Honors Projects

Under the direction of a faculty member with expertise in their chosen subject, students embark on an extensive research or writing project in the spring of their junior year, completing a substantive essay or piece of creative writing in the spring of their senior year.

Through undertaking an honors project, students become adept in an area of particular interest to them and experience the joys and tribulations of producing a serious, extensive, and original piece of writing.

Thesis Requirements

A student who has maintained an A/B average in the courses offered in the English major may decide to become an honors candidate and pursue in depth a topic of interest to them.

In the spring of their junior year, the honors candidate presents a definitive plan for their honors thesis to a department faculty member within whose field the project falls. Work begins in earnest in the fall semester of the student's senior year.

The honors advisor/project director signs the honors candidate's fall semester honors project/independent study form, and signs again for spring semester.

The honors work is graded and may count (at the 4000 level) as one or two of the elective course units required for the major.

The honors thesis must be a thorough and sophisticated literary essay growing out of:

  • a course paper, as an expansion of it (in which case it may do double duty only with the consent of the instructors involved)
  • an English course
  • an extension of an English course, or
  • a fresh subject not explored in another connection

Strict compliance with the directions for manuscript preparation specified by the library—where the original copy will be permanently filed—is required.

Students contemplating application to graduate school should be advised that honors, or even candidacy for honors, is a highly significant element of their record.


The registrar's office deadlines, requirements for honors, and honors project registration instructions can be found at Registrar: Honors Projects. The Bowdoin library's guidelines for formatting the finished honors project prior to submission, important deadlines, and support the library offers honors students can be found at Library: Services for Honors and Independent Study Students.   Below are procedures and a timeline specific to English honors. 

2022-23 DUE DATES

  • Honors prospectus due
    to project director, two readers, and coordinator:
    Thursday, October 13, 2022
    by 4:30 pm
  • Honors prospectus review
    with project director and two readers:
    Week of Monday, October 17
    though Friday, October 21, 2022
  • First chapter or section due
    to project director and two readers:
    Friday, December 9, 2022
    by 5:00 pm
  • Full draft due
    to project director and two readers:
    Monday, April 3, 2023
    by 5:00 pm
  • Defense draft due
    to project director, all three readers,
    and coordinator:
    Monday, May 1, 2023
    by 5:00 pm

  • Honors defenses
    with project director and three readers:
    Week of Monday, May 8
    through Friday, May 12 2023
  • Honors candidates upload theses
    to Bowdoin Digital Commons
    and complete Thesis Access and Embargo form: 
    Thursday, May 18, 2023
    by 5:00 pm

    Library submission guidelines

    Registrar's honors guidelines

  • Project directors must approve projects
    through Bowdoin Digital Commons:
    Friday, May 19, 2023
    by 2:00 pm