Honors Program in History
For History Majors interested in taking their scholarship to a higher level, the History Department offers an Honors Program in History that allows admitted students the opportunity to undertake a substantive original history research project in their senior year with the guidance of History faculty and to write an undergraduate Honors Thesis.
The requirements of the program are as follows:
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 201 (formerly 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
A Note on Selecting the Honors Track
Students with the requisite qualifications should begin thinking about the honors program as early as their fourth or fifth semesters. Ideally, an Honors student’s Area of Concentration will relate to their thesis topic. It is also imperative that Honors students undertake some 400-level seminar work in History prior to enrolling in HIST 492, the honors seminar. Planning ahead will enable students to lay out their upper division coursework and Area of Concentration to support their final seminars and Honors Thesis.
The History Honors Program (eleven courses, 44 units), is comprised of:
The History Major (40 units)
HIST 492, “Honors Thesis” (4 units). The completion of an honors thesis is the core focus and requirement of this program.
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 support the work as thesis director. 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 per week for three hours.
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.
Admission to the Honors Program
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. Simone Bessant, the undergraduate secretary, who is also in SOS 153. The forms, which are DUE BY APRIL 15, will be forwarded to the instructor of HIST 492, who will supervise the selection process and track students in the program from the point that they express interest through completion.
For further assistance: Contact Professor Paul Lerner (213) 740-0889