Juniors who have maintained a 3.5 GPA in the major may consider writing a senior honor’s thesis. These projects signify a serious engagement with independent scholarship; interested students should plan to devote a large proportion of their academic time to the project during their senior year.

Before the end of their junior year, honors candidates should contact their prospective thesis adviser and discuss the choice of an honors topic. The thesis proposal should be developed in the summer before the senior year and must be presented in written form to the department no later than Friday of the third week of classes in September. No proposal will be accepted after that date. Please note: Turning in a proposal does not guarantee that the student will be admitted to the honors program. The understanding is that the proposal needs to be in good enough shape (fulfilling the expectations detailed in the proposal guidelines)  for the adviser to circulate it to the rest of the department on the due date, and for the department faculty to agree that the project has strong potential for success. Upon admission to the honors program, the student must also identify at least one other faculty member from the History Department to form the project’s faculty committee along with the adviser/sponsor. Students may choose to seek out, for inclusion on the honors committee, an additional faculty member from another department whose area of research overlaps with the topic at hand.

Prospective honors students should be advised that faculty sponsors will expect to see that a meaningful amount of the research and writing for the project has been completed by the end of the fall semester in order for the project to continue. Students may also be asked to give an oral update to the department on the progress of their research at the end of January or the beginning of the spring term.

The finished thesis must abide by certain standards:

  • If the thesis has chapters, it must include a preface and a table of contents.
  • The thesis must have full and professional citations, either as footnotes or endnotes; for the proper format, see the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Most theses are 75-100 pages, double-spaced, in length, but the final length and scope of the project is up to the discretion of the faculty sponsor, in consultation with the honors student.
  • Complete guidelines for the thesis research proposal can be found here.
  • At the end of the spring term, the candidate will present his or her work to the adviser and the committee, which will then decide if the project warrants honors. It is also expected that the thesis student will present a portion of his/her project results at Colby’s annual Research Symposium in April.

Please note: Some funding is available for archival research from a fund donated by alumnus Jonathan Barry (’98). For details, please contact the department chair.

Revised: EL, September 2012