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Majors in the American Studies Department who have a cumulative grade point average of 3.3 or higher and who wish to pursue a special program of independent research resulting in an Honors Thesis may undertake Honors work in American Studies.  The Honors Thesis, once approved by the candidate’s Honors Committee, qualifies the student to graduate “with honors” or “with highest honors.”

You may download the American Studies Honors Thesis Application for the 2019-2020 academic year here.

Procedures for Honors Enrollment

Spring, Junior Year:

  1. Meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, during the second semester of the junior year to discuss details of eligibility and program requirements.
  2. At this same time—as early as possible during the second semester of the junior year—identify a Thesis Advisor with the advice and assistance of the Director of Undergraduate Studies and request the faculty member’s consent to serve as advisor.  The thesis advisor must be a permanent or adjunct faculty member in the American Studies Department. The applicant must have the same Thesis Advisor throughout both
    semesters of the entire project.  Faculty Thesis Advisors may supervise no more than 2 honors thesis candidates per year. The student seeking Departmental Honors must secure an advisor’s participation the semester prior to starting the Honors Program.
  3. Submit the American Studies Honors Thesis Application to the Director of Undergraduate Studies by April 15. This application requires a preliminary description of your project, a plan for summer research, and the signature of your advisor.
  4. Register for the AMST 691H seminar course for the fall of the senior year and the AMST 692H seminar course in the spring of the senior year.  December graduates will reverse the order of the semesters, signing up first for AMST 691H in their last spring semester, and then AMST 692H in their last fall semester.  Students taking AMST 691H and 692H will receive a letter grade for both semesters.
  5. Once registered for AMST 691H, confer with the Thesis Advisor and choose two additional committee members, one of who may be outside the department (or even at another university).  Submit a list of the committee members to the Director of Undergraduate Studies is provided a list of the committee members.  Students should confirm their committee members by the beginning of fall term of the senior year.

Honors Carolina offers Senior Thesis Research Grants for students completing the Honors Thesis. Applications are available during the Spring and Fall semesters and must be submitted to the Honors Committee Chair and to the Director of Undergraduate Study for review at least one week before the grant deadline of March 1 or Sept. 30. Faculty recommendations are also required at this time. A student may only receive one Senior Thesis Research Grant. Other possible sources for research funding include the Summer Undergraduate Research Funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research, and the Francis Ferris Hall Grant for Undergraduate Research from the Center for the Study of the American South.

Summer, Junior Year:

  1. The summer between the Junior and Senior Year is an important time for developing a thesis proposal, organizing a bibliography, reading in the field of study, and completing fieldwork and research.

Fall, Senior Year:

Some students may have compelling reasons for beginning honors work in the fall of their senior year, and they should see the Director of Undergraduate Studies as soon as possible in the fall semester. The preferred time line and advisory procedures are outlined above.

  1. During the Fall semester, the student will schedule weekly meetings with the Honors Advisor, and will attend the Honors Thesis Seminar (691H) during a standard class meeting period once per week.
  2. In consultation with the Honors Advisor, and with guidance from the instructor for 691H, the student will prepare a preliminary thesis proposal by the mid-semester (2-4 pages, with an attached bibliography), defining as specifically as possible the project to be undertaken.  Copies of this document go to all members of the student’s committee.  The committee will evaluate the topic and the proposal, keeping in mind
    such things as method, bibliography, and structure proposed for the final paper. Taking any criticism into account, the student will prepare a final draft of the proposal for submission to the committee.  The
    approved version of the proposal, signed by all members of the committee, will be filed with the Thesis Advisor before Fall Break.
  3. By the end of the first semester of honors work, AMST 691H, the honors candidate should 1) finalize a bibliography, 2) complete general reading in a chosen field of research, 3) create an outline of thesis chapters,
  4. Complete the bulk of the specialized research on this project, 5) submit one polished chapter and one draft chapter to the Thesis Advisor and the instructor for 691H. The honors candidate who has successfully
    completed AMST 691H will temporarily receive the grade “SP” (Satisfactory Progress), and will enroll in AMST 692H. If the candidate’s progress does not warrant continuing the thesis, AMST 691H will revert
    to a Directed Readings course in the American Studies Department (AMST 396).

Spring, Senior Year:

  1. In AMST 692H, the honors candidate will write and defend orally an interpretative essay of a length appropriate to the scope of the project.  (A typical length of a honors thesis is forty to fifty pages, but  project could be longer if, for example, it includes transcripts of interviews or lengthy quotations from unpublished letters.)  Alternative final projects for honors work that demonstrate best practices in research, analysis,
    and production, may also be proposed, such as photographic essays, film, exhibits, websites.  Please review the “Honors Thesis hand-out” from the UNC Writing Center for great tips on organizing and writing a major research paper.
  2. For the deadlines for the thesis and oral defense, please consult the document titled “Undergraduate Honors Program Senior Thesis, Deadlines and Due Dates” for the current academic year. Honors candidates will submit a complete draft of the thesis to the Honors Advisor  no later than early March of the Spring Semester.  After receiving comments from the advisor and revising as necessary, the student will submit
    the final draft of the paper to the Honors Committee members not later than two weeks before the scheduled oral examination on the project.  Honors students must complete the thesis and defense prior to the deadline for the receipt of the official May Degree with Honors Report to the Honors Office. This date is usually in the first or second week of April. The honors candidate should schedule the date and location of
    the thesis defense as many weeks in advance as possible.
  3. Style and format should follow those recommended in one of the standard style manuals: the MLA style sheet or the University of Chicago Manual of Style.
  4. At the close of the oral defense, the Thesis Advisor will send the results to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who will convey to the Undergraduate Honors Office the appropriate recommendation (Honors or Highest Honors). The appropriate letter grade for AMST 691H and 692H will be assigned to the student by the Honors Advisor, and the committee will assign the degree of honors. A signed title page of the
    Honors Thesis will be sent to the Director of Undergraduate Studies by the Thesis Advisor following the oral defense.
  5. Occasionally a student will elect to withdraw from the Honors program.  There are also instances in which the student’s essay falls below the specified standards for the thesis, and “no honors” is voted by the committee.  In these cases AMST 691H and/or 692H will count as ordinary Directed Readings courses (AMST 396).
  6. Following the oral defense and the completion of any changes required by the committee, the candidate must submit the thesis electronically via the Carolina Digital Repository (CDR).
    1. Submissions are due by the last day of class in the semester in which students complete their theses, and must include a scanned title page signed by the three members of the student’s Honors Committee. See “Sample Honors Title Page” down-loadable document at the “Senior Honors Thesis Guidelines for Academic Units, Faculty Advisors, and Students.”
  7. The University Library will catalog electronic theses. After the student’s graduation date, Honors Carolina will clear the thesis for online publication and the thesis will be publicly accessible via the Carolina Digital Repository website. Students who would like to request a one- or two-year delayed release of their work via the CDR must submit a written request to before the last day of class in the semester of submission.
  8. The honors candidate will be officially recognized at the American Studies Graduation Brunch held prior to the Graduation Ceremony. Students who have been awarded Honors or Highest Honors distinctions will also receive cords to wear with their commencement gowns.