The honors program in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is open to majors who have strong academic records. Students who have maintained an overall cumulative 3.65 grade point average through 5 semesters and have at least a 3.65 in the WGS major may be considered for honors. Students writing honors theses must take Feminist Research Methods. It’s preferable to take it prior to senior year, but it may be taken concurrently while writing the thesis.
Selection of Primary Thesis Director
The student is responsible for finding a primary honors thesis director from among the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies faculty and associated faculty. In selecting the thesis director, the student should be attentive to the research interests and areas of expertise represented by the faculty and select the individual whose expertise most closely relates to the student’s proposed thesis topic. The student must obtain the consent of the faculty member. (Students should note that faculty members periodically take leaves of absence and may not be available during the semester when the student intends to complete the thesis). Students must also find two other faculty members to agree to be on their honors committee. These readers will serve in an advisory role during the thesis-writing process and evaluate the thesis. At least two of the three members of the thesis committee must be WGSS-core or WGSS-affiliated faculty.
Students should discuss their plans with their proposed thesis directors early, preferably in the fall of their junior year. Early planning is especially important if the student is going abroad second semester junior year. Since deadlines are critical, it would be advisable to set up a schedule with a director in order to ensure that deadlines are met.
Applying to the Honors Program
Application to the program must be made by April 1 of the junior year (no late applications will be accepted). An application consists of a one-page application form, 3-4-page thesis proposal, 1-2-page bibliography, and current (unofficial) student transcript.
- Application: The application form includes the following information: name and signature of the faculty director who has agreed to supervise the thesis. Also required are the names and signatures of two faculty members who have agreed to be readers of the completed thesis. Click to download
- Proposal: The proposal should be 3-4 pages, double-spaced. It should outline the central issues or problem to be investigated during work on the thesis. The proposal should contain the following:
• brief overview of the topic
• clearly stated research question(s)
• method(s) to be used
• timetable for the project
• an acknowledgement of whether IRB approval will be needed and when you plan to submit that application
** Students should consult with their thesis director while working on the draft of the proposal.
- Bibliography: 1-2-page preliminary bibliography
- Student transcript; Copy of the student (unofficial) transcript (printed out from WEBSTAC).
*Please note that these items may be submitted via e-mail if the student is abroad.
**Any work that involves human subjects, whether interviews, surveys, testing, etc., may require application to and approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Students planning to use human-subject research done abroad must have received prior IRB approval from Washington University for this material to be used in the honors thesis. If applicable, make sure to include this process in your proposal and in your timetable. IRB applications must be submitted by May 1. IRB approval must be obtained by September 1, or the honors project cannot continue.
All honors proposals will be reviewed by the WGSS Honors Thesis Committee. Students will be notified of their acceptance or rejection no later than April 30. Students may be asked to rewrite and resubmit their proposals.
Accepted students should register for WGSS 499 (Honors Thesis: Research and Writing) in the fall; with approval from the thesis director at the end of fall semester, students will be able to register for WGSS 499 for the spring.
a. An honors thesis is an original work. Most final theses will be in the range of 50-70 pages, typed, and double-spaced, including bibliography; however, the specific length of the project should be determined in consultation with the thesis director.
b. Work should begin on the honors thesis in the summer before senior year. Thesis directors and students should consult to devise a reading list or other plan for preliminary research to take place before fall semester.
c. Frequent meetings with the thesis director should take place during both the research and the writing part of the thesis. Weekly meetings are customary.
d. The thesis director will counsel students on research process, analysis and argument, and presentation. The thesis director will also read drafts and make suggestions on revisions.
e. While students work most closely with their thesis director, the two readers are available for consultation. For the sake of continuity, discussions between readers and student should also be communicated to the thesis director.
f. The introduction should explain the topic/state the research question and clearly state the thesis. The student should conduct and write a literature review. This task consists of surveying the literature to review existing research about the topic and then situating the thesis work within this scholarship.
g. The thesis should be written in a clear, concise fashion, as a double-spaced, typed document. It should have a cover page with the title, student’s name, the month and year, and the names of the thesis director and second readers.
h. For footnotes and sources, students should use the style and format that is appropriate for the subject; students should check with their thesis director to ascertain what format to use.
i. A preliminary full draft must be submitted by February 1 to the thesis director. The director should provide suggestions for revision to the student preferably by February 15.
j. A final draft, one that has been evaluated, revised, and approved by the thesis director, must be finished by March 1 and copies given to the thesis committee.
k. After the thesis has been turned in and evaluated by the student’s committee, minor revisions can be made. The revised thesis should be printed and spiral bound and a copy given to the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program by April 30.
l. Please remember that doing an honors thesis is demanding and takes a great deal of time and effort. It is strongly recommended that the student develop a schedule, in consultation with the thesis director, for the research and the completion of the thesis so that deadlines set by the program and the College can be met
Evaluation of the Thesis and How Honors are Determined
1. The thesis committee (director and two readers) will review the thesis and if the committee determines that the work earns an A or A-, they will recommend that the student receives Latin Honors.
2. Levels of Latin honors are determined by GPA and are based on those seniors participating in the honors program in the College of Arts and Sciences. Latin honors will be calculated once spring grades for the eighth semester are submitted, and the breakdown is as follows
Top 15% GPA: summa cum laude
Next 35% GPA: magna cum laude
Remaining 50%: cum laude
3. If the honors thesis, as evaluated by the three-member thesis committee, does not warrant an A or A- the student will not receive Latin Honors.
Other Requirements for Honors
a. Publication of abstract in Washington University Senior Honors Thesis Abstracts
In March, semester, students must submit a 250-300 word abstract to the Undergraduate Research Office for publication in Washington University Senior Honors Thesis Abstracts(WUSHTA), which will be available at graduation. Abstracts should be reviewed by the thesis director before submission.
b. Participation in the spring Undergraduate Research Symposium
All honors thesis students are required to present their work in the Undergraduate Research Symposium. The Undergraduate Research Symposium takes place on a Saturday in April. You must register in March to participate.
The research posters must be dropped off at the WGSS Office within one week of the symposium.
c. Presentation of honors thesis results to WGSS faculty and students
During the first Monday of reading week, students will be expected to give a 10-minute presentation of their honors thesis.
The abstract, research symposium, and honors presentation are requirements that must be completed in order to receive Latin honors.
Junior year: April 1: Completed applications due
April 30: Students notified of acceptance. IRB application (if required) must be submitted. Approved students must meet with thesis director to determine summer reading list and agree on work that will be completed by fall semester. May 1 IRB application submission
September 1 IRB approval (when applicable) must be secured by this date, or honors may not proceed.
December 15: Literature review must be complete and submitted to honors thesis director. The fall grade is largely dependent on achieving this goal. Other chapters should be well underway.
February 1: Completed draft due for thesis director
March 1: Revised draft due for thesis committee
By April 1: Recommendations for honors made
Before March 31: Submit abstract to Undergraduate Research Office
Before March 31: Sign up for Undergraduate Research Fair
April: Participate in Undergraduate Research Fair
May: Present honors work to WGSS faculty, students, and public