Honors work in Philosophy involves completing Phil 493: Honors Thesis and defending the Honors Thesis successfully.
Petition for Honors candidacy
To become a candidate for Honors work, a student must petition the director of the Honors Thesis Program - in 2011-2012, Prof. Florentien Verhage – in writing no later than the second week of the fall term of the senior year, and preferably by the end of the junior year.
Students interested in doing Honors work should have a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the major, sufficient background in philosophy, and a high level of intellectual and academic accomplishment and maturity in their work in philosophy.
Petitions for Honors candidacy should include a statement of what area or topic the student wants to pursue, and they should be accompanied by a list of the philosophy courses taken and grades received. The names of two possible thesis advisers should also be included, although students should note that he/she is not guaranteed the advisers they propose, and final decisions about advisers will be made by the department.
Honors Thesis program
The Honors Thesis is a significant paper (approximately 35-45 pages, but length can vary slightly if the adviser determines this is appropriate) that represents a thorough examination of some topic. Admittance to Honors candidacy does not guarantee receiving Honors; in order to receive Honors, the student must be awarded an overall grade of B+ or higher by the department.
The Honors student registers twice for Phil 493, in the Fall Term and Winter Term. In the Fall Term, this involves meeting with the thesis adviser, and completing and submitting a chapter or draft of the thesis at the end of the term; in the Winter Term, this involves participating in a supervised Work-In-Progress seminar with all majors writing an Honors thesis, as well as meeting with the thesis adviser. Participation in the WIP seminar counts towards the overall grade.
At the end of the Fall Term, the work the Honors student turns in should be either (1) the first section of your thesis, (2) one of the important middle sections of your thesis, or (3) an overview of the thesis as then conceived. The length and nature of this piece of writing should be determined in consultation with your adviser. In general, students are expected to submit 15-20 pages of their thesis plus their bibliography as developed so far.
Students whose thesis chapter or draft is deemed to be of Honors standard (grade of B+) by the department after the Fall Term will be permitted to proceed with Honors work in the Winter Term.
Students whose thesis chapter or draft is deemed to be not of Honors standard (grade of B or lower) by the department after the Fall Term will not be permitted to proceed with Honors work. Their work will be entered as a Phil 403 (Directed Individual Study), and they must register for Phil 399.
Theses are submitted in the second to last week of Winter Term, and defended orally before the entire faculty during the examination week of Winter Term. The oral defense counts towards the overall grade.
Honors in Philosophy
To receive Honors in Philosophy students must receive an overall grade of B+ or higher. The overall grade is for the written thesis, the oral defense, and participation in the WIP seminar.
If the student receives a grade of B+ or higher, then the student receives a total of six credits in Phil 493 with that grade, and is awarded Honors in philosophy. A copy of the thesis is bound and deposited in the University Library. It may be searched for on the library database using the student's name as the author's name.
If the student receives a grade of B or lower, but higher than F, then the student is not awarded Honors, but receives a total of six credits with that grade: three credits in Phil 473 (Senior Thesis) and three credits in Phil 403 (Directed Individual Study).
Note that if a student who has been permitted to proceed with Honors work after the Fall Term is nevertheless awarded a grade of F for her/his Honors Thesis, then the student receives no credits, and must take Phil 399 or Phil 473 in a future year in order to receive a degree in Philosophy.