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Departmental Honors Program

The English Honors Program provides the opportunity for our majors to work closely with an advisor and to develop an independent research project. This experience is especially valuable for students intending to pursue graduate or professional studies.


The English Honors Program was established in 1985 to operate in parallel with the UW Honors Program but additionally to offer opportunities for English Majors who were not part of the UWHP.  Since then over 130 students have completed the requirements for English Honors and gone on to a variety of careers and advanced degrees.  Theses for most of these students are kept on file in Hoyt Hall room 201 and may be inspected.  A chart of recipients, titles, advisors, and dates may be seen by linking to our records page.  Faculty Directors of the Program include Eric W. Nye (1985-89, 1992-93, 2002-04, 2008-11, 2011-12, 2014-15), Gail Reitenbach (1989-91), Madonne Miner (1991-92), Susan Frye (1993-94, 1998-2000), Jeanne Holland (1995-96), Susan Aronstein (1996-97), Keith Hull (1997-98), Clifford Marks (2000-2002), Caroline McCracken-Flesher (2005-08), Erin Forbes (2011), Peter Parolin (2012-14).

Click here for a list of honors students.


  1. The student must be an English major with a GPA of at least 3.50 in English courses.

  2. With assistance from the English Honors Program Director the student should select an advisor and another outside reader to serve on the committee.  If the Director is also the advisor, two outside readers need to be selected.

  3. The student may register for one to three hours of ENGL 4630 (to register, see link below) with his/her advisor to plan or complete the honors project.

  4. The senior honors project should persuasively present the student's original, critical work.  If the student prefers to attempt a work of belles-lettres, the result must be substantial, significant, and include a critical supplement.

  5. Students may develop a paper previously written for another course into their thesis.

  6. Students may "double dip," i.e. a student may submit the English Honors thesis to receive credit for a UW Honors Program senior thesis. Students are responsible for apprising each program director of their plan, however, and securing approval at the outset.

  7. Schedule: eligible students should be notified in the spring of their junior year or the fall of their senior year. At that time they should select an advisor and may register for ENGL 4630 Honors Thesis (to register, see link below) for the upcoming fall or spring, and develop a summer research plan. Fall of their senior year, students should develop their draft. In the spring of the senior year, students should have the first complete copy of their thesis to their advisor by a mutually-agreed upon date.  The advisor should return the thesis within a week with comments. This process may be repeated until the advisor is satisfied that the project is defensible. Students then should get a revised final copy of the thesis to ALL committee members  at least a week before the date of the proposed defense.

  8. Students should orally defend their theses toward the end of the semester, at a date and time to be determined in consultation with their committee.  The committee comprises the advisor, the outside reader, and the Director.  Prior to the defense the student should supply each member of the committee with a copy of the Committee Evaluation Form (see link below), listing all the student's coursework in English which may also provide material for discussion at the defense.

  9. The oral defense is about one hour long and will be followed by a brief discussion with the candidate and filing of the proper forms by the committee with the Director.  A final revised copy of the Honors thesis must also be submitted for the files.  All requirements should be completed before the last week of the semester.

For additional information, please contact Eric Nye,  Honors Program Director, at, or select from the following links:

Honors Thesis (English 4630) Registration Form

Committee Evaluation Form

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