Departmental Honor Program

Normally students planning to write a thesis should have completed BLST 300 before the last semester of their senior year.  All candidates for Honors must write a senior thesis.  Candidates for Honors will, with departmental permission, take BLST 498-499 during their senior year.  The departmental recommentation for Latin honors will be determined by the student's level of performance on their thesis.

A student who wishes to write a thesis in the Black Studies Department should consult with their advisor about a topic in the spring semester of junior year, submit a 5 page prospectus (similar to that written in BLST 300), and a brief bibiliography to the department office on the first Friday in April of their junior year.  The proposal should contain a description of the questions, materials, and methods that students will use in their respective research.  It should also convey the rationale for the topic selected, the feasibility of the project, and the overall relevance of the thesis to the intellectual field of Black Studies.  The central elements of a proposal are:

  • a clear and concise introduction to your research topic
  • a presentation of the main research question(s)
  • a summary of your basic argument
  • a brief literature review (What is the relevance of your work in relation to the academic studies already conducted and published in the field?)
  • a commentary on the basis research materials (the primary sources)
  • a focused bibliography formatted according to The Chicago Manual of Style (Please list the most relevant journal articles and books surrounding your topic, in addition to a well-selected list of primary sources).

The Black Studies faculty will consider thesis proposals at the last department meeting of the academic year.  If a proposal is approved, a faculty member will be assigned to work with the student.  Students whose proposals show promise but do not meet the standard for approval, will have the opportunity to revise their proposals over the summer and resubmit them at the beginning of the fall semester.

Students are encouraged to start work on their senior thesis during the summer between junior and senior year.  Funding may be available for up to eight weeks to students who need to stay on campus to get started on their research.  Please see Funding for Students for more details.

The thesis student and faculty advisor will determine a structured timetable.  The first chapter of the thesis is due to the thesis advisor on the last day of classes in the fall semester (December 11, 2019). Thesis advisors will evaluate the student's progress and recommend to the department chair if the student should be allowed to continue their thesis work no later than January 15, 2020.  The student will be notified of the department's decision for them to continue their thesis work or not by the first day of classes in the spring semester (January 27, 2020).  Continuation into the second semester of thesis work does not guarantee that a student will receive departmental honors.

Students should submit a paper copy of their thesis to the black studies department office and submit an electronic copy of their thesis to blackstudies@amherst.edu by April 10, 2020 (tentatively).  Oral examinations will be between April 17 - 23, 2020.

Please review the college policy on Thesis Guidelines found on the Registrar's website. The deadline to submit your thesis to the Registrar is Tuesday, May 5, 2020.