Skip to main content

The independent honors thesis is typically a work of literary or rhetorical criticism or research (about 50 pages in length). A project is typically a collection of poems, stories, or nonfiction writing, or some combination of these.

Students interested in creative writing should be aware that it is often difficult to find faculty to chair an independent creative project. Therefore, planning for Foundations and Departures in Creative Writing (see below) is often the best option for those with a strong creative writing interest. Since the course is competitive and admission is not guaranteed, having a fallback plan, such as an idea for a thesis, is strongly encouraged.

For more information about honors coursework and requirements, contact the Honors Program Director, Janis Greve, in E345 South College or call 413-545-5464. You can also email her at

Assembling your committee

  • Theses and projects are written under the supervision of at least two faculty members. Typically, both committee members are faculty (not graduate students) of the English department, although one member may be faculty from another department.
  • The chairperson of the committee must be a faculty member from the English Department.
  • During the second semester of the junior year, the student pursuing Departmental Honors should again meet with the Honors Program Director to begin identifying a faculty member to work with. It is the student's responsibility to initiate this meeting with the Honors Program Director and then to approach faculty.

Proposing and completing your thesis or project

  • To begin the thesis or project work, an initial thesis proposal (499 Y) must be submitted through CHC Paths in April or May of the student’s junior year.
  • To complete the second semester of the thesis or project (499 T/P), a more developed proposal must be submitted by November or December of the senior year, also via CHC Paths.
  • Throughout the senior year, the student will work especially closely with the committee chair, meeting regularly to discuss research, drafts, and revision. At the end of the year, the committee will conduct an oral exam and award a final grade.

The course option: Foundations and Departures in Creative Writing English 499C/D

A good choice for students with a creative writing background and a desire to conduct their project in a supportive workshop environment, this is a multi-genre, two-semester course in creative writing that allows students to work within the genre of their choice. Both a class in contemporary literature and a writing workshop, Foundations and Departures offers students a wide variety of reading assignments and writing exercises from across all three genres. At the end of the first semester students will submit a portfolio of original work; in the second semester students will finish drafting and revising their Capstone projects.

Admission to the course is by permission of the instructor and requires both a personal statement and a sampling of writing. Registration for 499 Y and 499 P is done within the course itself. For questions, contact John Hennessy at @email.

Completed Theses