Honors Program

The Humanities Program offers students the opportunity to intensify and expand their undergraduate study by writing an Honors Thesis, which is an independent study and graduating with Honors.

To be eligible for Honors in Humanities, you should:

  • have a general GPA of at least 3.3
  • have a GPA in Humanities of at least 3.5

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • submit Humanities Honors Thesis Agreement in person to the Humanities Honors Council Representative (see below)
  • apply for the course: HUMN 4950 Honors Thesis (and independent study for Honors Students) after you fill out the paper work
  • complete and submit the Registration to Graduate with Honors to the Honors Office in Norlin M400M by the required date
  • maintain a suitable GPA overall and in the major during the Honors year
  • write an Honors Thesis
  • defend the Honors Thesis in an oral exam
  • consistently meet with your Honors Thesis Advisor. If you are having trouble meeting with this person, it is your responsibility to contact the Humanities Honors Representative.

Humanities Honors Council Representative
The Humanities Honors Council Representative serves on the Arts and Sciences Honors Council, the committee that oversees honors designations. The Humanities Honors Council Representative will:

  • approve your Honors Application Form and Application Packet for Graduation with Honors
  • provide additional information about the process of writing and defending a thesis
  • possibly serve as your Honors Thesis Advisor or as a member of your committee
  • help you locate a Honors Thesis Advisor, if needed
  • represent your interests at the Honors Council Meetings, where final designations are awarded

The current Humanities Honors Council Representative is Dr. Paul Gordon, (303) 492-6227, paul.gordon@colorado.edu

Honors Thesis Advisor
You must have an Honors Thesis Advisor. This person must be:

  • a faculty member from the Humanities Department, or
  • a member of the Comparative Literature faculty, or
  • someone who has taught a Humanities course, or
  • in rare cases, someone from another department who doesn’t meet any of these criteria (must be approved by the Humanities Honors Council Representative)

The choice of your Honors Thesis Advisor is crucial to the success of your project as your Advisor will help you create a challenging and coherent personal course of study. You will need to consult regularly with your Advisor as you design and complete your project.

Examination Committee
This committee consists of at least three professors:

  • your Honors Thesis Advisor
  • a member of the Arts and Sciences Honors Council
  • a member from a department outside of Humanities

One of these professors must be from The Humanities Program. They will read your thesis and ask you questions about it at your oral exam, called a Defense. The Humanities Honors Council Representative and/or your Thesis Advisor may have suggestions about who could serve on this committee. You will need to contact these people at least by the beginning of the semester in which you plan to defend your thesis. All members read the thesis, attend the exam, question you, and vote on the honors recommendation or designation.

The Honors Thesis
The thesis is a significant, extended essay – usually 35-50 pages – on a topic of your choice but often building on work you have already done in one or more of your classes which also helps with the selection of a Thesis Advisor. Your thesis should demonstrate ability in the following areas:

  • interdisciplinary (literature & art, art & music, film & literature, literature & theory, etc.)
  • extensive research
  • critical thinking (close analysis of the texts)
  • excellent writing skills

If you wish to receive credit for the Honors Thesis (encouraged but not required) you will need to register for the Humanities Honors Thesis course HUMN 4950 (which is an independent study for Honors students) for three credit hours either during the semester that you complete and defend your Honors Thesis or in the preceding semester. You will need to complete the Humanities Honors Thesis Agreement, obtain the necessary signatures and bring the approved Agreement to the Humanities office for a staff member to enroll you in the course.  On the second page of this Honors Thesis Agreement, circle “yes” and be sure to bring the completed and signed form to the Humanities Office before the add deadline so a staff member can register you.

Mechanical Guidelines
Check with the Honors Department for this information. You and your Honors Thesis Advisor should choose what form of citation is best (MLA versus Chicago; endnotes versus footnotes, etc.).

Thesis Deadlines
A rigorous schedule of deadlines must be established with the thesis director. In addition to the Honors Program deadlines, the following are some general guidelines to be observed:

  • For graduation in May

The thesis should be completed by Spring Break (late March). So, beginning with the declaration of intent to graduate with Honors a year before, you should begin planning/researching the project during the summer, and be ready to begin writing in the Fall (if not sooner). The bulk of the thesis should be completed during the Fall semester, with the first part of the Spring semester (Jan-Spring Break) spent finalizing the project and editing.

  • For graduation in December

The thesis needs to be completed before the beginning of the Fall semester. So the thesis must be well under way during the previous Spring semester and largely completed during the summer, with the first part of the Fall semester spent finalizing the project and editing.

Defending the Thesis
After you complete your thesis, you will need to “defend” your thesis in an oral exam conducted by your Examination Committee.

  • This generally lasts one to two hours.
  • It is usually held in the Humanities Seminar Room in Ketchum or a faculty member’s office.
  • For Fall graduates, the defenses are held the first week of November; for Spring graduates, the defenses are held the first week in April.
  • Questions will focus on the Thesis but also will expect you to explore clearly and critically some ideas, authors, and texts not specifically covered in the thesis but pertaining to wider knowledge of the field in the area of the thesis.

You will need to set up a date and time with your committee fairly early on. There are no defenses held in the Summer. To schedule the Humanities Seminar Room please contact the Humanities Main Office.

Honors Designations
If you complete the thesis and pass your oral defense, you will be awarded one of three honors designations explained below (these are Latin terms that simply mean “with honors,” “with high honors,” “with highest honors”). The designation you receive is dependent on the quality of the thesis, the quality of the defense, and on your GPA. Please note that these are not rigid guidelines; for example, a person with a GPA of 3.3 could be awarded a magna if the thesis is especially outstanding.

• cum laude: generally awarded when you have an overall GPA of 3.3
• magna cum laude: overall GPA of 3.5
• summa cum laude: overall GPA of 3.8

The Key to Success
Most students who elect to do Honors find it a challenging and rewarding experience. Success depends on starting early, working steadily and consistently, and meeting regularly with your Honors Thesis Advisor.

Award Banquet
For graduating Honors students there is an Honors Ceremony at the end of Fall and Spring terms in which you receive your Honors medal, walk across the stage, shake the Dean’s hand, and enjoy a brunch provided for you, your parents, and friends.

Information about the University of Colorado-Boulder Honors Program can be found at the Honors Program website . This site provides guidelines and requirements, frequently asked questions, application packet, graduation deadlines and thesis guidelines.

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