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English Departmental Honors

Guidelines for English Department Honors

Purpose and Goals

The Departmental Honors Program enables English majors with an exceptional record of academic achievement to design and conduct an advanced research/writing project under the direction of a full-time faculty member of their choice. Participation in this program allows students to engage in the intensive study of language and literature, enhance their writing skills, and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the discipline of English. The intellectual rigor of the Departmental Honors Program makes it especially valuable for those majors planning to do graduate work in English or apply to law or other professional schools.

Acceptable Projects

Completion of an honors project is necessary for achieving Departmental Honors. Acceptable projects might include:

  • A research paper of at least 40 pages, exclusive of notes and bibliography, on a literary topic. You may choose to focus on a particular period, writer, text, genre, or theme.
  • A selection of original poems, essays, or short stories, or a short novel, prefaced by at least 15 pages of research on the literary tradition that your own creative writing emerges from.
  • A creative or analytical project different from those outlined above that has been approved by your adviser and the Departmental Honors Coordinator.

Funding for Projects

Limited departmental funds are available for students engaged in Departmental Honors projects. Legitimate requests for funds might involve expenses incurred through necessary travel to special collections libraries or fees incurred through borrowing necessary materials unavailable in Alden Library. Requests for funding will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Departmental Honors Coordinator and the Department Chair. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for funding through the Provost's Undergraduate Research Fund.

Application and Eligibility

Admission to the Departmental Honors Program involves completion of an application (available from the Departmental Honors Coordinator), as well as an interview with the Departmental Honors Coordinator. The application and interview must be completed no later than the end of the Spring semester of the student's junior year, or at such time as to allow the student a minimum of two semesters, not including summers, to complete the program. Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Students must have both an overall and major grade point average of 3.5 or higher, and must submit the names of at least two English faculty for recommendations.
  • In order to complete the application form, students must identify a full-time faculty member who will consent to serve as an adviser for the project. This adviser's area of expertise should be relevant to the topic of the proposed project. The adviser must review and sign the application form before it is submitted to the Departmental Honors Coordinator.
  • In their senior year, students must enroll in English 499H for Fall and Spring.

Criteria for the Awarding of Departmental Honors

Departmental Honors will be awarded if students accepted for admission into the program meet the following criteria:

  • Continue to maintain a 3.5 grade point average overall and in the major.
  • Complete the schedule of research/drafting/writing/revision agreed upon by the student and the faculty adviser. Faculty advisers will submit evaluations of the student's progress at the end of each academic semester; students will not be permitted to continue in the Departmental Honors Program if the evaluations of 499H do not indicate satisfactory progress or performance on the project.
  • Complete a Departmental Honors project that demonstrates an outstanding level of proficiency in research and analytical/creative writing. Evaluation of the project will be performed by the faculty adviser and the Departmental Honors Coordinator; their judgment on the matter of quality is not subject to appeal.
  • Complete the Thesis or Project Submission Form with signatures from the faculty adviser and Departmental Honors Coordinator; this form must be sent to the College of Arts & Science Office of Undergraduate Advising & Student Affairs along with the thesis or project itself.
  • The project must be completed and submitted to the faculty adviser and Departmental Honors Coordinator one week before the deadline for submission to the College of Arts & Science Office of Undergraduate Advising & Student Affairs. Students wishing to have their name published in the commencement program as Departmental Honors graduates must deliver the signed thesis or project submission forms, along with the actual thesis or project, to the College of Arts & Science Office of Undergraduate Advising & Student Affairs by the deadline.

Incomplete Projects

Students who withdraw from the program will be given credit for the sections of 499H that they have successfully completed; however, students failing to complete their thesis work satisfactorily and according to schedule will be removed from the program, and will be made ineligible for Departmental Honors.

Contact Information

All questions about Departmental Honors should be addressed to the Departmental Honors Coordinator: Dr. Mary Kate Hurley.