Departmental Honors

Departmental Honors in Modern Languages and Literatures

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, through its programs in French, German, Italian Studies, and Spanish, recognizes outstanding undergraduate achievement through the awarding of Departmental Honors.

Departmental Honors by Application

Majors who wish to apply for departmental honors must begin preparing in the spring semester of their junior year as the honors process typically takes the entirety of the candidate’s senior year. To quality for honors, the candidate must

  • Be a rising senior with at least a 3.5 GPA in the major, and a 3.0 GPA overall.
  • Submit a proposal for original research in the relevant discipline to a faculty advisor who is appropriate to the discipline and the specific nature of the project. Upon approval of the faculty advisor, the candidate will register in the fall semester of the senior year for a three-credit Individual Study (for course numbers, see individual disciplines).
  • In consultation with the advisor, organize an honors committee who will oversee the project during its second stage.
    • Members of the committee (no fewer than 3 faculty members) may be from within the discipline, the department, or as necessary, from faculty members outside the department;
    • The committee will have oversight over: (1) the merits of the project at its onset; (2) its development and timely completion; (3) the final consideration for the awarding of departmental honors;
    • A candidate is expected to have the committee membership in place by the end of the fourth week of classes in the fall semester.
  • Submit the final draft of the honors proposal to her or his honors committee by the end of the last week of classes in the fall semester.

If the proposal is not deemed appropriate for further research, the candidate will receive three credits for the individual study only.

Preparation for the honors thesis

If the candidate’s proposal passes, in the spring semester the candidate will register for a second Individual Study (three credits). During this second semester, the student will write and submit a thesis that represents the results of the fall semester’s research.

The spring semester is devoted to writing the thesis. By the last day of the final week of classes in the spring semester, the candidate will submit the thesis to the committee for reading and deliberation.

Before the end of the examination period, the candidate will defend the thesis orally before the committee and any others who wish to attend. The committee will decide at the conclusion of the defense whether to award honors.

Other department members who attend the defense have no official part in this decision. Should the candidate fail to gain approval from the committee, she or he may be granted three credits for the coursework only.

Undergraduate research grants

Through the Office of Academic Affairs, qualified students may seek funding for travel expenses in connection with research projects and to pay for expenses such as photocopying and interlibrary loan. The student should consult the honors advisor about deadlines for submitting grant requests.

Departmental honors by nomination

The normal procedure for a senior candidate pursuing departmental honors will entail registration for two consecutive semesters of Individual Study as described above. However, under special circumstances, a senior major may be eligible for departmental honors by nomination of a professor in the case of a project produced as the culmination of a capstone course (such course numbers are variable by discipline). The project will correspond to that of any other honors project. That is to say, the project will represent original research in the relevant discipline undertaken as an independent outcome of the substance of the coursework and it will reflect superior understanding and critical depth of the subject. All other requirements for the granting of departmental honors will apply to the honors process by nomination, including the corresponding GPA and the oral defense before a selected committee.