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Honors in English

The English Honors Program exists to provide English majors of exceptional ability with an opportunity to further distinguish themselves and to develop the sort of advanced critical, research, and writing skills that can only be cultivated through a sustained research and writing effort of several months’ duration.

The Honors Program can represent the culmination of a student’s college education, or it can prepare students for future graduate study. Students who do intend to pursue graduate studies in English or literature are especially encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity.

Course Sequence

Students accomplish Honors in English through a two course sequence:

  • Reading for Senior Thesis: Honors (ENGL 497H), a directed research class, in which students meet weekly, one-on-one, with their Thesis Director to develop the research skills and background knowledge necessary to undertake the writing of the senior thesis.
  • Senior Thesis: Honors (ENGL 499H), a directed research class, in which students, under the guidance of their Thesis Director, write a sustained piece of writing of 25-50 pages. Students meet weekly with the Director to explore new avenues of thought, push their ideas to new levels of sophistication, and clarify and polish the language of their developing thesis.
  • The final thesis is read and graded by a three-member Honors Committee, consisting of the Thesis Director and two faculty Readers, and will be presented in a public forum.

ENGL 497H and ENGL 499H are to be taken in addition to, not in lieu of, major requirements. If in ENGL 497H or ENGL 499H the student’s performance fails to live up to the standards of the honors program (i.e., slips below a B+), the student may complete ENGL 497 and ENGL 499 without honors credit.

Applying for Honors

To apply for Honors, students must meet the following criteria:

  • at least 15 credits in English at the 200 level or above;
  • a USCB GPA of at least 3.5 or higher;
  • a GPA in the major of at least 3.7 or higher.
To graduate with Honors, students must continue to meet these GPA standards until graduation.

Required Application Materials:

  1. An Application and Statement of Intent (available here as a MS Word .docx), signed by a faculty sponsor (the Thesis Director) from the Department of English and Theatre.
  2. A 2-3 page prospectus and a substantial bibliography. The prospectus should outline the aims of the thesis, clearly indicating the proposed area of study, the problems to be addressed, and the methodology to be employed. The bibliography should be designed under the direction of the faculty sponsor and should include a substantial amount of primary, critical, and theoretical literature. These documents should be professionally produced in a consistent style (such as MLA).

All Application Materials are due by the last week of class in the semester before students intend to begin the two course sequence.  Early in that preceding semester, students should ask a faculty member to direct the thesis. Throughout that semester, students should consult with that faculty member to work towards a successful Honors application. The student should also ask two other faculty members, at least one of whom must be from the Department of English and Theatre, to serve on their Honors Committee as Readers.

If and when the prospectus and bibliography have been approved, the student will enroll in a two-course sequence of independent studies, ENGL 497H (Reading for Senior Thesis: Honors), followed in the next semester by ENGL 499H (Senior Thesis: Honors).  By the end of ENGL 499H the student will submit for approval by the Honors Committee a senior thesis of 25-50 pages. When the Committee has approved the senior thesis, the student will present part of the project in a public setting.


The Semester BEFORE you intend to begin the sequence
  • First month of the semester—Ask a faculty member to be your Thesis Director and discuss your ideas with him or her.
  • Second month of the semester—Begin preparing Application and Statement of Intent, Prospectus, and Bibliography. Assemble Honors Committee.
  • Last week of class—Submit to the Chair of English and Theatre your Application and Statement of Intent, Prospectus, and Bibliography to be evaluated by Honors Committee. If accepted into Honors, register for Reading for Senior Thesis: Honors (ENGL 497H)
The Reading Semester
  • Take Reading for Senior Thesis: Honors (ENGL 497H)
  • Meet weekly with your Thesis Director and fulfill requirements for your course.
  • Register for Senior Thesis: Honors (ENGL 499H)
The Writing Semester
  • Take Senior Thesis: Honors (ENGL 499H)
  • Meet weekly with your Thesis Director
  • Write Thesis of 25-50 pages
  • Three weeks before the last day of class—Submit Thesis to Honors Committee
  • Before the end of the semester—If Thesis is accepted by the Honors Committee, schedule public presentation of part of the thesis.