Any student with a strong academic background may apply to complete an honors project in the department or program of her major. A successfully completed thesis project leads to the awarding of the bachelor of arts degree with the notation “honors," "high honors” or “highest honors” in the student’s major subject. Honors students’ names and the titles of their thesis projects are listed in the Commencement program. You may only earn honors in one major.
Eligibility for admission to the honors program is determined by each department or program and students must be seniors. Consult the director of honors in your department or program about eligibility and deadlines before submitting a proposal and application. Please note: students who are on probation the semester prior to applying for honors are not eligible and students need to have been enrolled at Smith the semester prior to applying for honors.
You must be in residence in Northampton for the duration of the honors thesis project.
Honor Board Sanctions
To be enrolled in departmental honors you must certify that you have not been sanctioned by the Honor Board at a serious level (one-third-step grade reduction or more) for a violation in your sophomore, junior or senior year.
If you receive a sanction from the Honor Board during your senior year you must convert your honors project to a special studies.
You will need a faculty adviser for your thesis project. Consult with the director of honors in your department if you are unsure about whom to ask.
The primary adviser of your thesis project must be a member of the Smith faculty in your major department or program; faculty at other Five College institutions may serve as second readers.
Honors students must be enrolled in at least 12 credits (which may include the thesis). Ada Comstock Scholars are expected to consult with the Ada Comstock Scholar dean about credit.
The college-wide honors program is administered by SHIP under the Committee on Academic Priorities (CAP). Send questions to the dean of the senior class, who serves as chair of the subcommittee, at email@example.com.
You must be enrolled in an honors course when you undertake a thesis project. There are three options for the course:
- One-semester course (431; 8 credits)—fall semester only of the senior year
- Yearlong course (430D; 8 credits)—4 credits each semester
- Yearlong course (432D; 12 credits)—6 credits in each semester
Not all departments offer all options; consult the course catalog or ask the director of honors in your department.
Your completed application and proposal must be approved by your department or program and the Subcommittee on Honors and Independent Programs (SHIP) before you are officially registered in the course, usually during the third week of the semester in which you start your thesis.
Developing an Honors Thesis from a Special Studies or Senior Seminar Paper
You may, with the endorsement of your adviser, transform a successful first-semester project (4 credits) in your major into an honors thesis (4 credits) in your major in the second semester of your senior year. You will need to submit an honors proposal and completed application to your department by the first day of the second semester of your senior year or sooner if required by your department. If approved, you will have one semester of the thesis/project course on record in the semester in which you are officially enrolled as an honors student. There is no change to the first-semester special studies or seminar. This is not an option for continuing work undertaken at another institution (includes the 5-Colleges).
Consult the directors of honors list if you are interested in this possibility.
Library Permission Form
All thesis projects are archived electronically at the Smith Libraries. The library needs permission from you in order to catalog your thesis. You must sign the Smith College Libraries Permission Form for Honors Project. Email the completed permission form to Colin Van Alstine at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not submit the form your thesis project cannot be catalogued.
Library Permission Form for Honors (Word document)
The library offers a variety of resources to assist students with honors projects.
How to Apply
Submit your honors application to the director of honors in your department or program before the last departmental meeting of the spring semester. Contact the director of honors to get the exact date.
The director of honors will forward approved applications to the Subcommittee on Honors and Independent Programs (SHIP) after graduation. You will be informed of the decision by late June.
Submit your honors application to your department or program before the first departmental meeting of the semester. Contact the director of honors to get the exact date.
The director will forward all approved applications to SHIP by the end of the second week of the semester. The subcommittee will consider all applications, and the chair of SHIP will officially enroll you in the appropriate honors course by the end of the third week of the semester.
There are five steps to honors applications:
1. Request a form for a Calculation of Your Grade Point Average
- Write to email@example.com to request the form for calculation of your GPA.
- Include your ID number and your major in the email (you can only pursue honors in one major).
- The form will be sent to you as an email attachment.
2. Calculate your GPA with Your Adviser
Use the GPA form to calculate your GPA inside the major (and outside the major if required by your department). You should do this with your adviser. The minimum GPA to be eligible for a thesis is set by your department or program.
3. Submit Your Project Proposal and completed application by the Deadline
Be sure to submit your project proposal and completed application to the director of honors in your major department on time.
Your proposal should contain:
- A signed Application with checklist to Enter Departmental Honors Form as a cover sheet (students should download Word to complete the application).
- a 500- to 1,000-word description of the broader scholarly issue you will investigate
- the specific issue you will discuss or investigate
- an explanation of your approach and evidence of your experience with this approach
- an account of your relevant preparation and skills (previous coursework related to the project topic, quantitative skills, foreign language ability, etc.)
- a bibliography
- a copy of the completed and signed calculation of GPA requirements form
- The application form is double-sided; the reverse side has a checklist of steps you must take to submit a proposal. Please complete all the steps and sign and date the checklist when you hand in your thesis project proposal. If your application is not signed by an adviser in your department, it cannot be considered.
4. Submit a Certification Letter
You must certify that you have not been sanctioned by the Honor Board at a serious level (one-third-step grade reduction or more) for a serious violation in your sophomore, junior or senior year.
Submit the Departmental Honors Certification Letter to the chair of SHIP by mail to College Hall 101, or attach it in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Submit Your Thesis Project Funding Request
If you are applying for funding through the Nancy Kershaw Tomlinson Memorial Fund, please submit your request with your thesis project proposal.
After your thesis project has been approved by SHIP and you have been enrolled in honors, you should discuss with your adviser whether or not you should participate in a meeting with the appropriate research librarian for your field. A consultation with the librarian can help you keep track of the documentation for your thesis. Meetings will take place in small groups of thesis writers with similar interests.
All approved honors students, their thesis advisers and departmental directors of honors are automatically enrolled in a Moodle site for honors managed by the honors coordinator in the class deans office. It provides basic information, important deadlines, and is where students upload their honors thesis title page and a final PDF of their theses/projects for cataloging by the library.
See Departmental Honors for timeline and all important dates.
Thesis Project Funding
A memorial fund in honor of Nancy Kershaw Tomlinson was established to help student thesis writers pay for some of the expenses incurred in honors projects.
Tomlinson grants in any one year are limited and may not cover all of your expenses. Money is awarded as a reimbursement either to you or to your department here at Smith, so you will need to keep your original receipts. Awards are not always approved.
To receive funding you must include:
- A full explanation of how you will use the funds
- An itemized budget for the honors project on either or both of the following forms:
- The signature of the honors thesis adviser and the director of honors supporting your request certifying that departmental or grant funds and supplies have been used to the fullest extent possible in meeting the needs of the honors project.
The Subcommittee on Honors and Independent Programs (SHIP) will not consider late applications. Requests for funding must be made at the time students are applying for honors.
Tomlinson money cannot be supplemented with extra funding from the dean of the college.
The Tomlinson Memorial Fund does not give cash advances; it only reimburses expenses, either to you or your department.
- You must document all your expenses with original receipts and a completed reimbursement form.
- If you are purchasing supplies through your department, you must speak to the administrative assistant in your program about reimbursement to the department.
- Reimbursement is made in one of two ways: through direct deposit into the student’s personal bank account OR through direct transfer to the departmental account of the student’s major department. In either case, original receipts are required for reimbursement as noted above.
- If you are paying cash to participants who are in a study/survey you are conducting (only with permission from the Institutional Review Board first) the college requirement limits each participant to $25 or less and a receipt needs to be obtained for reimbursement purposes. Email the honors assistant for a receipt template if needed at email@example.com.
- The Tomlinson Fund cannot cover laptops or other computer equipment.
- The Tomlinson Fund cannot cover tuition or room and board for summer school.
- Anything you buy with Tomlinson money (equipment, books, DVDs or CDs or other unused supplies) becomes the property of Smith and should be turned in to the senior class dean no later than April 15.
- You can only use Tomlinson money to help with honors theses projects.