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Honors Degree

Requirements for Departmental Honors Degree in Philosophy

If you are interested in an Honors Degree in Philosophy see the Departmental Honors Advisor after reading through the four requirements below. Consult also the considerable information provided by the Office of Undergraduate Research: e.g., consider applying to UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) to get paid for your research; and by all means, plan to earn the Undergraduate Research Scholar Designation.

Earning the Departmental Honors Degree in Philosophy involves meeting all the regular requirements for the philosophy degree you are seeking – whether you're seeking the standard Philosophy Major, or the Philosophy of Science MajorPLUS further requirements:

    • Honors Philosophy Major: the further requirements are detailed below.
    • Honors Philosophy of Science Major: The details of the further requirements for the Honors version of this degree are still being worked-out, though among other things it will require additional 5000 level coursework. Contact the Departmental Honors Advisor for further information. (If you are planning to graduate soon, contact the advisor ASAP.)

For the Honors version of the standard Philosophy Major, there are four further requirements (over and above the regular degree requirements):

  1. Honors Coursework Requirement
    • This involves satisfactory completion of the Honors coursework requirements, itself having two parts:
      • Four Honors Core courses: Details about this Honors Core coursework are under the administration of the Honors College – see their Degree Course Planner.
      • Three Honors Elective courses: Here, bear in mind that the philosophy department's Advanced Course Requirement (below) satisfies the elective course requirements for Honors. So, no additional Honors elective courses are needed beyond meeting the requirements below.
    • These two sorts of Honors coursework may be completed at any time, whether prior to working on the Thesis, or concurrently with it.
  2. Advanced Course Requirement
    • This involves completion of four philosophy courses at the 5000-level with a grade of B+ or better, and with at least one course each in Area I, Area II, and Area III. (The four official Areas of philosophy coursework are explained here.)
    • This requirement goes beyond the Advanced Course Requirement for the standard Philosophy Major, in that the latter only requires (a) completion of three 5000-level courses, (b) the courses may be distributed across any of the four Areas, and (c) the student needs mere passing grades. The Honors version of the requirement thus entails greater quantity and breadth of advanced coursework, along with an expectation of higher-level performance. (Consequently, satisfying the Advanced Course Requirement for the Honors degree in Philosophy also satisfies the Advanced Course Requirement for the standard Philosophy Major.)
    • Alternatively, students may substitute a graduate-level Philosophy course (6000- or 7000-level), completed with a grade of B or better, for any of the four required 5000-level courses. For further information on this option contact the Departmental Honors Advisor.
    • Note that independent study coursework (whether at the undergraduate or graduate level) does not count toward the Advanced Course Requirement.
  3. Honors Thesis Requirement — encompasses four main tasks:
    • Find a Thesis Supervisor.
      • The supervisor will be a faculty member in the Department of Philosophy. Finding a supervisor is your responsibility, not the responsibility of the department, nor the Honors College.
      • Here are some rules of thumb for finding a Thesis Supervisor:
        • Typically, this faculty member will be someone whose research interests overlap your proposed Thesis topic.
        • Typically, this faculty member will be someone with whom you have already established rapport — perhaps you have earned a top grade in a course with this professor, or served as a research assistant, or some such. The point is that the faculty member needs some basis for judging you an appropriate student to mentor.
        • Build relationships with your professors: introduce yourself; be a regular participant in class; use office hours; and so on. These relationships will serve you not merely in finding a Thesis Supervisor, but in getting strong letters of recommendation when applying to grad school.
    • Register for Phil 4999.
      • Register for this 3 unit course ("Honors Thesis Project") in the academic semester in which you plan to complete your Thesis.
      • You will need to enroll using a section number assigned for the faculty member who is supervising your thesis. When the time comes, you will need to get the section number and code used to register for these units from the department. (Contact Connie Corbett in Philosophy Dept.)
    • Complete your manuscript — at a satisfactory level of quality.
      • This will be a substantial research paper. You should think of the workload as comparable to a rigorous, upper-division course. And you should think of the resulting paper as needing to be a significantly higher quality product than an excellent term paper. Your Thesis Supervisor will provide further specific guidance concerning quality expectations.
      • A three member committee (consisting of your Thesis Supervisor, the Departmental Honors Advisor, and the Department Chair) will make the final judgment about whether your Thesis is of satisfactory quality.
    • Coordinate with the Honors College regarding their own specfic requirements.
      • Though standards of quality are determined by the three member departmental committee (as noted above), the Honors College imposes various additional requirements relating to formatting, deadlines, and the like. See their requirements in conjunction with your work on the manuscript.
      • Additionally, it is recommended that you contact the Honors College to ensure you are up to date with their most current guidelines.
  4. You must achieve an overall GPA of at least 3.5. This applies to all coursework.

As you can see, earning an Honors Degree involves significantly more work than for a regular degree. Why then bother? There are numerous benefits, including (among others):

    • Develop advanced research skills.
    • Improve your writing skills.
    • Become an expert in a philosophical topic.
    • Achieve a more complete educational experience.
    • Enhance your ability to be accepted in a top graduate program: Admissions committees recognize the above virtues. Furthermore, you will be in a better position to get strong letters of recommendation. And you will have a polished writing sample ready to submit.

For further information about the Honors degree, please contact the Departmental Honors Advisor or the Philosophy Department at 801-581-8161.

Last Updated: 1/4/21