The honors program is designed to enable qualified students to devote a substantial portion of their senior year's course work to an extensive research project, culminating in the writing of a thesis and the completion of an oral examination. Students are expected to work within a field in which they already know the general literature and which Smith faculty can support.
The program allows a student to prepare her honors thesis over two semesters (JUD 430D) for a total of 8 credits.
Requirements for the Honors Major
11 semester courses, with JUD 430d counting for two of them.
The Honors major in Jewish Studies comprises 11 semester courses:
A. Basic Requirements
1. Basis: JUD 125 Jewish Civilization (same as REL 225), normally taken in a student’s first or second year.
2. Language: JUD 100y Elementary Modern Hebrew, counting as two semester courses. Students who arrive at Smith with the equivalent of a year of college-level Hebrew may petition for exemption from this requirement; in such cases, they are strongly encouraged to continue their study of Jewish languages. Exemption from JUD 100y does not reduce the requirement to take ten semester courses for the major.
B. Breadth Requirement: six further courses from the categories Language, The Bible and Classical Judaism, Religion and Thought, History and Politics, and Literature and the Arts.
In keeping with the multidisciplinary character of Jewish Studies, these six courses must include one or more courses from at least three of the following four categories: The Bible and Classical Judaism, Religion and Thought, History and Politics, and Literature and the Arts. Students can expect advisers to work closely with them to select courses that cover the chronological sweep of Jewish civilization from biblical times to the present.
C. Honors Capstone Requirement: the year-long honors thesis project (JUD 430d) counting as two semester courses.
1. No course counting toward the major shall be taken for an S/U grade.
2. In addition to JUD 100y and JUD 125, no more than two courses at the 100 level shall count toward the major.
3. Although JUD 100y is the minimum language requirement for the major, the Program strongly encourages students to continue study of Hebrew, and to do so at Smith when appropriate courses are available: JUD 200 Intermediate Modern Hebrew or JUD 201 Readings in Modern Hebrew Language; special studies in language. A student may continue her study of Hebrew, or of another Jewish language such as Yiddish, within the Five-College consortium or at an approved program elsewhere.
4. Courses on Junior Year Abroad Programs or on other approved programs for study away may count toward the major. A student’s petition to count such courses must be approved by the major adviser and the Jewish Studies Program after the course has been completed.
5. With the approval of her adviser, a student may count one Smith College course from outside the approved list of Jewish Studies courses toward the major, when that course offers a broader comparative framework for Jewish Studies. In such a case, the student writes at least one of her assignments for the course on a Jewish Studies topic.
Requirements for Admission to Honors
A student majoring in Jewish Studies who intends to submit an application for candidacy in the honors program should first meet with the director of honors in Jewish Studies to obtain the application form and the college's regulation sheet and to make sure that the procedures for admission are understood. Proposals are normally developed during the spring semester of the student's junior year either by directly meeting with a potential thesis adviser or by clarifying the proposal via e–mail if the student is studying abroad.
To be admitted to the honors program a student must have a 3.4 cumulative GPA through her junior year, demonstrate the ability to do independent work, and have her thesis proposal approved by the program by the requisite deadline.The achievement of the minimum GPA is no guarantee that a student's honors proposal will be accepted.
A student should arrange to have one faculty member from the program serve as her thesis adviser. The thesis adviser is to supervise the planning, research, writing, and evaluation of the thesis. Because the adviser and candidate will work closely together throughout the duration of the program, a student must make sure that her adviser will not be on leave or on sabbatical during the relevant semesters. In addition, students may suggest the names of other faculty whom they desire to act as readers for the thesis, although the program must approve the second reader.
Students are encouraged to submit proposals during the spring semester of her junior year. The college's deadline for application for honors is the third week of September (or the first week of February in the case of students completing their college studies in January). In order for the program to complete its review process, however, applications and proposals must be submitted to the director of honors no later than two weeks before the college's deadline for applying to honors. Students who have not received approval for their projects by the end of the spring semester of their junior year must register for a four–course load for the following semester; if they are admitted to honors they can then drop one or two regular courses during the year and substitute honors.
In addition to completing the college's application form, each student will submit a proposal for honors. The proposal should be approximately three double–spaced typed pages that explain the specifics of the project by outlining the following:
- What issues will be explored?
- Which historical eras, texts, or thinkers will the project focus upon?
- What types of methods will be used?
An initial annotated bibliography including relevant primary and secondary sources should be appended to the proposal. The program may ask a student to rewrite her proposal and to submit it again, but this cannot be done after the college's official deadline. All proposals should be developed under the supervision of a student's potential thesis adviser. Proposals submitted at the last minute and without close consultation with a faculty member often fail to meet the research and scholarly specifications required to secure program approval.
The honors thesis is expected to be a mature and polished piece of undergraduate research. Though there is no minimum or maximum page limit for the thesis, normally they amount to at least fifty pages (double–spaced) and rarely exceed eighty pages.
Jewish Studies follows the college deadlines for due dates. The final version of the thesis is due to the thesis adviser according to the final deadline set by the college. The date of the oral examination is set through negotiation between the honors candidate, the adviser, and the program, and must take place on or before the final day of classes for the semester.
Honors work in Jewish Studies will be evaluated in the following fashion:
- 60% for the written thesis
- 10% for the oral defense
- 30% for GPA in the Jewish Studies major
A student who is pursuing a major in Jewish Studies and another department or program may want to develop an honors thesis project that integrates work from both majors. Please consult the director of honors for more information.