Honors Program in English

The English Department Honors Program is designed to provide exceptional students in the major with opportunities to study literature, literary theory, and cultural criticism in a two-semester seminar format that culminates in a final Honors thesis written in consultation with faculty advisors. The program is particularly committed to developing thinking, writing, and research skills for students wishing to pursue graduate work in English or pursue other professional fields such as law or medicine.

Beginning in the first semester of their senior year, Honors students take a sequence of two courses — English 4040 and 4250. Both seminars are writing-intensive; the first, English 4040, assists students in formulating plans for the thesis. In English 4250, students work directly with their advisors and finish their honors thesis by the end of the second semester of the senior year. Applicants should note that English 4040 and 4250 are designed to run consecutively. It is not possible to take these courses out of order.  

Note:   Students accepted into both the English/Creative Writing major and the Honors Program may write a creative honors thesis. Please see Professor Alcorn (Honors) or Professor Mallon (Creative Writing) for details.


To enter the program, Honors students must have a GPA of 3.00 overall and 3.25 in English Department courses. For a student to remain in good standing, the same minimum grade levels must be maintained throughout the program. Honors students who complete the two seminars with at least a B average, achieve a final GPA of at least 3.40 in the major, and complete the senior thesis with a grade of A or A- will graduate with Honors in English.

How to apply

Interested majors should discuss the Honors program with their advisors and with the Director of the Honors Program (currently, Professor Alcorn) and complete the application available in the Department Office by early March of the junior year. Students will be notified of acceptance prior to registration for the Spring Semester.

The BA/MA program in English

Students admitted into English honors are also accepted into the department’s combined BA/MA program. This program allows students to graduate with both a BA and an MA in English. In order to make progress in the program, students need to take, in addition to the honor’s courses, two graduate level courses in their senior year, normally one each semester. These graduate courses can be taken as either as electives or as the courses needed in particular categories to fulfill the specific requirements not yet completed for the BA degree.

Petitioning to enter the BA/MA program

The English department recognizes that there are students who do not enroll in, or who are not admitted into, English Honors who nevertheless would thrive in our combined BA/MA program. Students who wish to pursue the BA/MA may therefore petition the Director of Undergraduate Studies (currently, Prof. Alcorn), who will consider the petition along with the Director of Graduate Studies. Interested students should contact the DUS directly, and should do so no later than spring preregistration of their junior year.