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Indiana University Bloomington

The English Honors Program

The English Honors Program allows students to explore the skills and independence needed to craft and complete advanced scholarly work or creative writing. It culminates with the production of a formal written project that is 30-50 pages long and a defense before two English Department faculty members.


During the first few years as an English major, a potential Honors student should try to form a clear picture of his or her research interests and select courses that will help to establish (1) a strong base in a chosen area of interest and (2) a working relationship with a suitable faculty advisor. Also, to be considered for the Honors program and ultimately earn an Honors notation, a student must maintain an overall 3.3 grade point average, with a 3.5 average in English courses.

By March 1 of the Junior year, the student should have found an advisor who agrees to sponsor his or her project. In coordination with the advisor, the student should begin to compile his or her application materials to include the application form (PDF, DOC), a transcript, a statement of intent (1-2 pages), a writing sample (5-6 pages), and a summer reading list (1-2 pages).

An English major who has demonstrated exceptional ability in at least one of the creative writing workshops at the 300- or 400-level may apply to the program as a creative writer. This application will also require a faculty advisor and a similar set of application materials, although the writing sample requirement is slightly different (4-6 poems or 10-15 pages of prose). In general, the thesis and schedule to complete will be subject to the same conditions set forth below.

For both critical and creative writing projects, the application is due on April 1, and once it is approved by the Honors Committee, the student should enroll in the Fall semester of L499 and begin work on the summer reading list.


Apart from the general coursework undertaken by the English major, the Honors program formally occupies three semesters and consists of four parts:

  1. Spring of Junior Year: Application Due
  2. Summer before Senior Year: Exploratory Reading
  3. Fall of Senior Year: Research Semester (L499)
  4. Spring of Senior Year: Writing Semester (L499)

During the Senior year, each Honors student takes two semesters of L499 (for 2 credits each). Student and advisor must work together to design a meeting schedule that is suitable to both. Typically, student and advisor meet every week or two to develop a research program and ultimately complete the thesis. Throughout this year, the student will also meet regularly with the Honors program director and the other Honors students to discuss research agendas, methodologies, and progress.

By the middle of the Fall semester, the candidate must complete a brief thesis prospectus. It should consist of a detailed statement of the aims of the thesis (2-3 pages) and be accompanied by a bibliography of completed and projected reading (1-2 pages).Copies of the prospectus are given to members the Honors Committee, who must approve the project before the student enrolls in a second semester of L499. A student who has nothing to show for the thesis by October registration must wait for authorization to add L499 at the start of the spring semester. If by then progress remains unsatisfactory, the student will be dropped from the honors program. In that case, credit for the L499 in which the student was enrolled will be given on completion of a certain amount of written work to be determined by the director of the thesis or the director of honors.

One week after spring break, the student is expected to hand in a completed draft of the thesis to his or her advisor. Then, by the second week of April, having responded to the advisorís final set of comments, the student must submit a final copy of the thesis to the advisor, the Honors program director, and a reader. Students may, in consultation with their advisors, choose his or her reader from amongst the tenure-track faculty members of the English Department; otherwise, a reader will be assigned from the current members of the Honors Committee.

In the last week of April, during a one-hour exam, the student must defend the thesis before his or her advisor and the reader. The advisor and reader determine whether the candidate should graduate with Honors in English and report their decision to the Honors program director. This decision has no effect on the grade for Senior Independent Study, which is assigned solely by the thesis advisor. NOTE: The candidate must maintain a minimum College GPA of 3.300 to be graduated with honors.