For History Majors interested in taking their scholarship to a higher level, the Van Hunnick 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.

To see a list of honors theses from 2002 onwards see this attachment.

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)
  • have completed at least one 400-level seminar
  • 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 Coursework

The History Honors Program (eleven courses, 44 units), is comprised of:

The History Major (40 units)


HIST 492, “Honors Thesis” (8 units). The completion of an honors thesis is the core focus and requirement of this program.


Honors Thesis

Ideally, an honors student should begin developing his/her thesis project in an approved 400-level 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. It is not necessary to take a 400-level course before taking HIST 492, but it will make the process easier and set you up for summer research better.

Students may apply for research fellowships for the summer between their junior and senior years. This will give them time to visit archives either domestic or international to support their project. Again, this is not necessary, but often results in a better final product and is a memorable experience.

The Honors thesis is a two semester endeavor. During both semesters of their senior year, the student will complete HIST 492, Honors Thesis seminar, with the Honors Advisor and other honors students. The first semester the seminar will be devoted entirely constructing their project, doing additional research, the writing the first chapter. The second semester will be devoted to completing the second two chapters and to revising the whole project. HIST 492 meets one afternoon per week for three hours.

We envisage a thesis will focus on original sources or sometimes 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 will be evaluated by readers — the student’s advisor, the HIST 492 instructor, and an outside reader from the Van Hunnick History Department or an area institution.


Admission to the Honors Program

Application forms will become available in the Spring semester around the time of Fall registration; it can be obtained by clicking the link below. The latest a form will be considered is the first week of April. They 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.

To apply you will need to fill out the google form below, have an advisor email Prof. O’Neill stating that they agree to advise you, and attach a copy of your STARS Report and a 1-2 page proposal of your project that details the historical topic and problem you will be studying and the primary sources you will use to research with that topic. If you struggle with the google form feel free to email you application to Prof. O’Neill (

Link to application form

For further assistance: Contact Professor Lindsay O’Neill (

Forms Available for Download