History Department Honors Program
Selecting the Honors Track
We encourage students with the requisite qualifications to begin thinking about the honors program as early as their fourth or fifth semesters. This will enable them to plan their upper division coursework and develop their concentrations through their 400-level seminars. Ideally, one’s concentration will relate to the choice of thesis topic, and it is imperative that some 400-level seminar work is completed prior to enrolling in HIST 492, the honors seminar.
The History Honors Program (eleven courses, 44 units)
HIST major plus HIST 492, “Honors Thesis” (4 units)
Candidates for the honors program are expected to:
- maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 in all USC history coursework (a USC honors requirement)
- earn a grade of B+ or better in HIST 300
- have completed at least one 400-level seminar in their area of concentration
- be supported by faculty from whom they have taken coursework
Application forms will become available in the Spring semester; they can be obtained in the History Office, SOS 153. After completing the form, return it to Ms. La Verne Hughes, the undergraduate secretary, who is also in SOS 153. The forms, which are DUE BY FRIDAY, APRIL 12, will be forwarded to Professor Lerner, who will supervise the selection process and track students in the program from the point that they express interest through completion. In addition, each student will have a faculty member as thesis director.
An honors student should begin developing his/her thesis project in an approved 400-level seminar taken with a faculty member who has agreed to direct the work. It is incumbent on both the faculty member and student to establish a track that will not only fulfill the requirements of the seminar and lay all of the necessary methodological and historiographical groundwork for the thesis, but also to allow the student to produce a first draft of a significant piece of the thesis. If an appropriate 400-level seminar is not available, the student may arrange to take a HIST 490 (“Directed Research”) honors tutorial with his/her thesis director to meet these ends.
During the fall semester of the senior year, the student will complete HIST 492, Honors Thesis seminar, with the Honors Advisor and other honors students. This seminar will be devoted entirely to the last stages of research, the writing, and to the discussion/critique of each part of the student’s thesis as the work evolves. HIST 492 meets one afternoon a week for three hours.
The completion of an honors thesis is the core focus and requirement of this program.
We envisage a thesis that may focus on original sources or an extensive analysis of a methodological problem or a historiographical development. Thesis directors and the HIST 492 instructor will keep honors students on a tight schedule of producing partial and full drafts. The final draft must be ready by the end of fall classes in order to allow time for consideration by readers — the student’s director, the HIST 492 instructor, and an outside reader from the History Department or an area institution. For a list of completed honors theses, please go here.