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Current Thesis Students

The Thesis

A thesis is a historical analysis based on a student’s individual research using primary materials that makes some original contribution to the field. The variety of methods and approaches currently used in the discipline of history means that no single type of thesis constitutes a model. The originality of the thesis may lie in its explication of untapped sources, its reinterpretations of familiar sources, its new synthesis of existing interpretations, or some other novelty. A thesis will almost invariably include: 1) an introduction to set out the problem, state the argument, limit the scope of the inquiry, and position the thesis in relation to the current state of historical opinion on the topic, 2) a set of chapters to present and analyze the relevant evidence, and 3) a conclusion to summarize the findings and suggest future avenues of research. A thesis is typically 40-60 pages in length including a thorough bibliography.

The final thesis is due in early May to allow your faculty adviser and seminar instructor time to read and review your work in advance of the mid-May deadline for submitting honors recommendations to the College.

Authors must submit a digital copy of their completed thesis to three people: the adviser, the 398 instructor, and the Undergraduate Coordinator. Please submit the thesis both as a pdf file and as a Word file. Printed copies are no longer required unless requested by the adviser or the 398 instructor.

The submitted thesis must include a title page, acknowledgments, a one-page summary with five keywords, the core text, footnotes, and a bibliography. The thesis must be carefully proofread and the references prepared carefully and in a consistent style.

Recommendation for Honors

Completion of the 398 seminar does not assure the granting of Honors. The Undergraduate Awards Committee makes a recommendation on Honors, and its recommendation is subject to approval by the WCAS Committee on Undergraduate Academic Excellence. The department uses the following criteria in its deliberations:

If the department recommends Honors, the candidate’s name is forwarded to the WCAS Committee on Undergraduate Academic Excellence, which makes the final determination of honors. Be advised that there have been cases in which the department has recommended Honors but the College has declined to confer Honors.

Undergraduate Research Support Grants

The History Department provides eligible students with up to $250 to help support research undertaken as part of the senior Honors Thesis program.

In order to be eligible for an Undergraduate Research Support Grant from the History Department, students must:

  1. Be writing a senior thesis in the History department;
  2. Have already applied for and been granted an Academic Year research grant from either the Office of Undergraduate Research or the College of Arts and Sciences;
  3. Have documented expenses above and beyond those covered by the AY grant

In order to apply for funds, students should submit the following to the Director of Undergraduate Studies:

  1. The original proposal and budget provided for the Academic Year grant
  2. Receipts demonstrating that the student's costs went beyond the funds provided by the AY grant

Undergraduate Research Support Grants will be assessed on a rolling basis between October and May of each academic year.

The Johnston Prize

The Grace Douglas Johnston prize is awarded to the student whose honors thesis is judged to be of the highest quality. The award is made by the department’s Undergraduate Awards Committee.

Mechanism for Student Complaints

The department Chair will hear cases in which a student feels that he or she has received unsatisfactory consideration from the department’s Undergraduate Awards Committee.