A candidate for departmental Honors must write a thesis (of approximately 75 pages, double-spaced) in addition to fulfilling the course requirements for the major. The process is comprised of five phases:

  • Phase I. Junior Year, Spring Semester. 
  • Prospective honors candidates must submit a “Declaration of Interest” form and contact their major advisor or prospective thesis advisor. 
  • Students interested in writing a thesis during the 2024-2025 academic year should complete this form by April 26, 2024 at 5:00 PM.
  • Phase II. Summer before Senior Year.
  • Prospective honors candidates conduct preliminary research, consulting a variety of primary and secondary sources, to define the scope of the thesis project.
  • Phase III. Senior Year, First Week of Fall Semester.
  • Prospective candidates submit a prospectus of their thesis during the first week of fall semester, before the end of the Add/Drop period. 
  • Students interested in writing a thesis during the 2024-2025 academic year should submit their thesis prospectus to the French Department ADC by 4:00 PM on September 6, 2024.
  • Phase IV. Senior Year, Fall Semester.
  • If the prospectus is approved by the faculty, candidates enroll in FREN-498, meet regularly with their thesis advisor, and submit the draft of one chapter (25-30 pages, double-spaced) by the end of fall term. 
  • Phase V. Senior Year, Spring Semester.
  • Candidates who have fulfilled the requirements of the fall semester are invited to enroll in FREN-499. Candidates complete their project and present their work at an oral defense. 

Please see below for a more thorough description of each phase. 


Junior Year, Spring Semester | Declaration of Interest 

While students may begin thinking about a thesis project at any point during their first three years, those interested in writing a thesis must complete the “Declaration of Interest Form” * and contact their advisor or the professor with whom they would like to work. The “Declaration of Interest Form” does not commit the student to writing a thesis, but rather initiates a conversation with faculty prior to undertaking preliminary research during the summer.  

Students interested in writing a thesis during the 2024-2025 academic year should complete this form by April 26, 2024 at 5:00 PM.

The French Department will organize an information session for prospective thesis writers in the spring semester of each year. Students are highly encouraged to attend this session to learn more about the process and to ask questions. 

Prospective thesis writers are also encouraged to attend the annual Thesis Showcase, where current honors candidates will present their work. This is also an opportunity for prospective writers to ask questions about the process of their peers. 

* All 3rd-year students interested in writing a thesis must complete this form. Students will still be able to submit their form after the deadline, but a delay in doing so may result in fewer opportunities to receive feedback from faculty before the summer break. 


Summer Before Senior Year | Preliminary Research

The summer before senior year should be dedicated to reading primary and secondary sources to gain familiarity with the context and content of the subject(s) that prospective honors candidates wish to explore. This period of intensive reading and exploration is intended to help students define and refine their thesis topic, to select the primary sources with which they will engage, to compile a preliminary bibliography of secondary sources, and to draft a prospectus (see Phase III).


Senior Year, First Week of Fall Semester | Thesis Prospectus

Students will submit a five-page thesis prospectus to the Department by the end of the first week of classes of the fall semester, prior to the end of Add/Drop. 

Students interested in writing a thesis during the 2024-2025 academic year should submit their thesis prospectus to the French Department ADC by 4:00 PM on September 6, 2023.

The thesis prospectus presents in outline the subject of the thesis, its rationale, and the materials that will likely be studied. It should also contain a list of courses, completed in the French department or elsewhere, that are related to the project, and describe how the sources, the ideas, and/or methodologies of these courses have informed the thesis project. It may be formatted in a number of ways but should include the following:

  1. A two-page description of the project, including an explanation of its topic, the questions that it raises, and the principal materials (e.g. the primary and secondary texts) with which it will engage.
  2. A detailed two-page outline of the proposed work plan leading to completion of the thesis. This can, but need not, indicate the intended focus of each chapter.
  3. A one-page core bibliography on the proposed topic.

The Department will review prospectuses and, pending their approval, will grant students permission to write their thesis. The thesis may be written in French or English (Writing in French is contingent upon the French faculty’s positive evaluation of the thesis proposal’s grammatical and stylistic proficiency.)


Senior Year, Fall Semester | First Chapter of Thesis

Students who have been granted permission to undertake a thesis project will enroll in FREN-498. They will dedicate the fall semester to drafting their first chapter and meeting with their thesis advisor on a regular basis. Students are required to complete a draft of one chapter (25-30 pages) by the end of fall semester. 

At the end of the first semester, students will also meet with their advisors to discuss their progress as well as next steps. Upon a review and evaluation of the draft and of the student’s overall performance over the course of the semester, the advisor will determine whether it is feasible for the project to continue as a thesis into the spring semester. 

  • Candidates who produce a substantive draft, demonstrate independence and diligence, and present a concrete path for successive chapters, will receive a grade of “Y” and will be invited to enroll in FREN-499, the spring semester honors program.
  • For those who do not satisfy these requirements, the first semester of the honors program will be designated a Special Topics course for which they will receive a letter grade. 
  • Students who no longer wish to pursue their project in the spring semester may also convert the thesis into a Special Topics at this time. 


Senior Year, Spring Semester | Completion of Thesis & Defense

During the spring semester, candidates will draft the remaining chapters of their thesis and submit a final version to their advisor and their second reader, whom they will select in advance. 

The document that is submitted to the committee will be evaluated for a letter grade and should be considered the final version of the thesis. It should be submitted to the committee no later than two weeks prior to the oral defense. Oral defenses of the completed thesis will take place in April, no later than two weeks before the date set by the Registrar’s Office for the submission of the final version. Students will have an opportunity to make revisions based on comments from their committee before submitting the finalized thesis to the Registrar’s Office. Student should consult this page on the Registrar’s website for submission guidelines. 

Honors candidates will be invited to participate in the department’s annual Thesis Showcase, which will take place in April. Participation in this event is not required but highly encouraged. It serves as an opportunity to share and celebrate student work and to model the process for prospective candidates.


Deadline to submit Thesis Prospectus to ADC: September 6, 2024

Deadline to submit Draft of First Chapter: TBD

Deadline to submit draft to committee: TBD

Defense: TBD

Registrar’s deadline for final version: TBD


Deadline to submit Declaration of Interest: TBD

Tags:  french  honors