Senior Honors Policy

An Honors project is a two-semester, six-credit research project on a single topic in musicology, music theory, or original composition. You may choose any topic for your Honors project, but you must find an advisor to supervise your work, and the department must approve your plan. In order to apply for the Honors program, your grade point average must be at least 3.0 by the end of your junior year. The Charles Center administers the Honors program, detailed guidelines are available on their site.

Honors Thesis Proposals

To begin the process of applying for Honors, start asking professors to serve as your thesis advisor no later than the beginning of the second semester of your junior year. Honors students will work closely with their faculty advisor during both the research and writing process.Try to select a professor who shares your research interests. You will work closely with your thesis advisor to identify a suitable subject and to prepare a cogent, clearly-argued proposal. You will conduct significant preliminary research before you write the proposal.

A well-prepared honors thesis proposal in the area of musicology or music theory will consist of a clear statement of the thesis (including the main arguments to be explored), a brief summary of previous scholarship related to the thesis, and a selective bibliography.

For an honors thesis that involves the creation of an original composition, the proposal should include the parameters of the piece (duration, text where applicable, and performing forces) and a short explanation of how the student conceives of the work's realization.

To get an idea of the kinds of projects that previous students have undertaken, check out the Charles Center's archive of Music Honors theses.


The following deadlines must be met if the proposal is to be accepted for submission to the Department of Music and to the Charles Center. Late submissions will not be accepted.

First Monday in April: Final version of the honors proposal should be submitted to your thesis advisor for review and approval. Your advisor may choose to

  1. Accept the proposal,
  2. Require that the proposal be revised and resubmitted to them no later than the second Monday in April, or
  3. Reject the proposal, in which case it must be withdrawn.

Second Wednesday in April: If your thesis advisor accepts your proposal (or your revised proposal), they will forward it to the Academic Faculty of the Department of Music. The proposal will be discussed at a meeting before the end of the academic year.

Your advisor may bring the proposal to the music faculty at a regular meeting of the music department for advice and commentary before the submission deadline.

Submitting Your Proposal

Submit the strongest possible proposal to the Department of Music. Faculty will review a given proposal only once. If your proposal is approved, you may submit the proposal to the Charles Center before their deadline. If you are not approved, your must must withdraw the proposal from consideration. Faculty approves only proposals of significant merit with a strong promise of a positive outcome.


You are responsible for keeping track of the Charles Center deadlines and to adhere to them.

If you plan to participate in a semester abroad program in the second semester of your junior year, start working with an advisor early in the first semester of your junior year.