Qualified students who are interested in an Honors major should consult an Honors Philosophy advisor as early as possible. Except in cases where special permission is granted, students must have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.4 and a 3.5 average in completed courses in philosophy in order to be eligible for admission. Honors majors are required to complete 28 (rather than 25) credits in the major, including Philosophy 401 (the Undergraduate Honors Seminar), which is taken in the fall semester of the senior year, and 499 (Senior Honors Independent Study), which is taken in the winter semester of the senior year.
In 401 the honors candidates refine their theses topics, identify the texts relevant to these topics, read these texts, and begin drafting their theses. As they develop their ideas, they present them to each other for feedback. In 499, which is taken in the following semester, students work with a thesis supervisor to develop their ideas into a thesis of appropriate length (usually 50-60 pages, double-spaced). At the end of this process, they defend their theses at an oral exam, conducted by a committee of two professors, one of whom supervised the thesis. The award of the honors degree requires successful defense of the thesis and the level of honors (honors, high honors, highest honors) is determined on the basis of thesis and defense.
Students who are thinking about writing an honors thesis should consult with an advisor in their junior year. They may also want to take a look at past honors theses, which are located in the Tanner Philosophy Library, 1171 Angell Hall.