What is the History Honors Program?
The History Honors Program is the most advanced study offered by the History Department and the only route to graduating with Honors in History. It is a three-term sequence for History majors in their senior year, commencing in the fall term with HIST 98: Honors Seminar, a seminar in historical methods and historiography, and continuing with HIST 99: Honors Thesis in winter and spring terms. Throughout the three terms, Honors students work under the supervision of an advisor on a substantial piece of original research and writing. In addition, students must maintain an Honors level College grade point average and History average. Awards of Honors and High Honors in History are made by vote of the History Department faculty as a whole.
Can I—should I—write an Honors Thesis?
Students eligible to apply to the History Honors Program are History majors who, by the spring term of their junior year, have achieved an overall College grade point average of 3.0 and one of 3.5 in History, based upon a minimum of five graded History courses. If you meet these eligibility criteria, you should consider applying to the Honors Program. Keep in mind that a successful thesis requires a substantial commitment of time, energy, intelligence, and especially self-motivation. While in most courses, a syllabus tells you what you are to accomplish, week by week, to research and write a thesis you must set your own goals and work schedule. Your advisor will help you and monitor your progress, but the responsibility falls very much upon you.
This responsibility brings anxieties, but also enormous pleasure and a justified sense of accomplishment. An Honors thesis allows you to "do" history, to conduct original research into a subject that fascinates you, to interpret and analyze your findings, and to make them your own by formulating them as a coherent narrative or argument. Such an experience is essential if you are considering graduate work, especially graduate work in history.