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Honors in History Major

History HonorsIntroduction

Honors in the History Major gives students the opportunity to conduct independent research on a topic of their choosing and to write an original piece of scholarship based on that research. The product is a thesis, a 25-35 page paper on the study of a historical problem. Think of the thesis as part of becoming an historian. You will put to use all the tools that you have learned in your history classes, devise your own research questions, and explore them through primary source research and analytical writing.

Writing the thesis is a rewarding experience. Students come to Honors in the Major for various reasons: some are interested in exploring further a particular historical period or topic that they have learned about in a previous course; others consider it a worthwhile experience before applying to graduate school; still others would like to get a taste of being a historian regardless of their post-graduate plans. Whatever path has led you to the Honors program, by the end, you will have become an expert on your topic. And in your hands will be a concrete product of your learning as a History major.

Students in History Honors receive a high level of faculty and peer support. They are also given opportunities to present their work to other faculty members through the thesis defense and to the larger university community at an annual research festival.


By the fall of junior year, students must hold both a minimum 3.33 GPA in History courses and minimum 3.33 overall UI GPA.

Students must obtain permission from the History Department Honors Director to pursue Honors in the Major. Students should read the requirements and determine whether they meet the criteria. They should also familiarize themselves with the Timeline for Writing Thesis. If they meet the requirements or have any questions, they should schedule a meeting with the Honors Director to discuss their plan of study.

Students who pursue Honors in the Major must write a thesis. They must work with a designated faculty advisor and enroll in a two-course sequence. The first course (HIST:3995) should be taken in the spring of the junior year and the second (HIST:3996) in the fall of the senior year. These courses are only offered once per year. The six credit hours accrued from 3995/6 count toward the credit-hour requirements for the History major.

Students must defend the completed thesis before a 3-person faculty committee. Committee members will be decided upon near the completion of the thesis in November of the senior year.

The History Department selectively accommodates students whose academic course of study prevents them from enrolling in both HIST:3995 and 3996. In this scenario, you must have a History professor agree to guide you through the research, bibliographic, and/or writing process. Students will still need to enroll in one of the two-course sequence.

Honors in the Major versus University Honors

Please note that University Honors is a separate program to which students are admitted. Being enrolled in the University Honors program most likely qualifies you to pursue Honors in the Major, but it does not automatically mean that you will graduate with Honors in the Major.

If you are a University Honors student, completing Honors in the Major (the thesis) will satisfy your Experiential Learning Requirement.


Grades for HIST:3995 (Spring of junior year) are assigned by the instructor of that course. Grades for HIST:3996 (Fall of senior year) are assigned by the instructor and faculty advisor. It is the final grade for your thesis paper.

Faculty Advisor

In the middle of the spring semester (while enrolled in HIST:3995), you will need to find a faculty advisor. The faculty advisor is usually a member of the History Department, though students working on interdisciplinary projects may find that a co-advisor or primary advisor in another department is suitable. The advisor is an expert in your time period and/or geographic/thematic area of interest and will provide necessary direction to make your project successful.

You are responsible for finding an advisor. You may have already taken a class with a professor whose area of expertise aligns with your topic. If you do not have someone in mind, individual faculty websites give a good sense of what their research interests are. The instructor of HIST:3995 can help you in this selection process, too.