Achievement of honors in History requires researching and writing a thesis that is judged in a blind review by two History faculty. In other words, one's honors thesis advisor does not decide whether or not one's thesis is awarded honors, but the guidance of a thesis advisor is nonetheless essential to a successful thesis.

Selection of a Thesis Advisor

A student interested in pursuing honors should approach History faculty member with interest or expertise in the topic the student would like to research. Go to the faculty member's office hours and discuss the possibility of the faculty member serving as the thesis advisor. If the faculty member cannot serve as an advisor--for instance, because the professor is going to be on leave--ask for suggestions as to who else may be able to serve as an advisor and approach these other faculty.

  • Keep in mind that many History faculty will agree to advise only those students who have previously taken a class with them or, possibly, are currently taking a class with them. 

Honors Coursework

Honors is normally a three-semester sequential "History Honors Workshop." ​All courses in the sequence will be offered every semester, so that students may begin the process with HIST 1992 in either their 5th  or 6th semesters. We encourage students who are going abroad during their 6th semester to take HIST 1992 in semester 5, to prepare them for research in foreign archives.  Seniors may complete their theses in either semester 7 or semester 8.

HIST 1992, “History Honors Workshop for Prospective Thesis Writers”  
  • HIST 1992 may count as one of the 10 courses required for graduation in History--whether or not student enrolls and completes HIST 1993 and/or HIST 1994.
  • No special permission is necessary to enroll in the class.
  • As the normal entry to the Honors program, it is recommended, not required. (See below under "Prospectus" for instructions on those who skip 1992).
  • We encourage you to enroll in HIST 1992 to work through the steps of defining and framing a thesis and writing a prospectus. It will also help you identify and build a relationship with an advisor.
HIST 1993 “History Honors Workshop for Thesis Writers, I"
  • HIST 1993 cannot count towards one of the 10 courses needed to fulfill concentration requirements.
  • In order to participate in HIST 1993 students must be History concentrators, have the consent of an advisor from the History Department, and fulfill requirements for admission to the Honors program. (See below)
  • HIST 1993 requires students at the beginning of the thesis process to research, write, and present their work-in-progress in mid-semester. 
  • HIST 1993-HIST 1994 are graded as a year-long course. Students receive either an S/NC as a placeholder for HIST 1993, which becomes the grade that they receive for HIST 1994 with the completion of the thesis.
  • A student may opt to take HIST 1993 for a grade, but it is not in the student's best interest since the grade is only a progress report by the advisor and the DUS. Two external readers will determine whether or not the student earns honors after completing the thesis.
  • If a student decides not to continue with HIST 1994, then the student may petition to History Department to have HIST 1993 converted into a HIST 1990 (an independent study), usually with the advisor.
HIST 1994 “History Honors Workshop for Thesis Writers, II”
  • HIST 1994 cannot count towards one of the 10 courses needed to fulfill concentration requirements.
  • Students in HIST 1994 work independently to complete the thesis. They join the Workshop only at the end of the semester to present their work.
  • HIST 1993-HIST 1994 are graded as a year-long course. The grade students receive in HIST 1994 also becomes the grade for HIST 1993.
  • The grade received in HIST 1993-HIST 1994 is determined by the advisor and the Honors Workshop instructor. It is related to, but independent from the final assessment as to whether the thesis receives departmental honors.

Admission into the Honors Program

Students must be admitted to the Honors program in order to enroll for HIST 1993. The DUS will determine admission to the Honors program by ensuring the student fulfills the following requirements:

Quality Grades 

  • Students must have achieved two-thirds “quality grades” in History department courses. A “quality grade” is defined as a grade of “A” or a grade of “S” accompanied by a course performance report indicating a performance at the “A” standard.


  • Students must write a prospectus outlining a viable honors thesis topic and research plan. Please look at Prospectus Writing Tips.
  • Students can fulfill the requirement for a prospectus in one of three ways.
  1. By completing HIST 1992 with a grade of A (or an S grade with a course performance report indicating achievement at the A level) 
  2. By completing HIST 1992 with a grade of B, but demonstrating improvement over the original prospectus to the History professor serving as thesis advisor and Director of Undergraduate Studies by the first day of their 7th semester 
  3. By writing a prospectus independently--without taking HIST 1992--and submitting it to the History professor serving as the thesis advisor and the DUS no later than the first day of their 7th semester. If it is graded at A- or above it will fulfill the requirement. This method of entry into HIST 1993 is geared especially, but not limited to, students who have spent their junior year away from Brown. Students entering the program in their 7th semester must demonstrate progress in a primary source archive.

Submitting a Completed Thesis

Due Date  
  • Three copies of the thesis must be submitted to the History Department by 4:00 p.m. on the due date.
  • No extensions of the due date can be made.  If a thesis is turned in late but before the end of the term, credit and grade for HIST 1993 may still be granted.
  • Thesis due date is usually two weeks before the start of Reading Period.
Printing, Binding, and Notes 
  • The thesis should be double sided and double spaced.
  • Two copies must be must be suitably bound (spiral binding is recommended) by a professional service. 
  • Submit one pdf copy to the DUS and upload to the Brown Digital Depository.
  • Include footnotes, not endnotes.
  • Include a bibliography.  
  • Citations must adhere to the Chicago Style
Title Page, centered text
  • [Title of Thesis]
  • By
  • [Your name]
  • Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts
  • In the Department of History at Brown University
  • Thesis Advisor:  [Name of your advisor]
  • [Date]
  • ​​Each thesis will be evaluated by two History faculty chosen by the DUS and who are not the advisor of the thesis. 
  • The faculty will evaluate the thesis based on this rubric.
  • The ideal is that one reader has some expertise in the area. If students are aware of faculty who would be particularly well qualified readers of their theses, they may suggest them to the DUS.
  • This must be done at least two weeks before the thesis deadline.
  • The DUS is receptive to these requests, but cannot guarantee that they will be honored.

History Department theses are subject to the principles of the Brown University Academic Code. The Academic Code may be found here.

Research Support

The Department is able to offer modest support to Honors Students to defray expenses of research in off-campus archives. Contact the Honors Advisor, normally the DUS, for information.