William and Mary


What requirements are there for admissions to honors?

The college-wide requirement is that you have either a cumulative 3.0 GPA by the end of your junior year or a 3.0 for the junior year alone. For LCST honors, you also need to have a faculty member who is willing to serve as your advisor, and the approval of the LCST Advisory Committee.

When should I start thinking about honors?

It's a really bad idea to try to write a thesis from scratch during your senior year, so you should be thinking about it well in advance - it is especially important to have a work schedule over the summer months, that you agree upon with your advisor. This year, the LCST Advisory Committee will be meeting next in early April, which would be an ideal time to submit an honors project for approval.

What materials would I need to submit to be approved for honors?

The key requirement here is a detailed proposal outlining your proposed thesis and listing the major research materials you will be using. The faculty member who would be supervising the thesis must sign off on this before it is considered by the committee. Once you have been approved by the department, you also need to complete the "Application for Admission to Honors Study," a form which is available online from the Charles Center website and must be signed by the supervising faculty member and the LCST Director.

By the end of the junior year, you will be certified as eligible for honors study, and notified in writing. Only at that point will the Charles Center create a course number so you can register for honors supervision (LCST 495-496, to be taken in the 2 semesters of the senior year).

How much work needs to be completed by the end of the first semester of honors work?

This will clearly vary from project to project, but you should aim to have at least a third of the thesis drafted by that point, to leave time for revisions during the final semester. This is why we strongly recommend that you spend the summer--or even earlier, perhaps as an independent study during your junior year--doing the bulk of your reading, and think of the fall semester as devoted mainly to working out your response to that material in writing. (This breakdown would, of course, vary in the case of a December graduation). You should agree to a set of deadlines with your thesis supervisor, and stick with them. In some cases, when you fail to make sufficient, a proposed honors thesis will turn into an independent study; in cases of satisfactory progress, you'll get a G grade for the first semester's work, and only assigned a grade on completion of the honors project.

How long should the thesis be?

The scope and length of theses vary, but a good page range is the one used by the English department, of between 35 and 60 pages. Quantity, though, is far less important than quality: a thesis must demonstrate that you are aware of existing scholarship on the topic, but it also needs to go beyond merely summarizing the work of others, and come to independent conclusions.

When is the final version due?

Roughly two weeks before the end of classes - so this semester the deadline for getting the completed thesis to readers is Friday April 17th. That leaves a two-week window for scheduling the thesis defense, at which you will be told if you passed and at what level (Honors, High Honors or Highest Honors).

Who serves on the thesis committee as readers?

Besides your thesis advisor, the committee consists of 3 other faculty members, including one whose home department is considered "outside" the main field of study (so you couldn't have all 4 from English, say). The thesis advisor will constitute this committee, usually with input from you - and s/he won't serve as chair of the committee, even though s/he participates fully in the decision to award honors at whatever level is decided upon.

What happens next?

After you've submitted the completed thesis to your committee members, you are only allowed to make minor changes and corrections - in some cases even after the defense. An unbound copy, with the signatures of the committee members, is deposited in Swem Library for posterity. At that point, you also need to fill out an "Honors Thesis Submission Form."

Suggested Timetable, Assuming May Graduation

Junior Year: Spring. Think about a topic for the honors project--one that's manageable within the scope of a thesis, and that's sufficiently interesting for you to work on for a year. Talk to LCST/Film faculty about supervising the project. Begin generating a bibliography of sources.

April. Submit proposal for approval to LCST Advisory Committee. Agree with your advisor on a work schedule for Summer.

Summer. Complete work you've agreed on with your advisor. If you're mainly reading, take notes or write up an annotated bibliography, noting the main argument of the source, your response to it and how you might use it.

Fall. Set a schedule of regular meetings with your advisor, and stick to it. Agree to a set of deadlines and targets--with the understanding that the project can turn into an independent study if you don't meet them. Complete all your reading, and have a comprehensive collection of notes/a fully annotated bibliography of sources. Aim to have at least a third of the project drafted by the end of semester.

Spring. Aim to have the entire thesis drafted by the end of February, to leave time to work on revision and presentation (e.g. introduction, conclusion, transitions). Discuss the makeup of your honors committee with your advisor.

April. Submit completed thesis to committee and set up defense date; defend, and turn in corrected copy to Swem Library.