Philosophy majors may pursue one of two tracks to earn the honors designation.
Track 1: Senior Honors Thesis
Designed for students who would like to cap off their philosophical studies by producing an extended multichapter treatment of a philosophical topic. There is no strict page requirement for this option; length will vary according to topic, but most theses are between 35 and 60 pages.
Track 2: Senior Honors Essay
Designed for undergraduate students of any major who plan to pursue graduate work in philosophy. This option involves extra coursework (completing 11 rather than nine courses required for the major), access to some 200-level graduate courses and writing an essay, typically between 15 and 30 pages, that may serve as a writing sample for the student’s graduate school applications.
- Students are encouraged to begin planning their honors projects in spring of their junior year. This includes identifying potential supervisors and discussing the possibility of working with them.
- Registering for an honors project typically takes place in fall of a student's senior year after meeting with the philosophy department honors adviser and identifying a faculty supervisor.
Credits and Grades
- Students will be given two course credits — one each semester — for writing a thesis, and one course credit for writing an essay. In order to receive course credit for the essay, students must complete roughly the same amount of work as they would for an independent study course.
- In the case of both the thesis and the essay, a second reader will be selected by the supervisor in consultation with the student. The student will also be given the option of taking an oral exam. The department meets as a whole to evaluate honors theses and essays. Grades are determined according to supervisor and second reader recommendations. Possible grades are No Honors, Honors, High Honors or Highest Honors.
The Role of GPA
The honors designation in philosophy is not dependent on earning a high GPA. Latin honors — summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude — do require a high GPA, but are judged independently of departmental honors. The university only confers summa cum laude degrees to students who also graduate with departmental honors.