Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois


English Honors Program

Departmental Honors

The English Honors Program offers special seminar courses and special senior year independent study options for English majors who have shown high skill and intensive interest in the study of literature and rhetoric. It brings some of the most able and committed students together with their peers in small classes that encourage more challenging study and often provide more opportunity for each student to join actively in class discussions.

English majors may join the program when they have completed three semesters of undergraduate work, achieved a minimum combined GPA of 3.33 both overall and in the English major, and taken at least three English literature courses, including ENGL 200 and either ENGL 300 or ENGL 301.  Although the beginning of one’s junior year is the ideal time to start the honors program, sophomores who have completed 200, 300 or 301, and at least one other American or British literature course may be eligible to begin the honors program early during their sophomore year second semester with permission from the director of the Honors Program. The latest time one may begin the honors program is during one’s second semester junior year. To complete the Honors Program in English, upon graduation, students must have successfully completed three honors seminars and an honors thesis under the rubric of English 391 (the Honors Independent Study), while continuing to maintain that 3.33 GPA.

English Honors Courses are small seminars, usually no larger than eighteen students. These courses are open to students in the English Honors Program and to other English majors who meet the Honors Program requirements of a GPA of 3.33 or above who can write well and do independent work in English. Honors seminars and tutorials count as advanced-level courses and may be used to meet the LAS Advanced Hours requirement.

  • To complete the Honors Program, students must complete three honors seminars and complete an Honors Thesis (a one-semester project, English 391).

  • For more information about how to sign up for an honors seminar, see this handout on The English Honors Program.

  • The English Honors Thesis is a scholarly and critical essay of 20-25 pages, written for English 391 (Honors Independent Study Tutorial). The thesis will be evaluated by the thesis director and by two other faculty readers selected by the director and the student.

  • To graduate with Distinction in English, a student must complete the honors thesis. Levels of distinction will be decided by the Honors Advising Committee, which will consider a student's overall GPA, record in honors seminars and English courses, and the recommendations of the readers of the honors thesis. Distinction is normally awarded for a GPA of 3.33, meritorious work in the honors seminars and English courses, and an honors thesis of merit (two out of three readers recommend Distinction). High Distinction is normally awarded for a GPA of 3.5, meritorious work in the honors seminars and English courses, and an honors thesis of superior merit (two out of three readers recommend High Distinction).

For more information, please see the following handouts:

Questions? See Angela Smith, 200 English Building, or email Professor Dale Bauer, Director of the Honors Program.