Honors in English

Honors in English recognizes excellent performance in English courses and the completion of an outstanding two-semester project.

The Thesis

  • Length: 60-80 pages. Poetry theses may be shorter. In exceptional cases, other creative theses may be longer than 80 pages, but the Department expects all theses to be substantial, finished, and well-fomed projects that readers can complete in one or two sittings.

  • Critical Theses are original works of scholarship based on research in both primary and secondary texts. They meet high standards of style, organization, and argumentation, and comport with professional standards of citation.  

  • Creative Writing Theses demonstrate skill in technique and are sustained and coherent imaginative acts. They may be in any of the major genres.

    Past theses can be viewed through Wescholar by clicking HERE.


All Theses: Minimum GPA of 91.7 average in courses counting toward the English major (in at least six courses by the end of the junior year.)

Critical Theses:
Research Experience: Completion of a substantial research paper, at least 6,000 words long, in a departmental course designated "research" or "research option", with a grade of B+ or better in the course. The research paper must advance a coherant argument, demonstrate appropriate mastery of college-level English, draw on both primary and secondary sources, and comport with professional standards of citation.

Creative Theses:
Workshop Experience: Grades of A- or higher in two creative writing courses that count towards the major, one of which must be an Intermediate or Advanced Workshop taken at Wesleyan. *If one of these courses was taken pass/fail, the instructor's written evaluation should be submitted to the Honors Coordinator, who will determine whether work of A- or higher was completed.

Senior Essay Project: Students who wish to pursue independent projects but who are not eligible for Honors may wish to consider pursuing a one- or two-semester Senior Essay project.


Schedule and Process

Junior Year

  • Define a viable thesis project and secure a Tutor.
  • By the final day of classes, second semester of the junior year, submit an Application Form to the Honors Coordinator (HC).
  • The Department cannot guarantee that all students eligible for candidacy in Honors will find a tutor or that all thesis projects will be viable. If you cannot find a tutor, consult with the HC. 
  • Consult with the Tutor and/or other faculty members and prepare a plan for reading, research, or other projects over the summer. 
  • Begin work on your project as soon as possible, ideally during the summer before the senior year.

Senior Year

  • By 5:00 PM on the first day of classes in the fall, submit to the HC:
    • An Enrollment Form
    • A copy of your Academic History
    • An Application Form only if you did not submit one in the spring of your junior year or if your project has changed substantially since then.
  • Enrollment in Senior Honors Tutorial (ENGL409): During drop/add submit and enrollment request for ENGL409 through your e-portfolio.
  • Work energetically and consistently on your thesis project and meet regularly with your Tutor. Weekly meetings are advisable.
  • Before the last day of classes of fall term, submit to the HC a sample of your work in progress, usually a substantial draft of approximately 20 pages.
  • Continued eligibility: In consultation with Tutors, the HC will determine whether you are on track for successful and timely completion of your project. If so you will remain a candidate for Honors. If not, you will receive course credit and a grade for your first semester's work from your Tutor, but will not be permitted to go on to complete your thesis in the spring. 
  • During the spring semester, keep working diligently. Keep in mind that theses must be completed by the Registrar-determined submission date, typically the second week in April.

December Completion

  • Theses are due the last day of classes in the fall semester. Before that date, theses must be submitted to 1.) the Tutor and 2.) the HC.
  • Theses may be submitted either in hard copy or electronically by email. Students are responsible for confirming delivery of the thesis with the HC.
  • In April, students must also register their written theses electronically via the Honors Management System. That process is handled separately by the Registrar's office.
  • In order to be considered for Honors, students must submit their theses both to the Department in December and to the University in April.

The Departmental Evaluation

  • Upon completion, Honors Theses will be read by two Readers appointed by the HC. Ordinarily, the Readers will be members of the English department.
  • Your Tutor will not serve as a reader of the completed theses, but will assign a letter grade for the thesis tutorial.
  • The Readers independently rank the thesis as deserving of High Honors, Honors, or Credit with no honors.
  • The Readers will convey their decisions, and written evaluations, to the HC. Should their recommendations differ, the HC will appoint a third Reader, who will render a judgement but not submit a written evaluation.
  • At the end of the evauation process, the HC will make the written evaluations available to the candidate.
  • Please keep in mind that the standards for Honors are high and that writing a thesis does not guarantee that you will receive Honors in English. You may complete a thesis that Readers judge worthy of Credit, but not Honors or High Honors. Please note that the judgements made by the English Department's Readers are independent of the views of your thesis Tutor.

Celebration and Reading

  • At the end of the spring semester of each Academic year, the English Department will host a celebration and reading to recognize the efforts and achievements of candidates for Honors.
  • After the conclusion of the evaluation process, the HC will invite all candidates for Honors to present a sample of their work to an audience of friends, colleagues, family and faculty members. Please consider attending and taking part.


Junior Year: Application Form

Senior Year: Enrollment Form