College Of Humanities and Fine Arts

Honors in English

Honors in English recognizes excellence in the major and offers an opportunity for high-achieving and motivated students to conduct independent research or produce creative work under the guidance of a faculty member. Honors students will work with a faculty member (Thesis Director) whose area of expertise is relevant to the thesis topic and produce a substantial paper or collection of work. Projects in all department areas (literary studies, rhetoric, literacy, English education, linguistics, professional and creative writing, etc.) are welcome.

To be admitted to Honors in English:

  • You must have completed 3 units of 400-level coursework in English and 12 units in the major core.
  • Your cumulative GPA should be at least 3.5 or within the top 5% of English majors. 
  • Your GPA in your major should be at least 3.5 or within the top 5% of English majors. 

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 Coursework

English 599H, Honors Senior Thesis, is a 6-unit independent study course. Honors students take two semesters of English 599H (3 units each semester) during the final two semesters of study.

The Honors thesis typically involves (1) research on scholarly topic, (2) a curriculum development project, or (3) creative writing (fiction, creative non-fiction, or poetry). Proposed projects that do not fit into these three categories should be discussed with the Honors Advisor for consideration. Page length for scholarly and curricular work may vary and will be determined in consultation with the student, Thesis Director, and Honors Advisor. For creative writing, students will write either 30 pages of fiction or creative non-fiction with a ten-page critical introduction, or 20 pages of poetry and a ten-page critical introduction. Students will work closely and regularly with the Thesis Director and meet each semester with the Honors Advisor to ensure appropriate progress.

During the second semester, students will present the results of their research or creative work to an audience of faculty and students, either at the English Graduate Student Council Symposium or at another approved event. A close-to-final draft of the thesis should be ready at that time. It will be read by the Thesis Director, Honors Advisor, and the Department Chair.

Students must receive a B or higher in 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 in the second semester of English 599H and maintain a B average in all major courses to receive Honors in the Major credit. 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. Meet with the Honors Advisor, Dr. Laura Sparks, to discuss your progress towards degree and ideas for an Honors thesis.
  2. Meet with potential Thesis Director. This should be a faculty member in English who specializes in your area of interest, and who has expressed a willingness to work with you on your project. Be prepared to give a sense of the general direction your research or writing will take. The Thesis Director will then write a letter of support for English Honors study, addressed to the Honors Advisor.
  3. Finalize a topic and write a one-page proposal describing your intended project. Submit this proposal to the Honors Advisor.
  4. Once the Thesis Director, Honors Advisor, and Department Chair have approved your proposed project, fill-out, sign, and submit the English 599H Independent Study form to enroll in your first 3 units of the English Honors program. (ENGL 599H Independent Study Form (PDF))