Philosophy Honors

Candidacy for honors in philosophy requires satisfaction of the following requirements:

  1. The College requires that a candidate for departmental honors satisfy the following conditions:
    1. Overall grad-point average of at least 2.8
    2. Departmental grade-point average of at least 3.6
    3. A sum of grade-point averages which equals at least 6.8
  2. The philosophy department requires an honors thesis and a successful oral defense
    1. Thesis
      1. The philosophy department offers majors the option of undertaking a thesis for honors in philosophy. This thesis is part of the candidacy for earning honors in philosophy and does not automatically entail honors. Honors are earned as a result of both exceptional effort and exceptional results in philosophy. The purpose of the honors thesis is to provide students with the opportunity to hone their philosophical skills and understanding through a focused research project resulting in a thesis of the highest quality. The honor's thesis is not a requirement for the major, but is an option available for students who are committed to work beyond requirements.
      2. Thesis work occurs during the course of the senior year, but should ideally be initiated toward the end of the junior year. The work for the thesis is substantial philosophical research issuing in a written paper (20-25 pages).
      3. Procedure
        1. Topic and advisor selection (week 1 of Fall 12-week, senior year)
        2. Reading list/project outline (week 4/5 of Fall12-week)
        3. Formal topic proposal (week 12 of Fall 12-week)
        4. Draft of paper to advisor (week 4 of Spring 12-week)
        5. Complete draft to advisor for approval (Friday after spring break)
        6. Submission of final draft (Friday, week 12 of Spring 12-week)
        7. Oral exam (during Spring 3-week)
        8. Revisions and formal submission (1 week after oral exam)
      4. Expectations
        1. The honors thesis is generally taken as a 1 credit independent study in the fall of the senior year (481) and for 2 credits in the spring (480). We expect the student to devote the equivalent of 3 credits of work toward this project. The student need not take 3 credits worth of courses, however. Meeting all of the relevant deadlines is crucial. Time for the announcement of the oral exam, for revisions of the final version, and adequate time for the department to read the student's work is necessary.
        2. Final versions of the paper must be submitted on time for honors to be awarded. These final deadlines are not simply departmental, but reflect administrative schedules.
    2. As soon as a student knows that he or she wants to attempt departmental honors the student should consult the department about possible topic and ultimately ask one of us to advise the project. At latest this should be done at the very beginning of the fall semester.
    3. The next step is to compile a reading list of relevant sources and determine which ones are necessary for completing the project. This should be done in consultation with your advisor.
    4. The topic of the project must be formally proposed and approved by the department. The proposal should take the form of a four to five page paper describing a focused topic and thesis, indicating the significance of the topic, the relevant positions that are taken on the topic (in the history of philosophy or in contemporary secondary literature), and include an annotated bibliography of the relevant important sources.
    5. A complete draft of the paper must be submitted to the advisor for approval. Students should submit drafts throughout the writing process in order to avoid any significant problems.
    6. The paper is revised twice before final submission, once prior to departmental submission, and once after the oral exam.
    7. The final draft must conform to relevant stylistic conventions. Hard copies must be turned in.
    8. The oral exam is held on campus-wide "Honors Celebration Day" and lasts 45 minutes to an hour. It involves a 15-20 minute presentation of the paper with the remaining time for questions from faculty and peers.
    9. The final paper must be submitted as both a hard copy and electronic.
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Required Courses

  • Elementary Logic
  • Ancient Philosophy
  • Early Modern Philosophy
  • Two other History of Philosophy courses
  • Two 400-level courses
  • Two electives