Q: Why should I consider honors study?

A: There are many reasons to write an honors thesis in English:


  • You get to design your own year-long project studying something you care about 
  • It counts as two courses towards your major and your degree
  • Instead of attending a class, you will be the master of your own time
  • It satisfies the senior seminar requirement for majors
  • You will graduate with Honors on your transcript and your CV for the rest of your life

The main reason is the first: the freedom and independence to study what you want. You will get to study at a deeper level than is possible in a classroom whatever interests you most in literature. Over the course of a year, you will write a thesis of at least fifty pages. That may sound like a lot, but it’s only double the requirement for our senior seminars.

Note: This FAQ describes critical honors theses. Students interested in creative writing honors theses should begin by speaking to Professor Blanche Boyd and Charles Hartman directly.


Q: What do I need to undertake honors study?

A: Step 1: You must be an English major with a GPA of 3.5 in major courses above the 100 level.

Step 2: Choose a thesis adviser and write a proposal  
Choose a thesis adviser whose expertise matches your research area. Your thesis adviser need not be your major adviser. Your adviser will guide you through the process of writing a proposal. Proposals are due by approximately April 20. You should have your thesis adviser’s approval before submitting your proposal to the director of honors. (The department may ask you to revise your proposal, in which case you will have extra time to do so during summer break.)

Step 3: Agree to a schedule of work with your adviser
After your proposal has been approved, you will agree on a schedule of work that leads to the completion of your thesis. The department requires that at least one chapter be finished by the end of the fall semester. You and your adviser will also designate two other faculty members to be readers of your finished thesis.

More details

  • The honors sequence consists of English 497 and 498 
  • If you begin the honors track and cannot finish it for whatever reason, your honors semesters will be bumped down to English 491/492: Individual Study.
  • The only possible grades for your thesis are A and A-. Anything less will be bumped down to Individual Study.
  • Your completed thesis will be due to your adviser in early April. The registrar’s deadline is usually April 30. You must leave most of April aside for resolving problems and complications.