Department Honors (Honors Thesis)

The Honors Program in English provides the opportunity for qualified majors to undertake advanced literary research in the writing of a Senior Honors Thesis, a substantial, sustained piece of critical or creative writing of at least 35 pages in length. Successful completion of the Program leads to graduation with “Distinction in the Major.” This program is especially recommended for students who plan to pursue a graduate degree in literary studies.

There are two main tracks students may pursue to complete the English Department Honors Program: the Seminar Track, and the Individual Track.  The primary differences between the tracks have to do with what part of the Junior/Senior year the student is able to spend working on the program.  See below for the full description of each track.

Seminar Track:

Students should apply to the Honors Program Seminar Track in the Winter of their junior year. Majors who have completed the sophomore year with a minimum GPA of 3.5 (overall and in the major) may apply for admission to the Honors Program Seminar Track. The application includes:

  1. An application form available from the Department Office.
  2. A statement of purpose indicating why you are applying for the Honors Program and the kind of research topic you might want to pursue in the Honors Thesis (1-2 pages).
  3. A writing sample (no more than ten pages); it is recommended that you submit work originally written for an English course.

* If you cannot complete some component of the Honors Program Seminar Track according to the standard schedule (English 198H in Spring of junior year, English 196 in the Fall of the senior year), please also include a brief document that explains why you cannot follow the normal schedule and indicates the timeframe in which you propose to complete the Honors Program.  (See the Individual Track details below for additional options for completing the program under an alternative schedule.)

Applications for the Program must be submitted in hard copy to 3432-B South Hall, the English Undergraduate Advisor’s office, with deadlines to be announced each Winter.  The undergraduate staff advisor will notify applicants of their acceptance after the Undergraduate Committee has reviewed their applications.

The English Honors Program Seminar Track comprises two related courses (4 credits each), normally taken in two consecutive quarters from junior to senior year:

  1. Honors Seminar (English 198H). The Honors Seminar is a one-term course offered in the Spring that exposes students to the standards and best practices of research-level literary scholarship while also preparing the ground for the students’ intended research topics. The course offers theoretical discussions concerning the nature of our discipline and its methods, goals, and assumptions; it attends to some of the current trends in the discipline and our department through a focus on our centers and specializations; and it offers guidance and instruction with regard to research and research methods.
  2. Honors English / Senior Thesis (English 196). The Senior Thesis is a one-term course, which students will normally take in the Fall quarter of their senior year. Students taking this course will write a substantial, sustained piece of critical writing of at least 35 pages under the mentorship of a faculty member. The senior theses are due no later than the last day of classes in the quarter in which English 196 is taken. The English Department encourages projects that are creatively envisioned or that incorporate creative elements. Even projects oriented toward creative writing, however, must include a research component. This project is to be typed in a form declared suitable by the department, and will be retained in the department archives. A sample format for the thesis is available in the English Department. English 196 is worth four units.

Each of these courses may be used to satisfy an upper-division English elective, but they may not be used to satisfy the English 197 upper division seminar requirement.

Download the Seminar Track Honors Program Information & Application Form (2016-17).

Individual Track:

Majors who have completed at least two quarters of the junior year with a minimum GPA of 3.5 (overall and in the major) may apply for admission to the Honors Program under the Individual Track. The application includes:

1) An application form available from the Department office

2) A prospectus (2-3 pages) with a proposed reading list for the thesis. (Examples of the prospectus format and reading list are available in the Department of English main office. The prospectus should clearly indicate the area of your proposed study, the problems you wish to solve, and the methodology you will use to solve them.)

3) A statement of sponsorship from the faculty member who will supervise and evaluate the project. (This can be submitted as part of the application form or separately.)

The English Honors Program Individual Track comprises two related courses (4 credits each) taken in two consecutive quarters during the senior year, preferably fall and winter. The first course is an independent study (English 199). In the independent study, with the guidance of your sponsor, you complete a substantial portion of the required research and submit for formal evaluation some part of the thesis or creative work. The second course is Honors English (English 196), during which you complete the honors project. Each of these courses may be used to satisfy an upper-division English elective, but they may not be used to satisfy the English 197 upper division seminar requirement.

Applications for the Program must be submitted before the quarter in which the honors project is to begin. For specific dates, contact the staff undergraduate advisor, Brian Ernst, at (805) 893-4710 or at bernst@hfa.ucsb.edu. The undergraduate staff advisor will notify you after the Undergraduate Committee has reviewed the application.

If your project requires financial support, you may wish to contact the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) office for information on undergraduate fellowships and scholarships.  Website: http://www.duels.ucsb.edu/urca/grant

Download the Individual Track Honors Program Information & Application Form.

Distinction in the Major

Students complete the English Honors Program and earn Distinction in the Major by submitting to the faculty mentor a substantial, sustained piece of critical or creative writing of at least 35 pages in length. This project is to be typed in a form declared suitable by the department, and will be retained in the department archives. A sample format for the thesis is available in the English Department.  Honors projects are due no later than the last day of classes in the quarter you enroll in English 196.

Successful completion of the 8.0 units of coursework and Honors Thesis project via either track carries the designation of “Distinction in the Major” if a student: 1) attains a GPA of 3.5 overall in the English Honors Program and 2) maintains a GPA of 3.5 in English (in the overall major and the upper division). For exceptional work the Undergraduate Committee may recommend additional department recognition of “Special Distinction.”