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Honors Program

History Honors is a selective, three-semester program of individual undergraduate research, guided by faculty advisers. Honors students propose, research, and write a baccalaureate thesis on an original topic. Through seminars and independent study, students acquire the advanced research skills required for success across a broad range of occupations.

Important Information for Current Applicants

  • Application dates TBD.


All history majors will be invited to apply to the program in the beginning of September each year. Candidates must be majors in history or in the interdisciplinary program in economics and history. They should have attained a minimum overall GPA of 3.3.

Any student planning to study abroad during the spring semester of the program should apply for provisional admission. Final admission will depend on a review of the student’s record for the junior year and submission of a successful thesis prospectus, due no later than June 15. Students in this situation should remain in regular contact with the instructor of HIST 3980 over the course of the semester.


Applications are due in the fall of your junior year. Application is subject to change and provided for illustration only. For questions or more information, please consult your adviser or the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Course of Study

  • All students admitted into the Honors Program will be assigned a faculty adviser with appropriate expertise. Students in the Economics and History program will have one adviser in History and one in Economics.
  • Students take a three-semester sequence of courses: HIST 3980 (3) in spring of junior year; HIST 4980-4981 (6) in fall of senior year; and HIST 4999 (3) in spring of senior year. HIST 4999 recognizes the effort required to complete the thesis by conferring an additional 3 hours of credit but does not involve additional class meetings. Students receive a total of 12 hours of credit for the Honors Program, which will count toward the 30 hours required for the history major.
  • Each student produces three drafts of their thesis during the senior year: a first draft in late November, a second draft in mid-March, and a final draft in April. After the thesis is submitted, the student takes an oral examination, known as the thesis defense. The defense takes place during the spring examination period before a three-person faculty committee consisting of the faculty adviser, the Director of History Honors, and a third reader. The third reader may come from outside the history department.
  • One student will receive the Dewey Grantham Award, presented for the best honors thesis in history. All theses will be e-archived at the Vanderbilt Library and available to the public.