BA Honors in English

The Honors Program in English is a selective, three-course sequence that prepares dedicated English majors for advanced, independent work while promoting intellectual exchange in a small community of scholarly and creative writers.  Honors work provides intellectual room for attentive inquiries into the many ways that people have understood and represented their experiences and thinking about the world through visual and other arts, theory, rhetoric, literature, philosophy, religion, and history. With faculty and peer guidance, honors students learn advanced research methodologies and focus on issues of interest to them. Developing projects that contribute to our critical understanding of the way the personal becomes, and derives from the political, honors students prepare themselves, and readers of their work, to contribute to the unfolding of a global community tolerant of ambiguity and at home with difference.  

Successful completion of the program earns an Honors Certificate in English and nomination for graduation with "Honors in English" from the University, distinctions that enhance any résumé.  In addition:

The English department’s Honors Program provides excellent preparation for graduate school, and not only for those applying to English Studies graduate programs.  The sophisticated questions and independent scholarship honors students typically produce are attractive to admissions officers in any number of disciplines, including: law, journalism, art history, and library sciences.

Graduating with honors makes you more attractive to all kinds of employers in a highly competitive market.  Your honors thesis stands as evidence of your superior writing, thinking, and research skills.  Non-academic fields that require larger projects of sustained research and critical writing to support evidence-based argument include:

  • business, marketing and consumer reports/proposals
  • assessment (such as reports an EPA regional research team writes and equally lengthy reports by the company they are investigating)
  • legal briefs
  • non-profit advocacy, grant applications, annual reports to a board of directors
  • government research (reports on effects/possible effects of past and proposed legislation; legislative history; discussions of the results of comment periods)

            Smart employers, like those quoted in recent articles in Forbes and The New Republic, recognize that our advanced technological society produces not only increasingly sophisticated products and services but also complex  cultural meanings, ideas, values and preferences. Thoughtful living in the  new global culture requires not just new technical skills but also subtle and  nuanced ways of thinking and understanding cultural and social meanings.

An  An honors thesis gives you room to pursue independently your own intellectual passions and questions in an atmosphere of peer and faculty support.  For those who wish to follow a specific project with intellectual thoroughness, and perhaps explore some of its larger implications in a hybrid, complex and contradictory world that raises ethical, social, and political questions exceeding conventional answers, the Honors Program offers a satisfying “capstone” experience to Undergraduate studies.

Your honors thesis can be as “traditional” or “nontraditional” as you devise.  In recent years, students have pursued projects as diverse as a materialist study of the coca leaf; an analysis of’s extension of the literary coterie’s public sphere; an exploration of the early modern political function of the poetic epyllion; and the comparison of non-human protagonists in a novel and anime to explore the naturalization of the human in times of technological revolution.

The Basics

The program is a three course sequenceAENG 399Z, 498Z and 499Zthat supports your growth as a thesis writer.  The thesis itself is 40-50 pages broken down into small steps, and supported by coursework and faculty advisors who will introduce you to the tools and strategies needed to successfully complete this work. For details about course content, click the link “View the Honors Handbook” and scroll to the “Sequence and Description” section.


Admission to the program is through a competitive selection process. English majors with a GPA in the major of 3.5 and an overall GPA of 3.25 may apply for entrance to the program, typically in the spring of sophomore year.

Applicants should have completed 12 credits in English, including English 205Z, 210, 305Z and an upper level creative writing workshop like English 302 or 402 for those who plan to do a creative project. English 310 is also strongly recommended. The honors committee may waive entry requirements where appropriate.

Transfer students may apply upon acceptance to the University.

™™ Click here to submit the Honors ApplicationOnline ™

Applications for Spring 2015 are being accepted until April 13th.


Honors Degree Breakdown

To remain in the Honors Program students are required to maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.50 in English courses and a minimum 3.25 overall. A student who leaves the honors program is responsible for completing the regular English major requirements.

Degree Requirements for Honors in English (37 credits)
Ÿ  12  credits of major core courses: English 205, 210, 305 and 310.
Ÿ  10  credits from required courses: English 399 (4), 498 (3), 499 (3)
Ÿ    9  credits from 200-400 level electives
Ÿ    6  credits from 300-400 level