Honors in English

Interested in earning departmental honors? - Plan ahead!

Students who hope to earn honors in English should obtain the cooperation of a faculty sponsor before their senior year, possibly by the end of spring semester of their junior year; the sponsor can help the student make choices about options available to those seeking honors. In some cases, the student and sponsor decide to conduct a preliminary independent study to help the student determine the feasibility of a topic. In others, a student's existing course project may also be strong enough to serve as a basis for more advanced research or creative work.

When making plans for independent work, students should strongly consider undergraduate research programs and resources available through the Humanities Center, the College, and the University

Only students majoring in programs in English may earn departmental honors in English. Students minoring in a program in English are not eligible for departmental honors. 

Students pursuing departmental honors

  • hold a 3.5 grade point average in all English courses,
  • perform on an advanced level in their major,
  • enroll in either an ENG 480, Independent Study for Honors, or a 600-level graduate course during the semester they complete their honors project (senior year only),
  • complete an approved honors thesis or other approved project.

Departmental honors thesis guidelines 

An honors thesis must, at a minimum, be the following:

  • the product of substantial independent investigation;
  • an original and respectable contribution to the appropriate discipline (i.e. neither a summary nor a compilation of others’ ideas);
  • longer and more complex than a typical undergraduate term project;
  • well organized and stylistically polished.

Given the variety of majors in the English department, not all investigations will result in a traditional thesis. Some students may deliver the results of their investigations on websites or other electronic media. Such products must be agreed upon in advance by the sponsor and student and must be approved in advance by the Assistant Chair for Undergraduate Studies.

Approval process and timeline

To be awarded departmental honors, the thesis must be approved by the student’s faculty sponsor and by two other faculty members (readers) who, with the sponsor, will form a committee to determine whether the work is of honors quality. 

It is recommended that student and sponsor confer on a feasible timeline towards completion of the project and that they secure the help of faculty readers early in the process, ideally before or right after the start of the semester in which the student plans to complete the honors thesis and is enrolled in ENG 480.

Faculty sponsor and readers should be prepared to make their final decision on the project by the end of the semester in which the student is enrolled in ENG 480. 

After approval, the student must provide a digital copy of the finished thesis to each committee member and the Assistant Chair for Undergraduate Studies for the departmental files.