Research Honors in Philosophy
Purpose, Eligibility and Procedures
Research Honors provides you with the opportunity to pursue a project of original
research in philosophy. A Research Honors in philosophy is similar to an independent
study in philosophy, except that you are required complete and defend a polished thesis.
You are not required to produce a thesis on par with Kant's Critiques or other revolutionary
turns in philosophy, but you are required to produce a polished thesis in which you
present an idea or an approach that is distinctly your own.
You may seek Research Honors in Philosophy if and only if (i) you have an overall
cumulative average of at least 3.25 and an average of at least 3.50 in philosophy,
and (ii) you are a major in Philosophy or you have completed 6 course units in Philosophy.
Research Honors may be done only in your senior year. In addition, you should be a
self-motivated student who is self-disciplined and intellectually independent.
Outline of the Process: Officially, when you do a Research Honors, you are taking the philosophy department’s
course "403: Research Honors in Philosophy." You will receive a standard grade and
standard credit upon satisfactory completion of this "course." But through this "course"
you are attempting to earn "University Honors." This is a special distinction that
is granted (or not) by the university. In section D of this form the procedures whereby
one takes "403: Research Honors in Philosophy" as a means of earning "University Honors"
Begin early. You can do a Research Honors project only in your senior year. To obtain "University
Honors," you must declare your intent to seek University Honors to the Associate Provost
in the Spring of your junior year. (See "Documents for University Honors" below.)
Though we do not require it, we suggest that you do an Independent Study the semester
before you do an Honors Research. More specifically, we strongly suggest the following
plan: Do an Independent Study in the Spring of your junior year, and a Research Honors
in the Fall of your senior year. This plan has a number of benefits: First, if you
are applying to graduate school in philosophy, you will want to use a section of your
Research Honors thesis as a writing sample, and this sample must be completed by the
middle of your senior year. Second, this plan gives you plenty of time, your entire
senior year, to prepare for your thesis defense. (Many students continue to work on
their theses, even after they have completed "Philosophy 403: Research Honors in Philosophy.")
And third, you will be able to write a much more specific "project description" for
the Associate Provost after having completed an Independent study. The rest of this
form presupposes that you are following this plan. (If you, for some reason, do not
want to follow this plan, you must make special arrangements with the philosophy department.)
Select a Project Advisor. You should work with the same faculty member who served as your Independent Study
advisor. If you want to do a Research Honors, you should discuss this idea your Independent
Study advisor near the end of your Independent Study in the Spring of your junior
year. If your advisor gives you tentative approval for taking Research Honors the
next semester, you must then write a "project description."
Project Description, and Approval. After you have received tentative approval for Research Honors, you must write a
"project description." The project description should be no more than one page in
length, and should include the following: a summary statement of the area you want
to explore or the problem or issue you intend to work on; a reading list or bibliography;
and a tentative statement of what you will argue for in your thesis. Your written
project description must be approved and signed by your faculty advisor. You do not
have approval for a Research Honors unless and until a faculty member has signed your
Documents for University Honors. To be eligible for University Honors, you must declare in writing your intention
to seek University Honors to the Associate Provost, and you must do this in the Spring
of your junior year. To do this you need to obtain two documents pertaining to Research
Honors at the Associate Provost’s Office: Research Honors Program, Eligibility and Procedures, and the Research Honors Record. You must complete the Research Honors Record and return it to the office of the
Research Honors Record. Completing the Honors Research Record will require you specify three other faculty
members, one from outside of the philosophy department, to serve as your "Hearing
Committee." You must, of course, obtain the approval of these additional faculty members,
and they are to be selected in consultation with your advisor. The Honors Research
Record also requires that you write the "project description," discussed above, and
that it be submitted to the office of the Associate Provost with the completed Honors
Work Schedule. You and your advisor must agree to a work schedule. Your schedule will state when
you agree to hand in initial drafts of sections of your thesis, and when a completed
draft of your thesis is due. A passable rough draft of the whole paper must be available
for your advisor to read at least 4 weeks before your scheduled project hearing. Your
paper must be completed at least one week prior to your scheduled Hearing Committee
Meeting. It is your responsibility to adhere to this schedule. If you fail to adhere
to it, your advisor may elect to drop you from research honors.
Hearing Committee. In order to receive University Research Honors you must present for your Hearing
Committee an oral defense of your thesis. You need to arrange a time, date and place
for your hearing which is suitable for all the members of your Hearing Committee,
and you must provide copies of your paper to members of this committee at least one
week before your scheduled hearing. After your defense, your committee may ask you
to make some changes in your paper.
Grades, Honors and Credit. As you are taking "Philosophy 403: Research Honors in Philosophy," your advisor will
assign you a standard grade for this "course" and you will receive standard credit.
After the oral defense of your thesis, your Hearing Committee as a whole will determine
whether or not you have earned University Honors.
File Your Project. After you have defended your thesis for your Hearing Committee, and you have made
any and all changes required by your committee, you need to file one copy of your
completed thesis with the Associate Provost and another copy with the Philosophy Department.
(The Philosophy Department keeps on file copies of completed Honors Research Projects.
You may find these helpful to look at; they may give you ideas about how to go about
planning and designing your project.)