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Indiana University Bloomington

Hutton Honors College

 — Indiana University

Joshua Kates
Honors Program Director
Ballantine 420

1. How is your honors degree program administered? Is there a specific person who acts as coordinator? Is there a faculty committee?

The English department has an honors program director and an honors committee.

2. What are the requirements for admission into your honors program? How are students recruited for your program? May students recommend themselves?

The honors committee screens and interviews the self-nominated candidates in order to admit into the program those most likely to succeed in a course of study which includes tutorial instruction and independent research. To be considered, a student must have an overall 3.3 average, with a 3.5 average in English courses; faculty recommendations and the student's motivation also weigh heavily.

3. How does a student graduate with honors from your department?

An honors student must meet the minimum course and credit requirements (listed in #4 below), and write a honors thesis while enrolled in L499. The completed thesis is read by the advisor and another reader from the English department who then give the candidate a one-hour oral examination.

4. What courses do students take as juniors and before in order to prepare for working on the senior project? How are these honors seminars and courses typically conducted? What are the usual requirements in certain courses?

For honors candidates the following minimum course and credit requirements replace those of the regular English major described in the Bulletin of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • L202 Literary Interpretation 3 credit hours
  • L371 Introduction to Criticism 3 credit hours
  • One 300 hundred level course (appropriate to each of four periods in the history of literature; English) 12 credit hours
  • L399 Junior Honors Seminar 3 credit hours
  • L499 Senior Independent Study 4 credit hours
  • Electives 5 credit hours
Minimum Required Total 30 credit hours

Note: So that honors candidates will have the requisite writing practice before taking the seminars, and so that they will have sufficient background in English literature to make a reasonable choice in the subject of their thesis topics, the honors committee recommends that they take L202, Literary Interpretation, and two 300-level courses in historical periods in their sophomore year.

5. What is the nature of the senior project and what are the requirements for completing it?

In the senior year, the candidate for honors conceives and executes an honors thesis of 30 to 50 pages; the thesis is usually the product of two semesters' work. All the senior honors candidates normally enroll in two credit hours of L499 in the first eight-week session of the spring semester.

During the second eight-weeks of the fall semester and the first eight-weeks of the spring semester, all students enrolled in L499 will be required to meet each week for a colloquium at which one or more students will make some presentation on the work they are doing and the problems they are encountering. These sessions will be chaired by the director of the honors program; the directors of the students making presentations will be in attendance, however, and will participate in the discussion following the presentation(s).

The candidate chooses his or her own thesis director, often with the help of the honors program director, who will suggest members of the English Department whose special interests lie in the area of the student's topic. The relationship between candidate and director is informal; they usually meet once every week or two and develop a systematic program of research leading toward completion of the thesis.

By the middle of the first semester, the candidate should complete a brief 5 page thesis prospectus. The report should consist of a detailed statement of the aims of the thesis as those have been developed by reading and discussion-procedure rather than content may be emphasized-and a bibliography of completed and projected reading. Two copies of this prospectus are given to members of the English Department who will serve as readers of the finished thesis. The candidate meets with these two readers to discuss the prospectus and the aims of the thesis. The director of the thesis normally assigns a grade of R for the first semester of L499 on the basis of the work in progress.

6. How might the work required for an honors degree be particularly beneficial in future endeavors?

Students learn how and where to find resources as well as how to work independently. They develop the analytical and interpretation skills during their research and writing of the thesis that will be necessary in graduate school or in any professional context. The thesis gives them a strong piece of writing that will demonstrate their ability to organize and complete an ambitious project.

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