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Honors Program

The following guidelines have been developed by the Undergraduate and Honors Committee and approved by the faculty of the Department of Comparative Literature.

For qualified majors, participation in the departmental honors program affords an opportunity to engage in advanced, independent work and to focus on topics of special interest. Students planning to go on to graduate study should be aware that such advanced work on the undergraduate level could enhance their chances of being accepted into graduate programs and of being awarded graduate fellowships.

Admission to the Department’s Undergraduate Honors Program

To be considered for admission to the honors program, a major must have maintained a high level of academic achievement and taken at least one 300-level course within the Department of Comparative Literature. Ordinarily, a student must have an overall grade point average of 3.3, with a 3.5 average in comparative literature courses. (This requirement can be waived in exceptional cases.)

Application Procedure

During the fall semester of each year, the Director of Undergraduate Studies will send a letter to all majors in the Department of Comparative Literature, informing them about the Undergraduate Honors Program and inviting those who are qualified to apply. The Undergraduate and Honors Committee will also solicit nominations of promising students from comparative literature faculty. Students who initiate their own applications and those who are nominated by a faculty member will follow the same application procedure and will be evaluated according to the same criteria. In each case, the student will submit an application form (obtainable from the Director of Undergraduate Studies) and will solicit a letter of recommendation from a faculty member in the department. The Undergraduate and Honors Committee will evaluate the applications and invite successful applicants to join the program. Students usually join the honors program in their junior year, and no student will be admitted during his/her final semester as an undergraduate.


Honors students must complete a total of six credit hours of C499 (Studies for Honors) to graduate with honors. The student will choose one of the three following ways to complete these six credits:

  1. Three Honors Tutorials
    The honors tutorial ordinarily carries two credits per semester and is taken in conjunction with an upper-level comparative literature course in which the student is concurrently enrolled. The tutorial contract signed by the student and by the instructor at the beginning of the semester will contain a study outline and a statement about the frequency of tutorial sessions as well as about the written work expected of the student. At the termination of the tutorial, the student and the instructor will each submit a brief report, and the student will file copies of all written work with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. To qualify for graduation with honors, a student must have completed at least three honors tutorials, each under a different instructor. These instructors form the student's honors committee and make a recommendation to the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the student's final semester. A student may substitute one undergraduate senior seminar in comparative literature or one graduate course for one of the three required tutorials.
  2. Honors Thesis
    The honors thesis is written in the student's senior year, during which time the student will ordinarily enroll in three credits of C499 each semester. Students wishing to complete an honors thesis should, as soon as possible after admission into the honors program, choose an honors committee consisting of a thesis director and two other faculty members. A topic proposal drafted in consultation with the thesis director must be submitted to the comparative literature Undergraduate Committee early in the first semester. It is expected that the student will devote this semester to general research and to the preparation of a bibliography and thesis outline; the second semester is to be used for the actual writing of the paper. At the end of the first semester, the student will meet with his or her honors committee for a general discussion of the work in progress. This informal meeting is intended to provide an exchange of ideas on the nature, scope, and organization of the paper and to assess the student's progress. The student must submit a paper to his or her honors committee five weeks before his or her intended graduation date. This deadline allows time for the usual revisions, as well as the review by the Undergraduate Committee, and assures that the student will receive honors at the time of graduation. The recommendation of the student's committee must be submitted to the Undergraduate Committee three weeks before graduation. Students electing to write an honors thesis are not required to take tutorials.
  3. Honors Project
    It is also possible to achieve departmental honors by completing an honors project. Because of the special and individual nature of such projects, no general definition is possible. A project proposal must be submitted early in the student’s senior year to the Honors Committee, comprised of three faculty members, which will then set up the necessary conditions and guidelines.

Grants and Teaching Internships

Participation in the departmental Undergraduate Honors Program entitles a student to apply for an undergraduate research grant from the University Honors Division for the period of one academic year or one summer. The grant is intended to help with expenses incurred in the preparation of the honors thesis. Applications are channeled through the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Honors students are eligible for an undergraduate teaching internship during the senior year. It is designed for students who are thinking of making a career of college teaching. Teaching interns, who receive a small stipend for their services, will each assist a faculty member in all phases of teaching an undergraduate course, from planning the syllabus to evaluating the students' work, and will teach several class sessions themselves. Applications are screened by the department’s Undergraduate Committee and forwarded to the IU Honors Division which makes final selections.

Teaching internships may also be available within the department. Students should discuss the possibility with individual instructors and then make a formal request through the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the department chair.

Recommendations and Additional Information

Prospective Honors students are advised to enroll in C200 (Special Topics).

Honors students are urged to enroll in C405 (Senior Seminar in Comparative Literature) if it is offered. C405 is a topics course of limited enrollment and will be of particular interest to those students who plan to attend graduate school in comparative literature.

Participation in one of Indiana University's foreign study departments will not interfere with a student's honors work, but will complement it. For honors students accepted into such departments, special arrangements will be made to combine their honors work with their study abroad.