The Department of History encourages highly qualified history majors with junior standing to consider pursuing history honors, which entails preparation of a research thesis under the guidance of a faculty director, during two of the student’s last four terms at Gordon. The minimum requirement for application to the honors program is a cumulative GPA of 3.65 in the major and 3.00 overall as of the first term of the student’s junior year. Also required are academic excellence and good writing skills, as demonstrated in the student’s course work. If a student’s research proposal receives departmental approval, the candidate then enrolls in HIS 471 and 472 (Research I and II), develops a substantial thesis paper, and defends the thesis orally to history faculty and fellow students.
Preparing a Thesis Proposal
Interested students should discuss their thesis topic ideas with a potential proposal sponsor—normally the faculty member whose teaching specialty is closest to the student’s field of historical interest, and who would ultimately become the thesis director. It will be at this faculty member’s discretion (in consultation with other History Department members) as to whether the student’s academic record and topic ideas merit proceeding to the stage of preparing a proposal.
Having given this approval, the sponsor assists the student in the preparation of a proposal to be submitted to the department chair and evaluated by the department as a whole, leading to a decision as to whether the student should enter the program and proceed to the preparation of the thesis itself.
Only those topics can be done that pertain to some faculty member’s general field of specialty. If a student’s intended topic falls within the specialty of more than one faculty member, the student has the option of consulting more than one potential sponsor.
Finally, it should be noted that the History Department is interested in the quality of its honors projects more than the quantity. Please be aware that, as a practical matter, the history faculty are able to work with only a limited number of honors students each year: each department member is restricted to directing two theses at the most in a given academic year. If a student wants to do a thesis and the appropriate faculty member is unable because of prior commitments, the student will need to find a topic within the field of expertise of some other available faculty member.
Template for Thesis Proposal
1. Formal Abstract (about one page, double spaced).
2. Initial "research plan," including guiding research questions and strategy for finding sources, worked out with a faculty member or library reference staff (about one page).
3. "Bibliography starter," describing prospective research (about one page).
Deadlines for submitting a proposal to the department chair
Fall: First Tuesday after fall recess/quad break (for those wishing to begin their thesis research in the spring term of that year).
Spring: First Tuesday after spring recess.
Samples of Thesis Topics
(Note that a copy of each completed honors thesis is placed in a book binding and housed permanently in Jenks Library.)
Public Presentation of Thesis
This 15-minute oral presentation will be part of an advertised event, conducted before History Department faculty and fellow students. The presenter sums up his/her thesis by describing its topic, research methods, and main conclusions, and then “defends” the work in response to questions from the audience. The presentation usually takes place at the end of the semester in which the student completes the thesis.
Thesis Format Specifications:
Although certain details can be worked out between the student and the Thesis Director, the following are standards of thesis format are common to all: