History Honors Program
The Honors Program in History provides outstanding majors with an opportunity to pursue independent research on a larger scale. Honors can be immensely rewarding and enjoyable because of the excitement of original research and the chance to work closely with a professor on an individual basis.
The History Honors Program requires the completion of an honors thesis during the senior year. (Recent theses have been between 60 and 100 pages. You and your thesis adviser will discuss the appropriate length in light of your topic.)
Students interested in honors should discuss the matter with their adviser during the fall semester of their junior year to ensure they have the requisite skills, initiative, and experience to complete the program. Students who apply are required to have successfully completed a history research seminar in preparation for the Honors Program. In addition, their GPA must be at least 3.50 at the moment of application.
If you decide to try for honors in history, you must complete the following steps during your last three semesters as an undergraduate at Clark.
Follow These Steps for Honors Work
This faculty member may well be the adviser that you already have, but students’ interests change, and so may their advisers. Choose your thesis adviser carefully, because you will be working closely with them for at least two semesters.
You will want to choose a topic that excites you intellectually. Honors students frequently have written a seminar paper during their junior year and expand that project into an honors thesis. Other students become intrigued by a topic through their general course work and write their honors thesis on that topic without prior research. Your adviser will provide some guidance regarding what kinds of topics are appropriate and what sorts of documents and other historical sources are available. They will help you develop a research plan.
Submit an honors proposal to the History Department’s Honors Committee no later than April 15 of your junior year. Working with your thesis adviser, you should draft a brief (two-to-three page) proposal outlining the nature of your project and the sources that you plan to consult.
The departmental Honors Committee will review your proposal and decide whether to admit you to the Honors Program. In some cases, the Committee may require revisions before granting approval for you to move forward with honors.
Register for History 297 (Honors) and History 299 (Directed Readings) during your senior year (a total of three credits). Students should devote two units of course work, one in the fall and one in the spring, to researching and writing the honors thesis (History 297). In order to gain command of the secondary literature surrounding your topic, a unit of directed readings (History 299) in the fall semester should be devoted to readings with an appropriate member of the department, usually your thesis adviser.
You will receive a letter grade for this directed readings course. You will receive a preliminary grade of P (pass) for the fall semester of History 297. Following the completion of the History 297 in April/May and the evaluation of your honors thesis, you will receive a letter grade that will be applied both to the spring and, retroactively, to the fall semester.
Honors students are also required to register for History 290, the Department’s Honors Forum. This .25-credit course supports honors students as they go through the process of writing their honors theses. Students enroll in both fall and spring semesters and are graded pass/fail.
Please note: Each student must consult with their thesis adviser at the end of the fall semester to confirm that they have permission to continue in the Honors Program.
Finally, by the spring semester of your senior year, you and your thesis adviser will need to select a second reader, who will read your honors thesis and participate in your oral defense.
The defense is an opportunity to discuss your thesis and its implications. The oral defenses take place in mid- to late April. Scheduling the oral defense is the responsibility of the honors student. The quality of your thesis and your oral defense will determine what level — honors, high honors, or highest honors — you receive. In the event that your thesis does not reach honors caliber, all of your honors coursework (three-and-a-half credits) will count toward your history capstone and graduation.
Phi Alpha Theta Honor Society
History majors are eligible for election to Phi Alpha Theta, the National Honor Society in history. The History Department hosts an induction ceremony at the end of each spring semester.
The student members of Phi Alpha Theta are encouraged to meet during the school year and plan events in consultation with the department. Past events have included film screenings and trips to historic sites.
Learn more about Phi Alpha Theta