Skip to main content
more options

Undergraduate Honors

HONORS GUIDELINES

 

These guidelines amplify the description of the Asian Studies Honors Program given in Courses of Study.

1. Eligibility

To be eligible for honors, a student must have a 3.0 cumulative average and 3.7 average in all Asian Studies area courses. Note that language courses are not included in the Asian Studies average.

2. Application

Students who wish to be considered for honors should fill out an application (available in the Asian Studies main office, 350 Rockefeller) and apply to the director of undergraduate studies with a five-to-eight page proposal outlining the project. The proposal should include your general question, your specific materials, your research design, a bibliography, and a schedule for your work (conceived in weeks and months, not days!) It is strongly recommended that proposals be made by the end of the junior year, but proposals will be accepted through the third week of the fall semester of the senior year. (Students abroad in Asia during their junior year should make every effort to consult with their advisors and apply for honors while abroad.) Applications must be endorsed by the student's honors thesis supervisor.

Note that initial acceptance into the honors program does not ensure permission to continue in it. Students must demonstrate to the satisfaction of their supervisor that they are making progress on their project by the end of their first semester in order to advance to the second.

3. Honors Committee

The honors committee consists of a supervisor and one or two other members. In Asian Studies, the supervisor frequently, but not always, is the student's major advisor. If the advisor is not the thesis supervisor, he or she is normally a member of the committee. Only professorial faculty and senior lecturers are eligible to supervise projects (and senior lecturers take on such work above and beyond their paid work, so be properly grateful).

4. Timetables and Deadlines (for seniors graduating in December, all deadlines are adjusted by a semester).

Late Spring of Junior Year:

  • Secure the commitment of your thesis supervisor and submit your proposal.
  • Pre-enroll in ASIAN 4401 or (an)other appropriate course(s) chosen in consultation with the DUS and your thesis supervisor.
  • In exceptional cases, students studying in Asia during the first semester of Senior Year are allowed to pursue honors. In such cases, the honors proposal and thesis committee must be approved by the DUS before the end of junior spring semester.
  • Identify other possible members of your honors committee; ideally you should secure the commitment of at least one more member at this time.

Summer of Junior Year:

  • Over the summer, begin to gather research materials, and identify and approach contacts.
  • If possible, begin actual research on the project.

September of Senior Year:

  • Be sure you are enrolled in ASIAN 4401 or (an)other appropriate course(s) chosen in consultation with the DUS and your thesis supervisor.
  • Complete your honors committee, in consultation with your thesis supervisor.
  • Submit the completed honors committee form to the Department of Asian Studies.
  • Be sure to discuss your proposal with the new committee member(s) at this time.
  • With your thesis supervisor, arrange the schedule on which sections of the thesis research and writing will be completed.
  • Make an agreement with your thesis supervisor about how much of the draft thesis must be completed by the end of the semester in order to continue in honors. This is usually a thesis chapter and/or an extended outline of the honors essay.

November of Senior Year:

  • Arrange a meeting with your thesis supervisor to discuss research accomplished thus far, and begin discussing how to focus your thesis essay.
  • Submit to your thesis supervisor an abstract of your thesis argument. This is a one paragraph summary of your leading question(s) that explains why these questions are interesting and important.
  • Submit to your thesis supervisor a tentative outline of the thesis.
  • After discussing your thesis abstract and outline with your thesis supervisor and making any required adjustments, send these documents to the other member(s) of your thesis committee, offering to meet with them if they would like.

December of Senior Year:

  • Before the end of the examination period, submit to your thesis supervisor the written work required for this semester.
  • Based on this, your thesis supervisor will assign a grade for ASIAN 4401 if you are enrolled in that course.
  • Even if you are not enrolled in ASIAN 4401, continuation in honors requires that your thesis supervisor approves your progress thus far, in order to allow you to take ASIAN 4402 in the spring semester. Continuation in honors is not automatic.

January of Senior Year:

  • Enroll in ASIAN 4402. This is required.

February of Senior Year:

  • Meet with your thesis supervisor to discuss your writing progress. Discuss difficulties and ways to overcome them. Don't put off talking with your supervisor when you are stuck or discouraged. Report in, discuss the situation, and work out strategies for handling the difficulties together.

March of Senior Year:

  • Before Spring Break submit a strong, near-complete draft to your committee before the middle of March. Meeting this deadline is essential, to allow your committee time to read the thesis carefully and recommend revisions.
  • Your non-supervising committee member(s) may not wish to see this draft version. That is their prerogative. In that case, you will submit the draft only to your thesis supervisor and develop revisions based on his/her comments.

April of Senior Year:

  • Receive supervisor/committee comments on the thesis draft no later than early April.
  • Revise your draft thesis in response to these comments, meeting with your thesis supervisor and other committee members as needed.
  • Schedule the oral defense with your committee. Ideally the oral defense is held in early May. It may be held no later than the second day of the examination period.
  • Notify the Asian Studies Department of the date for which your oral defense is scheduled.
  • Submit the revised thesis, ready for the oral defense, by the last day of April.

May of Senior Year:

  • Attend your oral defense. On this occasion you will discuss thesis with your committee. You can talk about the broader implications of your work, what you wished you could have included but didn't, and the directions you might like to take in the future.
  • Your committee determines whether your project deserves honors, and, if so, will recommend you to the department for a Bachelor of Arts cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude.

5. Determination of levels of honors

Your committee determines whether your project deserves honors, and, if so, will recommend you to the department for a Bachelor of Arts cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude. The supervisor assigns a grade for the honors research course and submits both the grade and the committee's decision about the level of honors to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, along with a written justification for that decision. In the rare case that seems to diverge substantially from department norms, the DUS may seek to review the honors recommendation with the department's professorial faculty. In addition, the DUS may seek a review of the level of honors if the candidate's course work as a senior falls well below honors norms.

Since at least a 3.7 average in the major is required for application to honors, admission to candidacy already emphasizes grades. Thus the major determinant for level of honors is the quality of the project itself. Factors to be considered include the intrinsic interest and magnitude of the topic, the collection and treatment of evidence, lucidity of argumentation, and the coherence and persuasiveness of the work as a whole. If the committee agrees on the degree of honors the project should earn on its own merits, grades might not be consulted at all. If there is hesitation between one degree and another, the entire record can be consulted for breadth of courses, difficulty of curriculum, and grades. Thus, students should ensure that their project supervisor has an unofficial copy of their complete transcript available at the time of the defense.

Completing a project worthy of honors is an important contribution to your undergraduate education and a noble achievement. Earning high or highest honors (accomplished by only about 8% of graduates) should be, when it happens, unanticipated icing on the cake; it is not something to strive for per se.

Recent Honors Theses