William & Mary sign

Latest about COVID-19 and W&M's Path Forward.

Info for... William & Mary
William & Mary W&M menu close William & Mary


The Honors Program provides a special opportunity through independent study for the intellectual stimulation and development of superior students. Students are encouraged to explore possible topics in the junior year. The best way to do this is to discuss potential areas of interest or specific topics with individual faculty members. We strongly recommend that the student and supervising faculty member agree on a topic before the student leaves for the summer.

Should You Do an Honors Project?

There are many good reasons to do Honors, and any eligible student who is interested would benefit from the experience of undertaking a major individual research project. It is especially recommended for students considering graduate school. Honors is more than simply a long paper: it is a yearlong commitment requiring that students make time and work well on their own, as they have no classmates, no study groups, no midterms, etc. So the best reason to do a thesis and the key prerequisite to a successful one is deep interest in the topic chosen.

Eligibility Requirements

Students with a 3.0 overall GPA (or a 3.3. junior year) and a 3.3 in Public Policy by the end of their junior year are eligible to consider Honors. It is also essential to have completed the second methods course, either by the end of junior year or at the very latest, fall semester of the senior year. Note: Under certain circumstances, students planning to graduate in December of their final year may do a thesis by starting the previous January.


Honors projects are judged by an examining committee of not less than three faculty members, including the student's thesis adviser, one other member of the Public Policy faculty, and one faculty member from another department. The designation Honors indicates excellent work and fully-meet expectations. Honors projects that do not merit the designation Honors but which represent substantial work on the part of the student will be awarded credit for independent study.

Preparation for Honors Work

In some years, the Economics Department offers a one-credit course entitled Junior Research Seminar (Economics 491). If you are a junior trying to decide whether or not to pursue honors, or if you would like to pursue an independent research project, please consider enrolling in this class.

Frequently Asked Questions

An Honors project is a major work done over the course of both semesters of the senior year. All specific and vital materials about admission, timetable, specifications, registration, credit, etc. can be found on the Charles Center website.