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Honors Program

updated Aug.22, 2017

CONGRATULATIONS 2017 SENIOR HONORS STUDENTS! Six students have passed their senior honors defenses. Well done! Below is a list of the students, their thesis title and the Professors who advised, taught and guided them. These theses will be e-archived during the summer.

2017 History Honors Theses

John Bouchard, “Insuring Peace:  British Intervention in Northern Ireland After the Belfast Peace Agreement,” (Epstein, Blackbourn, Wcislo).  Awarded: Highest Honors.

Kathryn Fuselier, “ ‘The Best Laid Plans’:  French and British Diplomatic Strategy in the Jacobite Rising of 1745,” (Clay, Molineux, Wcislo).  Awarded: Highest Honors.

Anela Mangum, “Benign Negligence: U.S.-South Korean Relations at the End of the Carter Administration,” (Schwartz, You, Wcislo).  Awarded: Highest Honors.

Adam Markovich, “Jeffrey Sachs and the Costs of Capitalism.  Shock Therapy in eastern European Transition Economies,” (Schwartz, Rousseau, Wcislo).  Awarded: Honors.

Robert Yee, “Commerce and Corporate Governance: Financial Attempts to Restructure the  British East India Company, 1765-1773,” (Caferro, Sheikh, Wcislo).  Awarded: Highest Honors and Winner of the Dewey Grantham Prize for best honors thesis.

Jake Zellner, “Detroit ‘Polar Bears’ in the Land of Lice and Snow:  The American Soldier Experience in North Russia, 1918 – 1919,” (Schwartz, Cowie, Wcislo).  Awarded: Highest Honors.

All History Majors will be invited to apply to the Honors program at the beginning of September each year.

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, they acquire the advanced research skills required for success across a broad range of occupations. 

Course of Study

Each student will be assigned a faculty adviser with appropriate expertise. Students in the Economics and History program will have one adviser in history and another in economics. All students take a three-semester sequence of courses in which they get feedback on their work from fellow students as well as the course instructor and faculty adviser. In the spring of the junior year, they take History 3980, which is devoted to research methodology. They develop, and submit as a final paper, a prospectus (research proposal) that describes the topic, a tentative set of research questions, the secondary literature to which the project will contribute, and the published and unpublished primary sources that make research feasible. History 4980-4981, the senior honors seminar, is led by the director of history honors. Here students exchange, read, critique, and rethink drafts of one another’s manuscripts. In the spring semester, History 4999 recognizes the effort required to complete the thesis by conferring an additional 3 hours of credit; it does not involve additional class meetings. Students receive a total of 12 hours of credit for the honors program, all of which count toward the 30 hours required for the history major. 

The Thesis

Each student produces three drafts of the 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, who may come from outside the History Department. 

One student will receive the Dewey Grantham Award, presented for the best honors thesis in history. It comes with a cash award of $500 and will be announced on our Web pages and mentioned in the Commencement Program. All theses will be e-archived at the Vanderbilt Library and will be accessible on the Web for years to come. If you would like to browse the on-line collection of theses, please click on this link:

Since the program’s formation in 1985, 175 students have successfully defended an undergraduate thesis in history.

Requirements for Admission

Application to the Honors Program is made in the fall of junior 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. A brief letter of reference from a History Department faculty member who knows the student’s academic work should accompany the application. An Economics and History major should also request a letter from a faculty member in economics.

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 History 3980 over the course of the semester.