the third Monday in April. Grading will be the responsibility of the advisor.
The final paper is due the Monday after the first Friday in April. For 2015, the deadline is Monday, April 6; for 2016, Monday, April 4. The student must submit to the department a copy of the thesis in both .docx and .pdf formats.
The thesis defense should take place on a Wednesday or Friday morning prior to the April 15 deadline for all “Honors” grades to appear in the graduation booklet.
The Honors defense should last no longer than 30 minutes. Students will give a brief 5-minute presentation of their work, followed by 15-20 minutes of Q&A from the faculty. The faculty will deliberate on the appropriate grade, and inform the student of his/her grade. The student will also receive feedback, minor edits, to incorporate prior to the final submission deadline. [Honors defenses will be scheduled in 45-minute slots to ensure having enough time for the presentation, as well as the deliberation of grades and debriefing of students.]