Department of English

The Honors Program

The Honors Program is for students who have been highly successful in their English concentration coursework and would like the opportunity to pursue an in-depth research project.

Requirements

Students may pursue honors in either the English or Nonfiction Writing tracks. The course requirements for the Honors Program are the same as those for the regular concentration, with the following additions:

  • At least three upper-level seminars or comparable small courses in which students have the opportunity to do independent research, take significant responsibility for discussion, and do extensive scholarly and critical writing. Students are encouraged to include at least one graduate seminar in their program. 
  • During the senior year, honors candidates must complete two additional thesis writing courses beyond the ten courses required by the regular concentration:
  • Honors candidates must continue to receive more As than Bs in courses taken as part of the concentration.  Courses completed with a grade of C will not count toward an Honors concentration. A student who receives such a grade and wishes to continue in the program must complete a comparable course with a grade higher than C.

The Honors Thesis

The Honors thesis is an extended essay, usually between 50-80 pages, written under the supervision of a faculty advisor and second reader. (Where appropriate, the advisor or the reader, but not both, may be in another department.) The thesis may be an interdisciplinary or creative project, but it is usually an essay on a scholarly or critical problem dealing with works of literature in English. The specific topic and approach of the thesis are worked out between the student and the thesis advisor, with assistance from the student's second reader. This process should begin in the latter part of the student's junior year.

A good way to get an idea of what sorts of projects are possible is to visit the English department page on the Brown Digital Repository site, which stores theses from previous years, or to meet with the Honors Director.

A prospectus describing the project and endorsed by the faculty advisor must be submitted to the Honors Director at the beginning of the senior year. A full list of dates and deadlines for each of our honors programs can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions section below. 

Eligibility

Admission to the English Honors Program depends on evidence of ability and promise in the study of literature. To be eligible for admission, students must have received more As than Bs (and no Cs or below) in concentration courses completed. Students must complete an application; supply a brief writing sample, and request two letters of recommendation from English faculty with whom they have taken courses. If necessary, letters may come from faculty in related departments. Letters from teaching assistants may only serve as supporting recommendations. Candidates must also submit a one-page project proposal signed by the faculty member who has agreed to serve as the thesis advisor. 

Apply

Frequently Asked Questions

Interested students should apply during the spring semester of their junior year. Applications open in January and close in April.

Yes!  December or mid-year graduates who wish to apply to honors have two options, but the first is highly encouraged:  

Option 1:

In their 5th semester (Spring), students apply to the honors program along with the other juniors. Accepted students will be incorporated into the regular honors cohort and must meet the same deadlines: i.e. they must complete their theses at the same time as the other honors students (though for mid-years this will be at the end of their 7th semester). They register for ENGL1991 English Honors Seminar in the Fall, and ENGL1992 Senior Honors Thesis in the Spring.

Option 2:

In the 7th semester (the Spring of their final year), students take an independent study with their thesis advisor, under whose direction they will begin to research and write their theses. This course must be taken S/NC.

In the 8th semester (the Fall of their final year), as they complete their theses, students take ENGL1992 for a grade. Mid-year graduates should consult with the Honors Director for information about deadlines.

The Honors Committee evaluates the applications and informs students by letter about the decisions during the first week of pre-registration.

Your thesis should be written according to MLA guidelines including title page, footnotes or endnotes, and bibliography. Margins should be one and a half inches on the left, and one inch on the right, top, and bottom of the page. Page numbers should be centered and placed three-fourths of an inch below the top edge of the paper. 

A sample title page and permission page can be found here and must be included in your final draft. Be sure to sign the second page where indicated.

Please submit your final thesis as a PDF to your advisor, second reader, and the Honors Director. A single, bound copy of the should  be delivered to the English department no later than 4:30 PM the date of your final deadline for archiving in the Joh Hay Library. This copy must be single-sided in a standard binding. 

Wednesday, September 15

Secure second reader for thesis. Second reader should submit acknowledgement to Professor Jacques Khalip, Honors Advisor, English Honors Program. 

Draft prospectus and bibliography are due to thesis advisor and second reader.

Wednesday, September 22

Revised and SIGNED prospectus is due. Note: Have your thesis advisor and second reader approve and SIGN the prospectus before you submit it in-person/class to Professor Jacques Khalip.

Wednesday, October 10

Eight pages of writing due to thesis advisor and Professor Khalip.

November 9-16

Register for ENGL 1992 (Senior Honors Thesis) for Semester II. Professor Khalip will issue registration overrides via the CAB

Monday, November 15

Ten more pages of writing due to thesis advisor and Professor Khalip.

Wednesday, December 8

Minimum of 25 pages of draft material is due to thesis advisor, second reader, AND Professor Khalip. Each Honors student must turn in a minimum of 25 pages of draft material to the thesis advisor and second reader to receive a grade for ENGL 1991.

Wednesday, December 15

Thesis advisors submit reports to Professor Khalip.

Tuesday, March 1

ASK concentration plan must be updated to reflect courses you are counting toward the concentration and advisor approved

Thursday, March 3

Full DRAFT of the thesis is due to thesis advisor and second reader. Thesis advisors and second readers must send written confirmation of receipt to Professor Jacques Khalip, Honors Program Advisor.

Monday, April 11

Final PDF copy of thesis is due to thesis advisor, second reader, AND Professor Khalip.

Late theses cannot be accepted for honors after the deadline; students who hand in theses after the deadline but before the end of the term will receive a grade for the thesis course, but they will not be eligible for departmental honors.

Tuesday, April 26

Written reports and grades from thesis advisor and second reader are due to Professor Khalip.

Monday, September 20

1) Secure second reader for thesis. Second reader should submit acknowledgment (via web portal) to Professor
Kate Schapira, Honors Advisor for Nonfiction Writing. 
Please provide web portal link to your second reader.

2) Prospectus is due to the Honors Advisor, first reader, and second reader.

Monday, September 27

Revised and SIGNED prospectus is due.
Note: Have your first reader and second reader approve and SIGN the prospectus before you submit it
in-person/class 
to Professor Kate Schapira.

November 9-16

Register for ENGL 1994 (Nonfiction Honors Thesis) for Semester II. Professor Schapira will issue registration overrides via the CAB.

Friday, November 17

Minimum of 40 pages of draft material due to ENGL 1993 first reader, second reader, AND Professor Schapira no later than December 17
Each Honors student must turn in a minimum of 40 pages of draft material to the first reader, second reader, and Honors Advisor to receive a grade for ENGL1993.

Tuesday, December 21

First and second readers submit reports to Professor Schapira.

Tuesday, March 1

ASK concentration plan must be updated again to reflect courses you are counting toward the concentration and advisor approved.

Thursday, March 10

Full DRAFT of the thesis due to Professor Schapira, Honors Advisor for Nonfiction Writing, first reader, and second reader.

Thursday, April 14

FINAL PDF copy of thesis is due to first reader, second reader, AND Professor Schapira.
Late theses cannot be accepted for honors after the deadline; students who hand in theses after the deadline but before the end of the term will receive a grade for the thesis course, but they will not be eligible for departmental honors.

Thursday, April 28

Written reports and grades from first reader and second reader are due to Professor Schapira.

Additional Information

In addition to the English concentration, we offer a concentration track in the practice of Nonfiction Writing.
The Department of English offers several pathways for incoming students to deepen and strengthen their ability to think and write about literature and culture.
Have you heard about the English concentration but never quite known what it entails or how it differs from other literature concentrations?

Would you like to know more about the English concentration and how it differs from other literature departments?