History Honors Program

For this program students write an honors theses during their senior year which may result in departmental honors.

Application Process

By March 1 of his/her junior year, the student determines a research topic and completes the Honors Program Application Form. Once the application and topic are approved by the history department, the student will enroll in HIST 498 (honors tutorial) for the fall semester of the senior year and in HIST 499 (honors thesis) during the spring semester. The final grade on the honors thesis will determine the grade for both classes. When the thesis is accepted with a grade of A or A-, the student is awarded departmental honors. If the thesis is given a lower grade, the student will receive credit for eight hours of independent study but will not be given honors. Course designations are as follows:

History 498 – Honors Tutorial (4 hours) – Supervised independent reading and research on an approved topic in preparation for writing the Honors Thesis. Prerequisite: admission to department Honors Program, senior standing.*

History 499 – Honors Thesis (4 hours) – The supervised preparation of an Honors Thesis with an oral examination. Does not count toward the minimum hours of the major. Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of History 498 and approved proposal, senior standing.

*With permission of the department chair, students may enroll in HIST 498 during spring semester, junior year.

Over the last several years, students have pursued honors projects on a range of subjects. Titles of some of the recent theses include:

  •  "Life Springs from Death": Patrick Pearse and Patriotic Martyrdom
  • Taming East Africa's Herrenvolk: Societal Changes in the Wahehe 1850-1917
  • A Tale of Power: The Birth and Entrenchment of Iran's Elite Ruling Establishment
  • Prince Albert and the Victorian Court as a Moral Example
  • "To be a Missionary is the Grandest Thing in the World": The Student Volunteer Movement and the Making of a Missionary
  • Geneses of Exile: Theological and Social Motivations Behind "Peregrinatio Pro Christo"

The length of honors theses varies considerably, but theses are typically 30-50 pages (with full notes and bibliography).

Suggested Timetable for the Honors Project

Since successful completion of the honors project depends heavily on the student’s own initiative and discipline, it is important to plan carefully. The following steps represent a suggested timetable for enrolling in an honors project and the requirements for carrying it through to conclusion:

Junior Year (three semesters prior to anticipated graduation)

  • By February 10 of junior year: Consult with faculty members who might supervise the project and with the department chair about possible topics. At this stage it is not necessary to have a specific thesis in mind, but interest in a general question or area of study is important.
  • By March 1: Complete the application for the honors program .doc /.pdf and obtain the department approvals and signatures that are required. This application will designate the faculty member who will advise you on the project.
  • Pre-registration for fall semester of the senior year: Register for HIST 498 and plan to include HIST 499 during the spring semester.
  • Before leaving campus at the end of the spring semester: Consult with faculty adviser concerning steps to take immediately upon return to campus in the fall (concerning bibliography, initial reading, meeting times, etc.).

Senior year, fall semester (HIST 498)

  • First week of fall semester: Establish a schedule with the faculty adviser for reporting on reading and other study throughout the first semester. The student should take the initiative to report progress to his/her faculty adviser weekly via e-mail and should schedule regular appointments. The objectives for Hist 498 include the formulation of a clear, precise thesis; the creation of an annotated bibliography; and an outline of the thesis. If possible, the student also should write a draft of the introduction. Because spring semester deadlines are tight, students should strive to make as much progress as possible on the thesis during the fall semester.
  • By quad break of fall semester: Submit topic; and initial bibliography with some annotation indicating research progress.
  • End of fall semester: Submit annotated bibliography; thesis outline; and draft introduction.

Senior year, spring semester (HIST 499)

  • Start of spring semester: Establish a schedule with faculty adviser for writing a first draft, correcting, and re-writing the thesis. Suggest two faculty members (one outside the department) who, with your adviser, will comprise the committee that will read your thesis and conduct the final oral exam. With your adviser's approval, invite the other faculty to be on the committee.
  • By spring break: Submit a draft of the thesis to your adviser. You may wish to submit portions of the thesis to the adviser prior to this date.
  • By April 1: Submit revised thesis to adviser. Schedule date for thesis defense (no later than the final week of classes).
  • By April 15: Distribute thesis to your committee and the department chair (ex officio committee member).
  • Final week of classes: Meet with your committee for the oral examination on the thesis. This meeting should be scheduled for 45-60 minutes. The examining committee as a whole assigns the grade. After the exam, make any suggested revisions and submit a clean copy of your honors thesis for the history department to submit to the library.

A student who receives and “A” or “A-” on his/her thesis will, upon graduation, receive a special certificate indicating the honors designation. This accomplishment is also acknowledged on his/her transcript and in the commencement program.