The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu

Departmental Honors Program

Departmental Honors in History is an Advanced Scholarship track of Commonwealth Honors College (CHC). Students may complete Departmental Honors as part of the full CHC curriculum, which includes Honors General Studies, or they may complete Departmental Honors alone. To complete Departmental Honors, students who are not already CHC students must apply to the Honors Program.  

Upon graduation, students who successfully fulfill all of the requirements will have "Departmental Honors" stamped on their official academic transcript. 


Departmental honors students take at least two honors history classes, which are usually marked by H at the end of the number, and receive a grade of B or higher. One class can be any level. The other must be 300 or higher. Honors classes are small – often around 15 students – and they give you a chance to delve into a subject with other highly-motivated students. If you would like to arrange an Honors Colloquium or Honors Independent Study in conjunction with another course, speak with the professor who is teaching that course. 

Additionally, students must complete a two-semester senior thesis of about 50-80 pages, based on significant primary source material and engaged in historiography. In writing the thesis, students will work with two advisors of his or her choosing, a primary advisor with whom the student will meet on a regular basis and a second advisor.  

Read more about the Departmental Honors in History and requirements here. 

Why do Departmental Honors? 

Departmental honors allows you to explore a topic that really interests you, not just one determined by a class. This is what history is all about!  If you’re studying history, you should do research. If you’re thinking about graduate school, a thesis sets you apart. It shows that you’ve done in-depth independent research, and it helps you figure out if this is something you want to continue doing.  It also sets you apart for many jobs, by showing that you can take on a big project and see it through. 

Learn More 

For more information about History Departmental Honors, contact  Professor Daniel Gordon, Honors Program Director.The  Commonwealth Honors College website also has useful information. Please see theCourse Guide  for course descriptions.