If a student maintains an upper division GPA of 3.5 or higher and completes their thesis to their advisor’s satisfactionby the end of their final semester, s/he will graduate with high honors (magna cum laude).
If a student maintains an upper division GPA of 3.5 or higher and their advisor feels the thesis is outstanding, the advisor will nominate the work for consideration for highest honors’ (suma cum laude). Four bound copies of nominated theses are due two-to-three weeks before the last day of classes so the Undergraduate Committee has sufficient time to conduct its deliberations. The Undergraduate Coordinator will inform the student and the supervisor by the last day of classes whether the thesis has been awarded high honors or highest honors.
There are three general areas that the Undergraduate Committee considers when evaluating theses for highest honors:
Argument: What is the central argument of the thesis under consideration? Is it clearly articulated? How original is the argument? Is it derivative, merely recapitulating the arguments of other scholars, or, is it opening new ground or at least approaching the historical problem from a new perspective or angle and thus making a distinctive contribution to the field? How well does the student understand the historiography of his/her topic, and how effectively does he/she position the thesis in that general field?
Evidence: What is the source base from which the student is working? To what extent is the argument of the thesis based on the student’s analysis of primary sources? What type of secondary sources does the student draw from? How comprehensive is the body of secondary material on which the thesis is based, and is it effectively deployed to support the paper’s main argument?
Writing: Honors theses that are awarded highest honors must be well written. Awkward prose, sloppy editing, muddied arguments and a disorganized structure undercut a thesis’s effectiveness.
For High Honors (theses completed to the satisfaction of your advisor but not being nominated for Highest Honors):
For Highest Honors (theses being nominated by your advisor to the Undergraduate Committee for consideration):
Note: after the Undergraduate Committee has completed its evaluation of the theses, you will be able to reclaim two copies of your thesis.