The honors thesis is a critical paper of 12,000-18,000 words (approximately 40-60 pages). While writing your honors thesis, you will work individually with a member of the English department faculty. The topic of the thesis is proposed by you and approved by the faculty member who has agreed to direct the thesis. Subject and treatment vary widely. Typically, an Honors thesis includes some close reading of a text or texts, as well as engagement with published criticism. The thesis is the single most important component of the program. Your desire to write a thesis during your senior year should be the major factor in your decision to apply for admission.

Honors students fulfill the standard 10 course requirements of all English majors and in addition take two special Honors course: the Senior Honors Thesis (4.0 credits for one semester) and a yearlong Senior Honors Colloquium taken during the senior year (2.0 credits each semester). The Senior Seminar (numbered from ENGL-UA 950 to ENGL-UA 975) is taken usually in the Junior year (4.0 credits) and is a pre-requisite for entering the Honors program. The Senior Seminars are small classes (limited to 12) whose primary focus is on deep textual immersion, research (sometimes in local archives), and the application of critical methodologies.

The honors colloquium is the one experience common to all seniors in the program. It is a yearlong works-in-progress seminar in which students refine their work and participate in a larger scholarly conversation about research and criticism. Faculty guests may present their own research; guest speakers from archives and rare-books libraries may give presentations about special collections; the Bobst Library Subject Librarian for English may give presentations on humanities research methods and tools.