Becoming an Honors Candidate

If you wish to be considered for Departmental Honors in Music, you must complete an Honors Project and take both MUSC 409 and 410 (Honors Thesis Tutorial) unless you are a double major (see below).  You must notify the Honors College of your intentions by making an enrolment request for the Senior Thesis Tutorial by the end of the drop/add period.  In registering for MUSC 409 and 410, you will include a written description of your project (including the details of the written component). The details of this form must be approved by your Honors Tutor who may or may not be your major advisor.

To register for MUSC 409 and 410, you must persuade a tutor of the viability of your project and that you are prepared to work at the highest level.  A faculty member who remains unconvinced of your ability to complete all aspects of the project is under no obligation to serve as your tutor.  If you cannot secure a tutor, you may not become an Honors Candidate.

If you are a double major preparing a joint thesis for Music and another department you may register for the tutorial in the other department for one or both semesters. You should notify the Honors Coordinator if you are seeking Honors in both departments and you must have a tutor from the Music Department.

Your Honors Tutor must be Music faculty member or a full time visiting faculty in Music. Private Lessons Instructors may serve as important resources in preparing the project, and they may serve as one of the three readers (see Evaluation below).

Honors only will be awarded to students who have demonstrated compliance with Stage I and Stage II University General Education Expectations.

If you are completing your Wesleyan residency at the end of the Fall semester, you may do the work on your Honors Project (and take the appropriate tutorials) during your last Spring and Fall semesters (in that order).  In this case you should: 

  1. announce your intention to the Music Department and the Honors College at the beginning of your last spring semester
  2. complete all work on your project by the end of the Fall semester (including the concert if your project includes a concert)
  3. check with the Music Department to be sure that readers are appointed at the end of the Fall semester to evaluate your project
  4. be prepared to return to the campus in the Spring following completion of your residency; you may be invited to undergo an oral examination as a candidate for High Honors

The Honors Project 
   To be considered for Honors, your project must take one of the following forms:
  1. a substantial written thesis (75 or more pages)

  2. a concert and a written document (25 or more pages)

  3. compositions(s) and a written document (25 or more pages

  4. compositions(s), a concert, and a written document (25 or more pages)

   In the cases of 2, 3, and 4 above, the written document should address one or more of the following:
  • a statement of aesthetic purpose
  • an analysis of the composed and/or performed music
  • an explanation of the interpretation of the performed music
  • a critical investigation of the historical and/or cultural context of the composed and/or performed works
  • a research paper or critical investigation, not directly related to the concert or compositions

Note that a journal of your experiences while preparing a concert and/or composition is not acceptable, nor can the essay simply be “expanded program notes” for the concert.  If you choose to give a concert as part of your Honors Project, you may certainly provide program notes, but these will not satisfy the requirements of the written document.  (See the criteria given under “Evaluation” below.)


Honors Thesis Student Symposium

There may be occasional meetings in which students present their progress.


A preliminary draft of the written component of the Honors Project must be completed by February 15th of the Spring semester.  FAILURE TO MEET THIS DEADLINE MAY RESULT IN A STUDENT BEING DISCONTINUED AS AN HONORS CANDIDATE.  Tutors have the right to terminate work with a student who is not making satisfactory progress towards the completion of their project.  A student’s need to meet University graduation requirements will not be considered in deciding whether to continue or discontinue a project.

The written component of the Honors Project must be submitted by early April.  Three printed copies are required for distribution to the thesis readers.  If your project includes a concert, then your performance should be presented in the time period reserved for that purpose.  At a meeting of Music Majors at the beginning of the Fall semester all Senior Music Majors receive information concerning the scheduling of these concerts.  It is the student’s responsibility to precisely follow the procedures and to meet the deadlines for the scheduling of Honors Recitals.


     Three readers will evaluate all components of your Honors Project:  
  1. your Honors Project Tutor 
  2. a professor, Artist-in-Residence, or Private Lessons Instructor chosen by you and your tutor
  3. one member of the Music Department Honors Committee

In evaluating your work, the readers will take into account the following:  the originality of the project, programming, or interpretation; preparedness; ability; comprehension; sensitivity and humility; taste.  In the case of concerts, the readers will not consider such factors as the size or enthusiasm of your audience, your publicity or promotional efforts, financial expense, social amenities, and whether or not the concert is performed by memory.

The thesis or written document should demonstrate the Honors Candidate’s ability to think creatively, organize thoughts, and communicate effectively.  The written material will be judged on content, organization, clarity, and the mechanics of style (grammar, syntax, word usage, spelling, etc.) and documentation (notes and bibliography).  It is the expectation of the Music Department that the writing will demonstrate a command of the conceptual issues addressed in the student's program of study.  Because the written component of the Honors project becomes part of Wesleyan’s archives, the Honors Committee takes matters of presentation quite seriously; significant typographical problems in the written document may by grounds for denying Departmental Honors.

The Honors Committee will award honors on the basis of the readers’ evaluations.  All departmental readers must recommend honors for a candidate to be successful.  Students are entitled to copies of the readers’ comments.  The Honors Tutor—not the Honors Committee—is responsible for assigning a grade for the courses MUSC 409 and MUSC 410; this grade need not reflect the decision of the Committee to award or deny Departmental Honors.

High Honors

The Honors Committee may invite some students to compete for High Honors by taking an oral examination.  In deciding whom to invite, the Committee will take into consideration the readers’ evaluations, the students performance in courses as reflected in his or her transcript, compliance with the General Education Expectations, and the extent to which the student’s educational experience reflects the philosophy, goals and diversity of the department.

The purpose of the examinations is to explore the candidate's breadth in music. Questions will relate both to the student's thesis and overall education. There may be a listening component to this exam.  The student will be expected to discuss music in general and specific terms.