Application and Proposal

Procedure for Application

Selecting a Thesis Advisor

If you are eligible and wish to apply for admission into the honors program in AAAS, you choose a faculty advisor willing to supervise your work. This should be a professor who knows your work and with whom you have taken at least one course in a subject area related to your proposed thesis. Most faculty members decline to accept students whom they have not taught in their classes.

You are encouraged to approach potential advisors to whom you must submit a preliminary proposal and who must approve your formal application to the department for honors work before the end of the spring semester of your junior year. It is the student’s responsibility to identify advisors from the AAAS faculty who will be in residence during their senior year. This requires planning and early consultation.

Preparing a Formal Thesis Proposal

If a faculty advisor agrees to supervise your work, the next step is to prepare a formal proposal of the work plan. The proposal should not be longer than three pages in length and must clearly define the problem you plan to research, explain the significance of that problem in terms understandable to the non-specialist, and describe the sources and methods you plan to use in solving it. You must include a brief bibliography essential to your research project. The proposal should be prepared in close consultation with your advisor and must be approved by the department.

Submitting your Application

You must submit the following materials to the AAAS Department by early September of your senior year:

  1. Course Change (Add/Drop) Form for “AAAS 99d”
  2. Your research proposal and bibliography
  3. A copy of your transcript

Students who choose to do a dual-honors thesis with another department must inform their AAAS advisor and the Undergraduate Advising Head (UAH) in writing, enroll in that department’s 99d course, fill out the “Dual Senior Thesis with AAAS” form, and satisfy the requirements of both departments.

By accepting admission into the honors program in AAAS, students agree to complete their own research and writing in a timely manner and to participate actively in the intellectual life of the program.

Writing the Proposal

All forms of writing in the AAAS require you to consider a question, develop an original answer, and support it using specific evidence, but an honors thesis requires you to take two additional steps: you must define the question to be answered and locate the body of primary and secondary sources from which your answers will be drawn. Ideally, the thesis should serve as a capstone experience to your undergraduate education in African and African American Studies.

To a great extent, the success of your thesis will depend on the care with which you take to frame the research question. At the outset of a new project, many scholars find it useful to frame their ideas in the form of a research proposal or prospectus that can be modified in response to constructive criticism. The proposal should be about three pages long and must address with clarity and coherence the following questions:

  • What is the specific interpretive problem you intend to address in your thesis?

  • What makes the problem interesting to you and significant to other scholars? How does it relate to existing scholarship in the field of your research interest?

  • What methods and sources will you use to analyze and solve the problems that you have identified? In what ways does it relate to current scholarship in your field of research?

  • Do you have adequate skills (language skills, research experience, background training, and relevant course work) to do your proposed research project?