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Procedures for admission to the PWAD Honors Thesis program

Successfully completing an honors thesis in any discipline is a mark of high scholarly achievement. Standards and expectations are high, and it is not to be taken lightly. Before beginning the program students should already have had some experience researching and writing a substantial paper (20pp or more). Furthermore, a thesis is expected to 1. Utilize primary sources or some other form of original research, and 2. Present a unique and innovative argument based on that evidence and which contributes to advancing the discipline. An honors thesis is not a summary of a problem, or a synthesis of others’ arguments. It must be original and contributory. Enrollment in the program will be capped, and selection for admission will be competitive.

To aid students in preparing to write a thesis and to further clarify the Curriculum’s standards, as of Spring 2011, the following procedures must be followed by students seeking admission to the PWAD Honors Thesis program.

Eligibility
Majors must have at least a 3.3 grade point average in the major through their junior year. Interested students must also have taken a PWAD research seminar (PWAD 670-679, or a PWAD 680), a HIST 398, or a parallel course in another discipline providing an appropriate background in research design and that produced a significant paper.

Application
By the end of the first week of March in the spring preceding their senior year, students must complete the following form, save and submit it (by email is fine) to the chair of the Curriculum. We recommend you download, open and edit it with a program such as Adobe Reader which may be freely downloaded here.

Adobe_PDF_file_icon_24x24PWAD Honors Thesis Form 

Students admitted to the program then enroll in PWAD 691H and 692H in consecutive semesters (usually the fall and spring).  PWAD 691H will normally be taught as an in-class seminar with all thesis students enrolled.  PWAD 692H does not formally meet as a group; it is essentially an independent study with their thesis adviser.  A grade will be assigned separately for each course.  Students who do not demonstrate adequate progress in 691H will not be allowed to enroll in 692H.

Defense 
The thesis must be defended orally before a committee of at least two faculty (one being their adviser). If appropriate, a third faculty reviewer can be added in order to confer “highest honors” on a particularly outstanding thesis.