History majors at the University of Connecticut with a minimum 3.4 overall GPA may apply through the Honors Program Office to become Honors Scholars in History. This track allows undergraduates with records of excellence to develop and pursue a more challenging program of study within the major. While the total number of credits and distribution requirements needed to graduate with a history major is the same for the Honors Scholar as for other students, the Honors Scholar works closely with faculty members to enrich existing courses, design programs of independent study, and, in the senior year, write a thesis focused on the student’s main area of historical interest. Graduating Honors Scholars are recognized each year at the university’s undergraduate commencement ceremonies in December and May. Students who are interested in the Honors Program or who have questions about the requirements are encouraged to visit the Honors Program site for more information.
Graduating as an Honors Scholar in History entails taking a minimum of four upper-level courses in history for honors credit, or 12 total credits of honors work in the major. This requirement may be fulfilled in a variety of ways:
- Students may enroll in specially designated honors sections of upper-level courses. At least one “honors designated” History course, which is not a thesis course, is required.
- Student may enroll in “honors-enriched” courses in which some seats are reserved for honors students who also work with the professor as a mini-honors section.
- With the instructor’s consent, students may convert any non-honors upper-level history course into an honors course through an “honors conversion agreement” approved by the student, the course instructor, and the History Honors Advisor. The approved conversion agreement outlines the nature and schedule of the additional work the student will do to earn honors credit for the class. These assignments may include supplementary readings, attendance of scholarly lectures, additional individual discussions with the instructor, class presentations, webpage design, or other projects entailing historical research, writing, or oral reports.
- With the instructor’s permission, Honors Scholars in History may take graduate courses in history as part of their honors course of study.
- Students who spend a semester or year in a study-abroad program may convert courses they take during that period into honors courses with the consent of the course instructor and the approval of the History Honors Advisor.
- In their senior year or its equivalent, Honors Scholars devote two semesters to the research and writing of an undergraduate thesis in history.
Writing an honors thesis enables Honors Scholars to work closely with a professor on an individualized advanced research project over two semesters. The History Department does not allow students to write a thesis in one term.
In the first semester, students should enroll either in History 4999 (Independent Study, for three credits), or in History 4994W (the Senior Seminar) if a section relevant to their topic is offered. Most students enroll in 4999 to ensure that they can pursue the individualized and focused study the thesis project requires. Regardless of whether the student selects History 4999 or History 4994W, the course must be converted for honors credit if it is to count towards the honors thesis.
In the second semester, all students writing theses should enroll in History 4997W (Senior Thesis in History) in the section assigned to their honors thesis supervisor. This course automatically counts toward honors credits in the major. Together, History 4999 (or 4994W) in the first semester, and History 4997W in the second semester, will count for six of the 12 minimum credits of honors work in history.
Honors Thesis Options
Traditional research paper: Most honors scholars in history will write a 20-40 page essay, demonstrating substantial primary source research, awareness of relevant historiography, and original thinking. The honors thesis should aspire to graduate standards of conceptualization, research, interpretation, and writing.
Alternative capstone projects: With advance approval by the Honors Advisor, students may pursue alternatives to the traditional research paper with the professor supervising his or her thesis. Such projects might take the form of an advanced design for a website, museum display, or other public history project. Alternative projects must demonstrate the student’s proficiency in the fundamental skills of the discipline, e.g., research in primary sources, interpretation, writing, and where appropriate, the use of other media in which original ideas about the past might be communicated to an audience. To meet the “W” requirements for the thesis course (4997W), these projects should include the equivalent of 15 pages of revised written text.