The Department of English

Honors in English

A collage with pictures of presentations, graduation ceremonies, and diplomas

English majors who have performed very well in the courses required for the major and are motivated may pursue an individual research project with a faculty member whose area of expertise matches the topic the student wishes to study. Projects in all English-related disciplines (e.g., literary studies, language and literacy, linguistics, and creative writing) are welcome.

To be eligible for Honors in English, a student's cumulative GPA and their GPA in the English major should be at least 3.5 or within the top 5% of majors in the Department. Additionally, students must have completed the following courses with grades that place them in the top 5% of English Majors:

6 units:

ENGL 340 Approaches to Literary Genres (3.0)

ENGL 335 Rhetoric Writing (3.0)

3 units selected from:

ENGL 276 Survey of Early British Literature (3.0)

ENGL 277 Survey of Later British Literature (3.0)

ENGL 278 Survey of Early American Literature (3.0)

ENGL 279 Survey of Later American Literature (3.0)

3 units selected from:

400-level English course

NOTE: Students interested in writing a creative thesis (fiction, poetry, drama, or creative non-fiction) must demonstrate significant progress toward the Minor in Creative Writing. 

Honors Course Work

English 599H, Honors Senior Thesis, is a six-unit independent study. Ordinarily, the student takes two semesters of English 599H (3.0 units each semester). It is normally undertaken in your final two semesters of study.

The Honors project involves either (1) research on a critical or scholarly topic, or (2) creative writing (fiction, creative non-fiction, drama, or poetry). In both cases, you will prepare a substantial paper or collection of work. For a research paper, you will write a scholarly essay of 40 pages or more. For creative writing, you will write either 30 pages of fiction, creative non-fiction, or drama with a ten page critical introduction, or 20 pages of poetry and a ten page critical introduction. You will work closely and regularly with your Thesis Director and meet with the Honors Adviser to assure appropriate progress.

No later than three weeks before the end of your second semester, you will present the results of your research or creative work to an audience of faculty and students. A close-to-final draft of your work should be ready at that time. It will be read by the Honors Adviser and the Department Chair and a grade will be give to the Thesis Director for tabulation with his or her final grade.

Students must receive a B or higher of the first semester of English 599H in order to proceed to the second and final semester of the project. Students must receive a B or higher on the second semester of English 599H and maintain a B average in all major courses to receive Honors in the Major credit. These units are in addition to those required for the English Major. 

Successful completion of all Honors in the Major requirements will be noted on the student's permanent academic record, and the student will receive a certificate of completion from the Department.

Application Procedures

  1. Ask a faculty member familiar with your academic performance in the major to write a letter of recommendation, addressed to Dr. Laura Sparks, the Honors Adviser.
  2. Select a topic and write a one-page abstract describing your intended project. Submit this abstract to Dr. Laura Sparks.
  3. Select a Thesis Director. This should be a faculty member who specializes in your area of interest, and who has expressed a willingness to work with you on your project. 

You will be interviewed by the Honors Adviser, the Thesis Director, and the Department Chair. Be prepared to give a sense of the general direction your research or writing will take.

Honors Advisor

Laura Sparks

Laura Sparks
Phone: 530-898-3736
Location: ARTS 272

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