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Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Undergraduate students learn the tools and techniques of interdisciplinary research by 

  • participating in the Williamsburg Documentary Project,
  • working one-on-one with professors to develop and complete an Independent Study Project, or
  • completing an Honors Project.
Independent Study

If an American Studies major would like to fulfill requirement G for the major by completing an Independent Study, it must first be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) and the faculty member with whom the student wishes to work.

Here is what the student must do to initiate the process:

  1. Decide on a topic and compose a bibliography: these sources may include books, articles, on-line resources, etc. Preliminary conversations during office hours with faculty and the DUS may be of help at this point in the process.
  2. Write a brief description (approximately 500 words) of your proposal and take it and your bibliography to the faculty member with whom you would like to work. Present this packet to the faculty member and discuss his/her willingness to work with you and the feasibility of your project for a one-semester course. If the faculty member agrees to work with you, you must ask her/him to sign-off on the project. Then you must present it to the DUS and Curriculum Committee for approval. This process MUST be completed before the end of classes in the semester that precedes the one in which you will do the Independent Study.
  3. By the first day of classes during the semester in which you will complete the Independent Study, you will contact the faculty advisor to arrange an initial meeting to decide on a schedule for further meetings and deadlines.
  4. Requirements are flexible, but are expected to be equivalent to a 3 credit seminar, meaning roughly 25 pages of writing or its equivalent. Specific expectations should be agreed upon between the student and faculty member before the independent study begins. The faculty member will assign your grade.
  5. You may work with any member of the faculty on your project. This does not include graduate students or instructors and adjunct faculty.
  6. The faculty member will be in touch with the DUS for problems and progress with the work.
Honors Projects

All of the rules above apply but also include the following:

  1. The student's GPA must meet the standard established by W&M. The Charles Center administers the Honors Program and all students are bound by its schedule and deadlines. Please see the Undergraduate Catalog for more details regarding eligibility requirements for departmental honors. 
  2. The project should follow this timeline:
    • The project proposal (same as Independent Study) should be turned in to the prospective director and DUS by April 1 in the spring of the junior year and MUST be turned in no later than the last day of classes.
    • Students must additionally apply through the  Charles Center for departmental honors. Charles Center applications are due by noon on the first day of class in the semester they will begin work on your Honors project.
    • Different advisors have differing specific schedules, but a good rough guide is: The student should plan to have at least a full outline and a draft introduction by the end of classes in the fall semester and a full rough draft (or equivalent if the project is not an essay) by February 14. For students planning to graduate in fall, this calendar should be moved back a semester.
    • The student will submit their final project near the end of the spring semester of their senior year. At that time they will meet with their advisor and two other faculty members who have read their work in a formal "defense." A final grade, and the determination of whether the student should receive honors, high honors, or highest honors, will be based on both written material and oral performance.
    • Students graduating in the fall should push this timeline back by a semester. 
  3. The student's defense committee must include at least one faculty member who is on the American Studies Program's Executive Committee. The student is responsible for notifying the DUS of the committee's members and scheduling the date of the defense.
  4. All honors projects must include a bibliography.