Skip to main content

Secondary navigation:

Honors Program

history department

What is it?

The Honors Program is open to all majors and centers around an original piece of research and writing undertaken with the guidance of a thesis advisor.  The program has a 6-credit workload, involves a seminar, one-on-one consultations with a faculty member, and a ~50 page thesis. 

Eligible seniors have the opportunity to write a 12-credit thesis (counting as four upper-division electives) as a Scholar of the College.  The Scholar of the College program follows the same timeline, but the thesis requirements are more extensive and the thesis itself generally longer.

Top of Page


Who should consider doing an honors thesis?

If you are hoping to go to graduate school in the humanities, you should seriously consider writing a thesis because it will give you a sense of the kind of work that will be expected at that level.

But you need not have graduate school in mind to write a thesis.  If you want to bring all of your undergraduate training to bear on a single, challenging project the honors program is for you.  The thesis experience, picking a topic, researching it and producing an original piece of writing will challenge you in ways you have not yet been challenged.  It is also incredibly rewarding.  Working with other seniors and one-on-one with award winning faculty is a once in a lifetime experience.  Such an accomplishment is the culmination of a liberal arts education and will set you up for a lifetime of achievement.

Top of Page


What is the timeline?

Junior Year

Fall / Spring
Think about a topic and consult with faculty who share your research interests about writing a thesis with him or her.
23 March Submit application for Honors Program to your thesis advisor
  • Work with advisor to write up a proposal for your project.
  • Your advisor will assess your proposal in a letter to the committee, which will be submitted by 1 April.
  • Committee will read applications to evaluate their viability.
Mid - Late May   E-mail Notification of results
  • If admitted to the program, you will draw up a research plan with your advisor for the summer.
31 May Research Plan due to thesis advisor
June – August Conduct Research according to plan
August Enroll in Honors Thesis Seminar 3-credit course (HIST 4961) Scholar of the College students enroll in 6-credit Advanced Independent Research (HIST-4961 and HIST-4921)
  • You will be contacted by Colleen O’Reilly in August and instructed how to enroll in the appropriate course.

Senior Year

Fall Honors Thesis Seminar
  • submit course assignments
  • work on chapter while continuing to research
9 December Chapter due
Fall - Spring You should have regular consultations with your advisor
Spring Enroll in 3-credit Honors Thesis (HIST 4962) and continue to work on thesis with advisor. Scholar of the College students enroll in 6-credit Advanced Independent Research (HIST-4922)
20 April Final Draft of entire thesis due to advisor.
  • You will submit a hard copy as well as an electronic copy of your thesis to your advisor, who will forward it to the Honors Committee.

Top of Page


What does the thesis look like at the end of the process?

The thesis itself should be about 50 pages long and generally includes multiple chapters. It should be bound in a clear plastic binder that will both hold the pages securely and permit the title page to be read without opening it.  Plastic binders are available at most stationary stores.  You can also get it bound more formally at the campus printer.  See here for more details.

Top of Page


What can I do with a thesis?

The thesis alone is an impressive accomplishment but you can also take advantage of further publishing opportunities.


  • eScholarship repository (accessible to the BC community only)
  • Agora - Journal for Undergraduate Scholarly Papers.
  • Al-Noor - The Boston College Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Journal.
  • Elements - The Undergraduate Research Journal of Boston College.
  • Other Undergraduate Journals

Top of Page


What kind of support is there for thesis writers?


  1. O’Neill research guides
        a. General
        b. History


  1. Writing and Citing guide
  2. Tips for history writing
  3. External guides  


  • Honors Seminar
    o    You will live and breath thesis writing in the fall of your senior year—but you will do it alongside 10-12 other seniors who can offer encouragement and commiseration.
    o    The thesis writers have a class party at the end of the fall semester and also a joint party with the other the class of thesis writers in the spring.
  • POLIS - Honors Program Student group
    o    You are not the only major with a thesis opportunity.
    o    For more information on events that bring seniors together from across the humanities, see POLIS.   
  • Honors House
    o    You could even live among other thesis writers in the Honors House.
    o    For more information, see Honors House website  
  •  Create your own
    o    Create a facebook writer’s group
    o    Create a hashtag for thesis writers.

Top of Page