Procedures and Guidelines
Majors in the American Studies Department who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher, and who wish to pursue a special program of independent research resulting in an Honors Thesis, may undertake Honors work in American Studies. The Honors Thesis, once approved by the candidate’s Honors Committee, qualifies the student to graduate “with honors” or “with highest honors.”
Procedures for Honors Enrollment
Spring, Junior Year:
1. Meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, during the second semester of the junior year to discuss details of eligibility and program requirements.
2. At this same time—second semester of the junior year—identify a Thesis Advisor with the advice and assistance of the Director of Undergraduate Studies and request the faculty member’s consent to serve as advisor. The applicant must have the same Thesis Advisor throughout both semesters of the entire project. Students seeking Departmental Honors must secure their advisor’s participation the semester prior to starting the Honors Program.
3. Register for AMST 691H for the fall of the senior year and AMST 692H in the spring of the senior year. December graduates will reverse the order of the semesters, signing up first for AMST 691H in their last spring semester, and then AMST 692H in their last fall semester. Students taking AMST 691H and 692H will receive a letter grade for both semesters.
4. Once registered for AMST 691H, confer with the Thesis Advisor and choose two additional committee members, one of who may be outside the department. The Director of Undergraduate Studies is provided a list of the committee members. Students should confirm their committee members by the beginning of fall term of the senior year.
Summer, Junior Year:
1. The summer between the Junior and Senior Year is an important time for developing a thesis proposal, organizing a bibliography, reading in the field of study, and completing fieldwork and research.
Fall, Senior Year:
Some students may have compelling reasons for beginning honors work in the fall of their senior year, and they should see the Director of Undergraduate Studies as soon as possible in the fall semester. Thepreferred time line and advisory procedures are outlined above.
Research grants for Honors Thesis students are available and must be submitted to the Honors Committee Chair and to the Director of Undergraduate Study for review at least one week before thegrant deadline of Sept. 30.
Fall, Senior Year, con’t.
- In the first semester of honors work, AMST 691H, the honors candidate should 1) finalize a bibliography, 2) complete general reading in a chosen field of research, 3) create an outline of thesis chapters, and 4) complete the bulk of the specialized research on this project.
- In consultation with the Honors Advisor, the student will prepare a preliminary thesis proposal by the mid-semester (2-4 pages, with an attached bibliography), defining as specifically as possible the project to be undertaken. Copies of this document go to all members of the student’s committee. The committee will evaluate the topic and the proposal, keeping in mind such things as method, bibliography, and structure proposed for the final paper. Taking any criticism into account, the student will prepare a final draft of the proposal for submission to the committee. The approved version of the proposal, signed by all members of the committee, will be filed with the Thesis Advisor no later than December 1 (May 1 for December graduates)
Spring, Senior Year:
1. In AMST 692H, the honors candidate will write and defend orally an interpretative essay of a length appropriate to the scope of the project. (A typical length of a honors thesis is forty to fifty pages, but if a project includes transcripts of interviews or lengthy quotations from unpublished letters, for example, it could be longer.) Alternative final projects for honors work that demonstrate best practices in research, analysis, and production, may also be proposed, such as photographic essays, film, exhibits, websites. Please review the “Honors Thesis hand-out” from the UNC Writing Center for great tips on organizing and writing a major research paper.
2. For the deadlines for the thesis and oral defense, please consult the document titled“Undergraduate Honors Program Senior Thesis, Deadlines and Due Dates” for the current academic year. Honors candidates will submit a complete draft of the thesis to the Honors Advisor no later than the first week following spring vacation (fall break for December graduates). After receiving comments from the advisor and revising as necessary, the student will submit the final draft of the paper to the Honors Committee members not later than two weeks before the scheduled oral examination on the project. Honors students must complete the thesis and defense prior to the deadline for the receipt of the official May Degree with Honors Report to the Honors Office. This date is usually in the second week of April.
3. Style and format should follow those recommended in one of the standard style manuals: the MLA style sheet or the University of Chicago Manual of Style. See “Guidelines for Preparation and Submission of Honors Theses.”
4. At the close of the oral defense, the Thesis Advisor will send the results to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who will convey to the Undergraduate Honors Office the appropriate recommendation (Honors or Highest Honors). The appropriate letter grade for AMST 691H and 692H will be assigned to the student by the Honors Advisor, and the committee will assign the degree of honors. A signed title page of the Honors Thesis will be sent to the Director of Undergraduate Studies by the Thesis Advisor following the oral defense.
5. Occasionally a student will elect to withdraw from the Honors program. There are also instances in which the student’s essay falls below the specified standards for the thesis, and “no honors” is voted by the committee. In these cases AMST 691H and/or 692H will count as ordinary Directed Readings courses (AMST 396).
6. Following the oral defense and the completion of any changes required by the committee, the candidate must submit by the date of graduation two copies of the Honors Thesis to the Department Manager of American Studies.
7. One copy will be deposited in Wilson Library and must be on regulation bond paper (100% rag or cotton fiber 16# or 20# weight), unstapled with a 1 1/4″ left-hand margin. Print quality must be such as to allow easy readability.
8. The other copy is for the American Studies Department. It may be on good quality copy paper suitable for binding. The title page for each copy of the Honors Thesis must be signed by the three members of the student’s Honors Committee. See “Sample Honors Title Page” down-loadable document at the “Senior Honors Thesis Guidelines for Academic Units, Faculty Advisors, and Students.”