Honors in History Policies and Procedures

The Washington and Lee History Department offers advanced students the opportunity to undertake significant original research leading to the production of an Honors Thesis in their senior year. Successful candidates earn a Bachelor of Arts degree "with Honors in History."

Prerequisite  The prerequisite for pursuing Honors in History is a grade point average of 3.500 in all History courses.

Application  Interested students should inquire about the department's Honors Program at the time they declare their major. Candidates must apply for admission to the program in the winter term of their junior year well before registering for senior year courses. The applicant must write a letter to the Head of the Department nominating an Honors Supervisor to direct the thesis, and at least one other member of the department to serve on the Honors Committee as a second reader. The candidate may also add a third member of the committee from another department. Before submitting the formal application, the candidate must ensure that all members of the committee are willing to serve. Along with the letter of application the candidate should submit a one page proposal briefly describing the topic they propose to study and a one page bibliography of some of the principal primary and secondary sources they plan to consult.

The Honors Committee  The Honors Supervisor should be a member of the History Department who knows the candidate's work and the subject area in which s/he proposes to conduct research. The Supervisor will direct the thesis, chair the oral examination, and report the final grade to the Registrar. The other member[s] of the Honors Committee will read and evaluate the thesis, participate in and evaluate the oral examination, and along with the Supervisor assign the grades for the completed work.

The Honors Thesis  The candidate should if possible begin work on the thesis during the junior year, and must begin work no later than the first week of the Fall term of the senior year. S/he should plan to complete research during the Fall term and use the Winter term for writing and revising.
The candidate should submit drafts of each section of the thesis to the Supervisor who will read and suggest revisions. Members of the Honors Committee may also read drafts and make suggestions.
The text of the thesis should be approximately 50 to 75 pages long, double-spaced with normal margins, and follow all relevant guidelines laid down by Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations or some other appropriate manual approved by the supervisor.
Candidates must complete the thesis no later than the last day of the final examination period of the Winter term. Exceptions may be approved by the Honors Committee after written petition from the candidate.

Honors Thesis Details

Oral Examination  During the Spring term of the senior year, the candidate must present and defend the thesis in an oral examination. The Honors Committee will conduct the examination, and may invite interested members of the faculty and students to attend.

Completion  Immediately after the oral examination the Honors Committee will vote to award or withhold Honors, and will assign the grades for the work. The successful candidate will provide a finished copy of the thesis to each member of the committee, and a copy to the University Library, Special Collections. The candidate will consult with the Special Collections Librarian to determine the form required by the Library. The Honors Supervisor will notify the University Registrar of the award and the title of the thesis so that s/he may enter them in the Commencement program and on the candidate's diploma. 

Honors Course Grades  During the Fall and Winter terms of the senior year, the candidate will enroll in History 493: Honors Thesis. At the end of the Fall and Winter terms a grade of WIP [Work in Progress] will be issued. When the thesis is complete and has been defended, the Honors Committee will assign the grades to be awarded. These will replace the outstanding WIPs.

Termination of Candidacy If the candidate withdraws from the program or the Honors Committee deems the thesis unsuccessful, the Supervisor will convert the candidate's credits in History 493 to enrollment in History 473: Senior Thesis, and the committee will assign an appropriate grade[s] for the work completed.

Honors Thesis Details: Besides the title page and table of contents, the thesis may include a list of illustrations (if appropriate), acknowledgements, an introduction, three or four chapters, a conclusion, and a bibliography divided into primary and secondary sources. The title page should be unnumbered. The title of the thesis should appear a third of the way down the page. Below this should be written: A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honors in History. Below this should appear the author's name, our institution, and the date the thesis was submitted. In the lower right hand corner the names of the thesis supervisor and the second reader(s) should be listed with a line above each upon which they may sign their approval of the thesis.

Copies of past Honors Theses may be consulted in Special Collections, Leyburn Library.

Recent Honors Graduates