The Honors Program is designed for qualified students interested in doing intensive and individualized work in philosophy. Only those students who have successfully completed the Honors Program are eligible to receive major standings of Honors or High Honors.

The program is divided into three stages: the Junior Honors Seminar, preparation and submission of a thesis proposal, and thesis writing. All students who register for the Philosophy Major and who expect to have the necessary cumulative averages (3.50 in Philosophy and 3.33 overall) are invited to join the Junior Honors Seminars. In order to be accepted for thesis writing, a student must successfully complete a Junior Honors Seminar, maintain or attain by the end of the Junior year the required averages, and have a thesis proposal approved by the Philosophy Department by the end of the term in residence prior to commencement of thesis writing.

Junior Honors Seminars

Honors students are required to complete a Junior Honors Seminar by the end of the spring term of their junior year and prior to submission of a thesis proposal for departmental approval. These small, not-for-credit seminars meet four or five times per term. Students engage in independent research and writing, discuss their research with participants in the seminar, and produce a sample senior thesis proposal. The proposal produced need not be the proposal ultimately submitted to the department.

Students may take the seminar in any or all terms of their junior year. In spring term, the junior honors seminar ends in the sixth week, so students have time to revise any proposals for final submission to the department (see below).

Preparation and Submission of Thesis Proposal

During the junior year, students should consult with faculty members who might serve as advisors in the preparation and submission of a thesis proposal. Thesis proposals must be submitted to the Chair of the department by the end of the seventh week of spring term in the junior year. These proposals may be the result of work in the Junior Honors Seminar, or significantly modified versions of the junior honors work, but they may also be on a different topic. Students are strongly encouraged to complete and to submit their proposals before the spring term deadline since the department may ask for modifications before allowing students to proceed with thesis writing. All proposals will be approved or denied by the Philosophy Department before the start of fall term in the senior year, and typically soon after they are submitted. Once proposals are approved by the Philosophy Department, the Chair of the department appoints a thesis supervisor for each student. Typically, this will be the faculty member with whom the student has been working to produce a proposal. In some cases, however, another supervisor may be appointed, especially if a single faculty member has been in consultation with multiple students.

Thesis Writing

Students writing a senior thesis are strongly encouraged to be in residence for the entirety of their senior year. Students writing theses are enrolled in PHIL 89 for the fall term and PHIL 90 for winter term of their senior year (exceptions to this may be made be for those students on the Philosophy FSP—see below*). Only one of the two terms may count towards satisfying the major requirements.

*Students on the Philosophy FSP in Edinburgh will write a Winter-Spring thesis, enrolling in Phil 89 for the Winter term and Phil 90 for the Spring term of their senior year. Owing to the more compressed time-frame, FSP students writing an honors thesis should begin their thesis work during the FSP, where support for workshopping ideas will be provided. During this time, students should also begin working (remotely) with their Dartmouth Thesis advisors, so that their work is significantly underway by the start of Winter term. In extraordinary cases, a student not on the FSP may be permitted to write a winter-spring or fall-spring thesis. In such cases, students are expected to consult with the Chair of the department during the junior year and to request special accommodations when submitting their senior thesis proposals.

Thesis students and their supervisors work together to prepare a research and writing plan, and meet regularly throughout the fall and winter terms. Thesis writers also attend a Senior Honors Seminar four times in the fall term and two in the winter, at which they read and discuss one another's thesis work.

Students must submit a full draft of the thesis by the sixth Monday of the winter term. This draft is read by two faculty members, appointed by the Chair, who are not the student's thesis supervisor. The student and these external readers meet by the ninth week of winter term to discuss the thesis. The external readers can insist on significant revisions before submission of the final product. Final versions of theses are submitted to the supervisor and external readers on the second Monday of spring term. Public defenses are scheduled for the last few weeks of the spring term. Thesis grades are determined by supervisors and external readers.

The final version of the thesis should be between 20,000 and 30,000 words long. Students must submit four bound copies of the thesis, one of which is printed on acid-free bond paper, to the department administrator by the last Monday of the spring term.

Go To: Listing of Philosophy Department Honors Theses