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There are two routes by which philosophy majors may earn honors: by successfully completing honors-level research work in a 5000-level class; and by successfully completing an honors-level research paper written under the supervision of an honors-thesis supervisor through PHIL 4998. Honors students are expected to present their work at the Senior Colloquium in the Spring Semester.

Eligibility (for either route)

To be eligible for the honors program a student must:

  • be a senior major in philosophy
  • have a B+ (3.33) average in courses being counted toward the major
  • have completed the distribution requirements* for the major and two courses above 2000, including one course above 3000, not including 4998
  • meet with the Undergraduate Chair to declare intention to pursue honors no later than the last day of Add period in the semester during which honors coursework is planned

All students interested in pursuing honors must first meet with the Undergraduate Chair and submit the completed honors form before the end of Add period. This first step is important. Notification by a faculty that your paper has met the honors requirement does not necessarily mean you will be granted honors if you haven't met the eligibility requirements.

*In select cases, students may pursue honors before completing certain distribution requirements. Students should meet with the Undergraduate Chair to discuss this possibility.

(A) Honors by taking a 5000-level class

Students wishing to earn honors by taking a 5000-level class must first get permission from the instructor of the course to enroll in it. Once enrolled, the student participates in all normal aspects of the class, and must write a research paper of about 20 pages (consult individual instructors for requirements). The professor for the class will certify that the research paper is of sufficiently high-enough standard to qualify for honors. The professor must inform the Undergraduate Chair of their decision. Completion with a passing grade of a 5000-level course does not guarantee the award of honors.

This option does not by-pass the eligibility requirements noted above. That is, the student must meet the above conditions before requesting permission to enroll in a 5000-level class to fulfill the honors requirement.

Students who wish to pursue honors via a 5000-level course must complete the application form and have the instructor and undergraduate chair sign off before the end of Add period.

(B) Honors by enrolling in PHIL 4998 with a faculty supervisor

In consultation with the undergraduate chair and a faculty member who will supervise the thesis, the student is assigned to an appropriate supervisor. The student then enrolls in PHIL 4998 under that supervisor's mentorship. While meeting the above eligibility requirements is necessary to pursue honors through the PHIL 4998 route, there is no guarantee that there will be a faculty member available to supervise any topic of a student's interest. PhIL 4998 does count toward the completion of the major but may not be used to satisfy distribution or level requirements. Students enrolled in PHIL 4998 are urged to work out a schedule for consultation and a timetable for completion of the thesis with their advisors.

The senior thesis is an essay which is normally around 6,000-7,500 words in length (25-30 double-spaced pages). The thesis advisor must receive copies of a typed final draft of the thesis at least ten days prior to the final examination period. If the thesis supervisor deems it appropriate, she may identify a second reader of the thesis (normally from the philosophy faculty), and an oral examination may be held. On the basis of the thesis (and, where relevant, the oral examination), the advisor (and the second reader, when relevant) decides whether to award honors. The advisor alone decides the grade for PHIL 4998. These will be evaluated for clarity of expression, cogency of argument, scholarship, and originality. Submission of a thesis does not guarantee the award of honors.