Applying and Program Basics
Applying for the SHC 398 Honors Seminar
Outstanding SHC majors interested in honors must apply for admission to the SHC 398 Honors Seminar by the end of the sixth week of the spring quarter of their junior year. Student applicants must: 1) submit a two-page research proposal to the SHC director, 2) indicate that they have secured the assent of a faculty advisor, and 3) submit a transcript indicating that they have a minimum GPA of 3.5 overall and a minimum GPA of 3.5 within SHC. Based on this application (see below), the SHC director will admit qualified students into the honors program.
Students enrolled the SHC 398 Honors Seminar take the course for three quarters in their senior year, during which time they must complete a senior thesis. Students who complete their thesis with distinction as judged by the SHC honors committee may then be recommended for honors. The committee consists of the SHC director, the student’s faculty advisor, and (if needed) one other designated SHC faculty member. The final decision on the awarding of honors is made by the Committee on Honors of WCAS. For more information, see WCAS Honors in Your Major.
Writing a Research Proposal
Before they can begin, students will need to choose a topic, one that will hold their interest over the long haul. Think of topics in previous courses that you have found perplexing. What issues have interested you most? Do you have any special language skills? What kinds of materials do you most enjoy working with? Do you feel a special affinity with a particular place or epoch or issue? What sort of question would you like to answer?
All students must secure, in advance, the agreement of a faculty member to act as their advisor. After having given some thought to potential topics, students should approach a prospective advisor, and work with them to define a compelling, but workable project.
Based on this process of thinking, reading, and discussion, students should prepare a short (two-page) statement outlining their proposed topic. It is important to prepare as concise and coherent a statement as possible at this preliminary stage. Be sure to identify a specific problem or question the thesis will address. Indicate the method with which you will treat this problem. If possible, set your approach within the context of what other scholars working in related areas have written. A short bibliography is essential. Your objective is to demonstrate that you have begun to think through the research process, that you have acquainted yourself with your material and are aware of the issues at stake in your project. The proposal should also speak to your abilities, drawing attention to relevant course work, previous research experience, language skills, or other factors relevant to the project. Be certain to include the name of a proposed advisor. No one will be admitted to the seminar without faculty sponsorship.
An excellent guide to writing a senior thesis has been prepared by the History Department. Although there will some differences for theses in different domains, this pamphlet should prove quite helpful.