Honors program

Outstanding undergraduate Philosophy majors may be eligible for participation in our honors program in their senior year. Interested students should apply to the departmental honors committee, following the procedures below.

To be admitted to the honors program, you must have a minimum GPA (3.500 for students who joined the major after 2017-18; 3.300 GPA if you joined before 2017). This is a minimum necessary condition for admission to the program, not a sufficient condition.

You must also meet other requirements stated in the College Bulletin. We encourage majors in Philosophy to apply for the departmental honors program if they feel they have adequate background for relatively independent work.

The honors program is a two-semester sequence, comprising PHIL-P498 Honors Thesis Directed Research and PHIL-P499 Honors Thesis. The goal of P498 is to enable you to develop familiarity with an area of the discipline and skills in independent philosophical research. The goal of P499 is development of an original, substantial honors thesis. The thesis must be defended in an oral exam and must receive a grade of B+ or higher in order for you to qualify for departmental honors.

Identify the general area in which you would like to write an honors thesis.

Identify at least two faculty members that you would be interested to work with for the honors thesis. At least one of these should be someone with whom you have taken a course in which you did very well.

Develop a proposal outlining a rough topic of study for the thesis. This proposal should be at least one full page in length. It should identify some of the issues and questions that you would like to consider in the thesis project and provide some indication of your credentials to undertake the proposed project. It is generally recommended that you speak with at least one of your proposed advisors while you are developing your proposal.

Submit the honors thesis proposal and list of potential advisors to the director of undergraduate studies, who will bring the proposal to the departmental honors committee. This step should be completed by the end of the semester preceding the semester in which you intend to take P498 (or very early in the summer, at the latest, if you intend to take P498 in the fall).

In principle, P498 or P499 may be taken in the summer. Students should not, however, count on this, as faculty members may not be willing to advise theses over the summer. This is entirely a matter of faculty discretion.)

The honors committee will review the proposal, may recommend changes, and may choose to admit or not admit the student to the honors thesis program. Meeting the GPA cutoff is a minimum necessary condition for being accepted into the honors thesis program, not a sufficient condition. Students will be notified of the honors committee decision by the director of undergraduate studies.

Students admitted into the Honors Thesis Program should submit the P498 authorization form, which requires the signature of the proposed thesis advisor. Students should then work with their advisors to develop reading and writing plans for P498.

Download the P498 authorization form

If a student satisfactorily completes P498 (grade of B+ or higher), the student may then enroll in P499 to complete the honors thesis. This requires submission of the P499 authorization form.

Download the P499 authorization form

An oral defense of the completed honors thesis must be scheduled with the thesis advisor and a second reader. The thesis must be successfully defended with an overall grade of at least B+ in order for a student to receive departmental honors.

In order to be eligible for the department’s honors thesis prize, the thesis must be defended by the end of the last week of regular class meetings in the spring semester (before finals week).