The W&L History Department offers its most advanced students the opportunity, during their senior year, to undertake significant original research culminating in an Honors Thesis. Successful candidates earn a Bachelor of Arts degree "with Honors in History."
Prerequisite The prerequisite for honors in History is a grade point average in all courses of 3.500. If during the senior year, the candidate’s cumulative average drops below 3.500 the Honors Committee may drop the candidate from the Program.
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 no later than May 1 of their junior year.
The applicant must write a letter to the Head of the Department nominating the Honors Supervisor and the  other members of the Honors Committee and briefly describing the subject of the thesis.
The Honors Supervisor must be a member of the History Department. One member of the Honors Committee may be a faculty member from another department, but only if that faculty member's area of expertise coincides with the subject of the thesis. Before submitting the formal application, the candidate must ensure that all members of the committee are willing to serve.
The Honors Supervisor The Candidate must select a member of the History Department who knows the candidate’s work and the area in which he/she proposes to study, and invite that member to supervise the Honors project. Candidates must keep in mind that other obligations may prevent a professor from accepting the candidate's invitation.
The Honors Supervisor will direct the thesis, schedule the oral examination, may invite all members of the Department to attend the examination, will see that the candidate makes a copy of the thesis available in the Department office for use by members of the faculty and report the grade to the Registrar.
The Honors Committee The Head of the Department will appoint the Honors Committee which will consist of the Supervisor and two additional members. The Committee will read and evaluate the thesis, participate in and evaluate the oral examination, and by majority vote assign the grade for the completed work.
The Honors Thesis Before the candidate begins work on the thesis, he/she must have undertaken appropriate study to establish the topic, the scope of the project and the approach of the study.
The candidate will complete an Honors thesis under the direction of the Supervisor. The candidate should if possible begin work on the thesis during the junior year, must begin work no later than the first week of the Fall term, and work on the thesis during the Fall and Winter terms of the senior year. The candidate should plan to complete research during the Fall term and use the Winter term for writing and revising.
The candidate should submit preliminary drafts of each section of the thesis to the Supervisor who will read and suggest revisions. Members of the Honors Committee may also read and may request revisions of preliminary drafts.
The text of the thesis should be approximately 50 to 75 pages, 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.
Candidates must complete the thesis no later than the last day of the final examination period of the Winter semester. Exceptions may be approved by a majority vote of the Honors Committee after written petition from the candidate requesting a new deadline and explaining the circumstances that prevent him/ her from meeting the original deadline.
Honors Courses During the Fall and Winter terms of the senior year, the candidate must enroll in History 493: Honors Thesis. If the thesis is not completed at the end of the Fall term, the grade will be WIP [Work in Progress]. When the thesis is complete, the Honors Committee will determine by majority vote the grade awarded the thesis. That grade will replace each outstanding WIP.
Oral Examination During the Spring term of the senior year, the candidate must present and defend the thesis in an oral examination that will cover the thesis and related course work.
The Honors Committee will advise the candidate, conduct the oral examination, and may invite interested members of the faculty and students to attend and participate.
Termination of Candidacy If the candidate withdraws from the program or a majority of the Honors Committee votes to drop the candidate from the program, the Supervisor will convert the candidate’s credits in History 493 to enrollment in History 473: Senior Thesis.
The Honors Committee, by majority vote, will assign a grade for work completed before the termination of candidacy. Candidates who perform inadequately on honors work may use their work to complete History 473 and to satisfy the requirements for the major.
Completion Immediately after the oral examination the Committee will vote to award or withhold Honors, and assign the grade for the work. The successful candidate will provide a finished copy of the thesis to each member of his/her committee who requests one, and a copy to the University Library, Special Collections. The candidate will consult with the Special Collections Librarian to determine the form and binding required for the Library copy. The Honors Supervisor will notify the University Registrar of the award and the title of the thesis so that he/she may enter them in the Commencement program and on the candidate's diploma.
Copies of past Honors Theses may be consulted in Special Collections, Leyburn Library.