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Department of English

Honors in the Major

Learn more about Honors in the Major, which allows for independent research or special study in your senior year.

Under “Curriculum and Curricular Requirements” the Rollins College Catalogue describes Honors in the Major Field: 

Honors in the Major Field provides for independent research or special study during the senior year under the supervision of a three-member committee in the student’s major. To be eligible for Honors in the Major Field, students must:
  • achieve a minimum overall GPA of 'C+' (2.33) for all courses at Rollins,
  • achieve a minimum overall GPA of 'B+' (3.33) for all courses taken in the major at Rollins, and
  • receive endorsement of the committee for participation in the program.
Satisfactory performance on an approved thesis or individual project, an oral examination, and maintenance of the above averages qualifies a student for Honors in the Major Field, which is shown on the student’s official academic transcript.

I. Committee

Your committee must consist of at least three members, including your honors project sponsor and two additional readers. Your sponsor and at least one reader must be tenured or tenure-track members of the English Department. One reader may be a visiting professor or lecturer in the department. Projects with an interdisciplinary focus may include a tenured or tenure-track faculty member outside the department.  If you opt to write a creative thesis, please note that a member of the English writing faculty must be on your committee, and you must have satisfactorily completed either a 300 or 400 level writing workshop or have permission.

II. Course Registration

Candidates for honors in the major will typically enroll in two semesters of research independent study, ENG 498 and ENG 499 for at least four hours per semester. Students must complete the second semester of honors research in their senior year. Students will be assigned a grade for each semester (see expectations described below). 

III. The First Semester

The first semester of work should be spent defining the scope of the project, reviewing literature, and developing your research methodology or creative aesthetic. This process will take place under the direction of your project sponsor, but your committee will review your progress at the end of the semester. Be sure to establish a clearly understood set of expectations with all members of your committee.

By the end of the first semester, students developing a research thesis must submit to their sponsor a 10-15 page prospectus and an annotated bibliography (of approximately 20 sources). A typical prospectus would likely include
  • a description of your argument and its conceptual stakes
  • a review of the critical literature on your topic and your intervention in this conversation
  • a description of critical methodology (including definitions of major terms, the scope of the project, and major critical or theoretical schools your work is in conversation with) 
  • a breakdown of chapters
Students who fail to submit these materials to their sponsor will not continue with the project in the second semester. During the first semester, we also encourage students to make written progress toward their chapters, including outlines and drafts. Additional assignments should be discussed with the faculty sponsor.

By the end of the first semester, students working toward a creative project must submit
  • a reading list of literature that is similar to or related to your project
  • a detailed description of the project, chapter by chapter, including your reasons for pursuing it and its possible relationship to works in your list of literature
  • 1/3 of the actual project in draft form
Students who fail to submit these materials to their sponsor will not continue with the project in the second semester. Additional assignments and changes in direction based on the project’s evolution should be discussed with the faculty sponsor.

IV. The Second Semester

By the end of the second semester, students working on a research thesis should produce approximately 65-75 pages, including an introduction and likely broken into chapters. Students completing a creative project in fiction or creative non-fiction should submit a minimum of 75 pages in polished form.  Poetry projects should be 20-40 pages.  While the pages listed above are guidelines, your committee should agree upon specific expectations for the length of your project.

V. Project Submission and Oral Examination

Both research and creative projects require an oral examination.  Students should schedule their oral examination, or “defense,” with the committee no later than finals week or, for Holt students, the last week of classes. You should submit your completed final project to your committee two weeks before the scheduled date of your defense.

Defense meetings will typically last one hour and will include a brief presentation by the candidate, a question and answer period, private discussion among the committee during which the candidate will be asked to leave the room, and a final discussion on the committee’s decision once the candidate returns. The award of “Honors in the Major Field” requires satisfactory completion of the oral examination.

In addition to copies for the committee, students should submit a bound copy of the thesis to the Department of English for our archive.

Sample Proposals

Students may wish to review the following successful proposals as a guideline for creating your honors thesis proposal. 

English 498/499: The Language of War Novels

English 498/499: F. Scott Fitzgerald's Last Love