Requirements and Suggestions for Graduation with Departmental Honors
Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures
January 2010

Students considering graduation with honors in German or Russian must obtain information from the Honors Program website and file an application for graduation with honors in that office.  Students should pay close attention to all deadlines established by the Honors Program and GSLL.  Only German and Russian majors are eligible to graduate with Departmental Honors in GSLL.

In order to be eligible for graduation with departmental honors, students must have a minimum major GPA of 3.5 and a minimum overall GPA of 3.3.  (Students interested in receiving departmental honors but whose overall GPA falls slightly short of the 3.3 minimum GPA are encouraged to contact the Honors Representative regarding a possible waiver of this requirement.)  In addition to the minimum GPA requirements, the student is required to write an honors thesis.  Please note: students do not sign up for a course in order to write their honors thesis.  (Students may register for an independent study as part of their honors thesis, and can register for a maximum of three independent study hours in the fall semester and three in the spring semester.)

Students should consult with both the faculty academic advisor and the Departmental Honors Representative to the Honors Council, Professor Laura Osterman, at the beginning of the semester preceding the semester in which graduation is anticipated (fall for spring/summer graduation and spring for fall graduation.  The Departmental Honors Representative will assist the student in the selection of a director of the thesis.  The director serves as the first reader; a second reader is to be sought from within the department.  A third member of the examination will be a member from another academic department.  At least one member must be on the Honors Council.  Students will meet regularly with their thesis director to discuss progress.

The idea for the thesis should come from the student; it can be developed and defined in consultation with the Departmental Honors Representative.  Although the length of the thesis is determined by the topic, it is expected to be between 40 and 60 pages long.  If the thesis is written in the target language, there should be a main text minimum of 25 pages.  If a student chooses to write the thesis in the target language (German or Russian) they should be aware that it is often difficult to find a faculty member outside the department who is able to evaluate work in a foreign language.

Students should also be aware that the thesis – in most cases the first independent research undertaken – will demand more time than anticipated.  For this reason, it is essential to begin work on it as early as possible.

Students should take careful note of the date the final copy of the thesis is due in the Honors Program Office.  At least three weeks before this date, a final draft of the thesis must be submitted to the thesis director. Corrections and revisions can be made after this date.  When this draft has been approved, a one-hour oral examination will be scheduled.  Although the oral exam is focused on the thesis, other relevant matters may be brought up by the committee.  Students will submit a final copy of their thesis to the Honors Program after the oral examination.

Once the student has successfully completed the oral examination, the committee will decide what honors designation to award the student.  Honors designation is awarded as follows: summa cum laude = fully original research based on materials including those in target language along with broad knowledge of the scholarly literature on the subject matter; magna cum laude = knowledge of the scholarly literature, proven ability to apply known approaches to the material; some original results;
cum laude = summation and analysis of the existing scholarly literature on the subject.  The student’s major and overall GPA is also taken into consideration when determining the honors designation.

None of the deadlines defined here and in the memorandum from the Honors Program can be waived.