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History Honors Program

The History Department's honors program provides our most accomplished majors the opportunity to do the work of professional scholars.

Our honors students work closely with leading historians in their chosen field to conduct primary source research and write original scholarship that contributes to the understanding of the past. The program is fully in accordance with the guidelines, procedures, and responsibilities of the College honors program.

The History Department offers undergraduate research funding opportunities to rising seniors to assist them with research-related travel and expenses, including through the Cuttino Scholarship, the Cuttino Fellowship, the Jack Award, the Roark Prize, and the Wiley Prize.


  • History majors and joint majors in their junior year with a 3.50 cumulative GPA and a 3.50 major average will be invited to apply. They will be expected to complete a short application for admission into the History honors program. Exceptions to the 3.50 GPA requirement require a formal petition, in conjunction with the Department Honors Coordinator, to the College Honors Committee.
  • For the College, the honors program is a senior-year (two semester) program. Therefore, students are officially admitted to the honors program in the fall of their senior year (with the exception of second-semester juniors who expect to graduate the following fall). The Department, however, expects most of its honors students to begin their honors studies in the spring of their junior year by taking HIST 495A. Requests for late admission require a petition to the Department Honors Coordinator explaining the special circumstances for the late admission (study abroad, late declaration of major, etc.). The History Department is flexible on sequencing but see best results from beginning the program as a junior.

Program Requirements

A minimum of 12 history courses in total

  • Including at least 8 courses at or above the 300 level and at least 2 courses outside the student's major concentration field.
  • No history courses may be taken S/U to be credited to the honors requirements.

Three required honors-program courses

HIST 495A, a 500-level graduate seminar, and HIST 495BW (these are included in the 12 courses required for the major).

  • History 495A, "Introduction to Historical Interpretation," is a required course of the History honors program. Although offered in both Fall and Spring semesters, History 495A is normally taken in the Spring semester of the junior year and must be taken by the end of the Fall semester of the senior year. The course addresses historiography and methodology and offers practical guidance in thesis design and research.
  • A 500-level Graduate Seminar is normally taken in the Spring semester of the junior year or the Fall semester of the senior year. Students who wish to take their graduate seminar in another semester due to its greater suitability to their thesis topic may petition the Department Honors Coordinator for an exception. If no appropriate graduate seminar is being offered at any time in the year, candidates may petition to substitute an undergraduate colloquium to be taken as History 596R "Special Studies." Honors students may use graduate seminar courses (500-level) to fulfill the history major colloquia requirement; however, graduate seminars do not meet the College continuing writing requirement.
  • History 495BW is the thesis-writing section of History 495A. This course is taken in the student's last undergraduate semester (normally the spring semester of senior year) and is organized around the writing of the honors thesis.

Project Proposal

  • Students will submit an honors project proposal (normally completed in the honors seminar, HIST 495A) to the Department and their thesis advisor on or before the last Monday in April of the junior year or the last Monday in December of the senior year, for students taking HIST 495A in the fall.

Honors Thesis

  • An honors thesis, usually between 40 and 60 pages, based on original research (as per the College honors program specifications) must be completed in conjunction with the College honors program deadlines.

Note on Joint Major Requirements

Please note that joint majors (History/Art History, Classics/History, English/History, Religion/History) must choose to follow the honors program requirements of one of the joint majors and adhere to the joint-major honors examination procedures (below).

Thesis Examination Committees

For History Majors

  • The thesis examining committee will be composed of three faculty members. The advisor must be a History core or associated faculty member. It is good practice to include one member from outside the History Department. You may have additional committee members, including faculty from other universities, beyond the required three core members. Only core members vote on level of honors. The examination will be oral and will cover the thesis.

For Joint Majors

  • The thesis examining committee will be composed of three faculty members: one must come from the History Department and one from the joint-major department. The third generally comes from outside both of the joint- major departments. The examination will be oral and will cover the thesis.