Honors Program

The MELC Department Honors Program offers students opportunities to research an issue about which they hold great interest. Students learn how to design and carry out independent research projects under the mentorship of department faculty. Students write and revise an extensive thesis that reports their discoveries. By completing the program, students gain valuable experiences that help them prepare for the next stage of their careers. Students often share the outcome of their research at academic conferences and in undergraduate research journals. Many students submit their thesis as writing samples in their graduate and professional school applications.  


A student must be a declared major in the MELC Department with at least a 3.3 overall GPA and a 3.51 GPA in major courses. A student must maintain the required GPA in order to remain eligible for the honors program. A student completes two pass/no pass courses, MELC 199 and MELC H195, described below. The thesis must be submitted no later than the 14th week of instruction during the semester in which a student is enrolled in MELC H195 and receive a passing grade.

Developing a Research Project & Faculty Committee

A student often discovers a research question or topic in their classes that they wish to investigate. A thesis project can either build on research from a previous course or can be a newly conceived project. Once a basic question is developed, a student will seek out a mentor among the MELC faculty as early as possible to formulate a feasible research program and discuss available resources. Students should consider the funding opportunities that may be available to them to support their research.

A student will form a committee consisting of two MELC faculty members, one of whom serves as the committee's chair, and who agrees to meet regularly with the student over two semesters. Only in exceptional circumstances are faculty from outside the MELC Department allowed to serve on a honors committee, and never as chair. These committee members will grade the thesis after it is submitted. 

Required Courses

Prior to the start of a student's final two semesters, they will apply to the honors program using this application. Once approved, the student first enrolls in MELC 199 by submitting this form. In MELC 199, the student conducts independent research under the supervision of their faculty committee. Once MELC 199 is successfully completed, students proceed to MELC H195 in the following semester where they write, revise, and submit their thesis. Students should submit this enrollment form for MELC H195. All forms should be submitted to the Undergraduate Major Advisor before the stated deadlines.

Submitting & Assessing the Thesis

A standard thesis advances a unique argument that is substantiated by evidence and shows awareness of scholarly debates about the topic. The thesis is at least 20 double-spaced pages in length not inclusive of bibliography, figures, tables, and appendices. The thesis is submitted no later than the 14th week of instruction in which a student is enrolled in MELC H195. 

The thesis is then assessed by the student's committee and must receive at least a B+ grade to receive a distinction of an honors degree. A successful thesis will receive a distinction of either “honors,” (B+/A-) "high honors," (A) or "highest honors” (A+). The committee chair communicates the level of honors to the undergraduate major advisor. Students also receive recognition for this distinction during the MELC graduation ceremony held each May. 


For more information about the Honors Program, please contact the undergraduate major advisor.