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Honors Theses

Honors Theses

Purpose

The Honors Thesis in Women’s and Gender Studies seeks to encourage independent feminist thought and research among outstanding undergraduate majors in WGST.

Eligibility

Women’s and Gender Studies majors who wish to write an honors thesis must have a GPA of at least 3.5 and the endorsement of a faculty advisor who is willing to direct the honors thesis. Whenever possible, the student should choose as an honors advisor a faculty member with whom the student has taken at least one class. Students must secure the advisor’s consent and, ideally, the consent of at least one committee member, and declare their intention to write an honors thesis in the spring semester of their junior year. Honors thesis proposals must be approved by the Chair of the WGST Department no later than the last day of classes of the student’s junior year.

In consultation with the thesis advisor, the student will carefully define, pursue, and complete a substantive research project. Completed theses typically have three to four sections and range from 50 to 100 pages, including bibliography and endnotes. The student is expected to work in close consultation with the advisor throughout the process of conceptualizing, researching, and writing the honors thesis during the student’s senior year.

 

Examples

In recent years, students have written about a wide variety of subjects, including 

Program

Students will complete a total of 9 credit hours of coursework as part of their thesis. In the fall semester of the senior year, the student will enroll in WGST 695H (3 credits) and WGST691H (3 credits). Their thesis director will be the instructor of record for 691H. In the Spring, students will enroll in WGST 692H (3 credits), again with the thesis director as the instructor of record. Honors thesis students enrolled in WGST 695H are expected to engage with the materials and assignments in the course and to produce a draft section of the honors thesis. While enrolled in WGST 695H, the student will meet with the faculty advisor once a week. During the spring semester, consultation will occur as needed.

At the close of each semester, the faculty advisor will award a grade for three credit hours of work completed according to the following schedule:

Summer before Senior Year:

We strongly encourage students to conduct research during the summer and be ready to begin writing at the start of the Fall semester. Students are encouraged to use the summer to compile an annotated bibliography and to establish (and revise as necessary) their research question(s).

Fall Semester:

In the first few weeks of the semester, the student, in consultation with the thesis advisor, will develop a detailed workplan to be submitted to the Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies for approval. The Department suggests that by the conclusion of the Fall semester the student has undertaken a significant amount of writing roughly equivalent to one-half or two-thirds of the thesis.

The student should establish a regular meeting schedule with their honors advisor. Students and advisors may choose to meet, for example, bi-monthly or monthly, depending on needs and interests.

The student will also attend two workshops with other WGST honors students (see below).

Spring Semester:

The student will continue writing according to the established timetable and attend two workshops with other WGST honors students.

The Department recommends that students have a complete draft of their thesis no later than March.

The thesis must be presented and defended no later than the end of April.

Workshops

Students writing honors theses in WGST will also complete several workshops with one another. The Chair of the WGST Department or another faculty member will help students establish a workshop schedule. Workshops will be student-run. A faculty member will be present at the outset of each workshop and available to answer any questions.

*In years when there is only 1 student completing an honors thesis the Department will invite students in related units to join the workshops.

We suggest the following:
September: meet with other writers to go over research question, topic, and ideas. November: Students applying to graduate school should exchange a copy of their writing sample prior to the meeting and receive feedback during the meeting. Students not applying to grad school should exchange ~10 pages of a draft.
February: Students exchange a selection of writing (~10 pages) and receive feedback during the meeting.
March: Presentation Rehearsal: Students practice their final presentation with the group.

Mechanics

The student should follow rules of style and format described in the MLA Style handbook or the University of Chicago Manual of Style, according to their faculty advisor’s recommendation.

Thesis Defense

Successful completion of the honors work does not automatically confer honors in WGST. Once the student has submitted the honors thesis to the faculty advisor, a committee composed of the advisor and two additional faculty members will review the thesis and conduct an oral defense of about one hour in length. After having determined whether the thesis justifies the award of honors, the committee will recommend to the Chair of the Department of WGST whether the student should be awarded a degree “with honors” or, in rare cases, “with highest honors.” The award “with highest honors” indicates superior achievement in all aspects of the student’s honors work.

Following the oral examination, the student will make any changes deemed necessary by the committee members and submit one unbound copy of the finished thesis prepared according to the “Guidelines for the Submission of Honors Essays” (please refer to the Honors Program’s website) to the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

An additional bound copy should be given to the Women’s and Gender Studies Department library.

Funding

The Honors Program offers financial awards to support honors thesis research. Funding is also available through the Office of Undergraduate Research.

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