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The Honors Program

The Honors Program provides qualified students the opportunity to complete a two-semester, six-credit research project under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Each Honors project culminates in a thesis and oral defense. Completing an Honors project can be one of the most academically rewarding experiences of your undergraduate career.

Application for admission to Honors, details about requirements, deadlines and guidelines for the Honors Program are at the Charles Center. There is funding available to support your Honors project research.


In order to qualify for the Honors Program, you must have an overall GPA of 3.0, or a 3.0 GPA for your junior year. A 3.3 GPA for your French and Francophone Studies courses is also required.

Your Honors Thesis in French & Francophone Studies

The work for an honors thesis should equal that of two 3-credit classes in French and Francophone Studies at the 300/400 level.

You may write your thesis in English or in French and should discuss this choice with your thesis advisor. The thesis itself will be a paper of about 50-75 double-spaced pages, but quality rather than quantity is the important criterion.

Your thesis should exhibit your knowledge of the topic, and demonstrate good scholarly and critical judgment. We are not looking for a regurgitation of the conclusions of others. We want to see that you have grasped and explored the subject well enough to have independent conclusions about it.

The research for an honors thesis should start in the summer preceding the senior year. We recommend that you return to campus in August with a paper which could be part of a chapter and or/ with a bibliography. This proves that you have developed a good idea of what you want to do. With a paper in hand, the writing process is de-dramatized. To de-dramatize the writing process even more, think of a thesis as a series of long papers. Each chapter could function as a paper with a well-constructed argument.

Oral examination (Thesis Defense)

You will have a committee of three professors to read and question your work. This examining committee should consist of three people: two from French & Francophone Studies and one outside the program.

The committee will read your thesis and judge the quality of your defense of it. If the thesis is not of high enough quality to rate Honors, the committee may call off the defense.

Possible questions for the defense:

  • How did you come up with the topic?
  • How did you conduct your research?
  • What could change if you could work further on the topic?
  • What makes this thesis a work in literature/cultural studies/linguistics/history?
  • How did you select the works with which you worked?
  • The committee may test your familiarity with contemporary discussions on the topic.

Successful Honors projects receive one of three awards:

  • Honors: The thesis demonstrates a clear, well structured argument. It shows an awareness of relevant scholarship, good written expression, and independence of thought.
  • High Honors: The thesis shows depth of scholarship and independent work. You have the ability to follow through an argument. Your clarity of presentation surpasses that expected for Honors.
  • Highest Honors: The thesis is original and exceptional.

If the examination committee awards the honors or above, you will get an A for FREN 495 and FREN 496.

If the examination committee determines that your thesis is unsuccessful, you could still get an A for FREN 495 or FREN 496 if you met all the requirements and deadlines for the project.