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How does an honors thesis differ from a long paper, or from a graduate thesis? This is a key question to discuss with your faculty advisers: establishing a scope for the thesis is your first challenge. In general, however, a thesis attempts, through analysis of primary sources, to address a new question or to reinterpret a moment in history, an undertaking spurred by a willingness to question accepted versions of a story and to expand on the understanding of the past. Fidelity to primary sources in constructing an argument and a solid grasp of the existing work on the topic are crucial to the project, as is patience with the writing and revision process. One of the rewards of original research, and a question to keep you engaged as you work, is the significance of the ideas you present.


Students accepted for the Honors program, in additional to fulfilling the general requirements stated above, begin work as early as Spring Quarter of the junior year and complete the essay by mid-May of the senior year. In addition to HISTORY 299H Junior Honors Colloquium, students must enroll in 11-15 units of Senior Research in the senior year, to be distributed as best fits their specific project.  For students in the Honors program, Senior Research units HISTORY 299A Senior Research I, HISTORY 299B, Senior Research II, and HISTORY 299C Senior Research III are taken in addition to the 13 required courses in History.

Outstanding honors essays may be considered for the University's Robert M. Golden Medals, as well as for departmental James Birdsall Weter prizes.

How to Apply

To enter this program, the student must be accepted by a member of the department who agrees to advise the research and writing of the essay, and must complete the Junior Honors Colloquium (299H) offered in Winter Quarter. An exception to the latter requirement may be made for those studying overseas Winter Quarter of the junior year, but such students should consult with the director of the honors program, if possible, prior to going overseas. Students who study abroad for the entire junior year and want to write an honors thesis should plan to take the Research Seminar for Majors in the first quarter following completion of the study abroad program.

In considering an applicant for such a project, the adviser and director of the honors program take into account general preparation in the field of the project and expect a GPA of at least 3.5 in the student's previous work in History and a 3.3 in overall University work. Students completing the thesis with a grade of 'B+' or higher are eligible for Departmental Honors in History. To enter the Honors program, apply at the Department of History office.   See the Forms tab for the appropriate application.

Recent Thesis Titles

  • Voluntary Nazification: Nationalist Fervor Among the Danish-German Borderland's Ethnic Germans
  • Stanford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie: Redefining the Classical University in the Gilded Age
  • "Semi-Oriental": Japan and Orientalism in the Age of Perry
  • Anatomy of a Conspiracy: The History of the Cigarette Industry's "Committee of Counsel" and the Lawyers Who Saved Big Tobacco
  • Hidden Narratives: Inventing Universal History in Joseph Priestley's Charts of History and Biography
  • Separate Worlds?  Israel-Palestine and the Apartheid Analogy Discourse, 1948-2015
  • The Swiss Government and Holocaust-Era Dormant Accounts
  • "All the World in my Hut": Colonial Broadcasting, Idealogies of Rule, and the Making of a Listening Public in Northern Rhodesia, 1953-1963
  • "The Canary Looks at the Crow": Hikida Yasuichi and Japanese Interest in Afro-America during the Second World War
  • The Act of Union 1707: Economic, Political, and Religious Influences
  • Democratizing Jihad: The Global Diffusion of Al Qaeda's Authority
  • The Ant and the Watermelon: Paul Baran and the Politics of Information Technology, 1960-1979