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Honors in the Program


The American Studies Program is unique in that it admits only a small number of students through a competitive selection procedure, and requires all of its seniors to produce a senior research project. This means that an unusually high proportion of American Studies majors are eligible for graduation with honors. Honors is not automatically awarded for mere completion of the requirements for the major, however, but only for distinguished work.

The American Studies Honors Program is administered by the Committee on Undergraduate Honors and Awards. The Committee is comprised of the Program Director and two members chosen from the general American Studies Program's Faculty Committee.

Minimum Requirement for Honors

Because all majors take the Senior Project Seminar and produce a senior project there is no separate procedure for admitting American Studies majors into the Honors Program. Nevertheless, successful completion of a distinguished senior project is a requirement for graduation with Honors.

Honors will be awarded only to those students who have successfully completed the requirements for the American Studies major.

Honors will be awarded only to those students who have maintained an overall GPA of 3.3 or higher and a GPA of 3.5 or higher in their American Studies courses. (In exceptional cases a truly outstanding thesis may merit a recommendation for Honors even if a student has not met the minimum GPA requirements.)

These are the minimum standards that must be met in order to be considered for Honors.

The Senior Project

Students are required to enroll in the two-quarter Senior Project Seminar (390-1,2) at the end of which they are required to submit a senior project. Most projects take the form of a thesis. To be awarded Honors, a senior project must be an original contribution based on substantial research in primary and secondary sources. Research can include field studies, oral interviews, literary analysis, or archival work. The project must be well organized, clearly written, present a serious and sophisticated interpretation of the research, be informed by relevant scholarship or other related work, and present an argument.

The prescribed length of the senior thesis is 30-50 pages, but this is a flexible range, especially at the upper end.

Evaluation of the Senior Project

Every project is evaluated by two independent readers:  the 390 instructor and an outide faculty advisor.  The faculty memebr who teaches the 390 research seminar will be the first reader, while the outside advisor will serve as the second reader.  Both readers provide written evaluations of the final project.  Together, the two readers determine the final grade, which is officially assigned by the 390 instructor.  If the cumulative grade for the two quarters is A- or better, the two readers may then decide to nominate a student for Honors.  If the circustances seem to them to justify it, they may recomment that a student with a grade slightly below A- be nominated.

The Award of Departmental Honors

Once a student is nominated for Honors by the two independent readers, the project and written comments are then submitted, along with the student's overall record, to the Program's Committee on Undergraduate Honors and Awards.

The members of the American Studies Program’s Committee on Undergraduate Honors and Awards will be comprised of the Program Director (unless he/she is the instructor of the 390 seminar) and two members chosen from the general American Studies Program’s Faculty Committee for a total of three Committee members.

Each member of the American Studies Program’s Committee on Undergraduate Honors and Awards will read the written evaluations submitted by the independent readers and evaluate the student’s overall record. Each member will then submit his/her recommendation as to the eligibility of the student for Honors. A majority of the Committee must recommend the student for Honors. The decision of the committee is final; there is no appeal.

The Committee submits its recommendations for honors to the WCAS Committee on Superior Students and Honors. The 390 instructor prepares these recommendations.  The final decision on the awarding of honors is made by the Committee on Honors of WCAS.