Honors Program

The Linguistics department offers an honors option for seniors, which includes a two-semester sequence of honors thesis research, culminating in an honors thesis, in addition to the regular Linguistics degree requirements.


Eligibility for the honors program will normally be determined after junior year. To qualify, a student must have a GPA of 3.5 or better in linguistics courses through the end of their junior year. In addition, they must have taken, or be able to take in their senior year,  four credit hours of advanced coursework in two of the three areas below (for a total of eight hours):

  • Syntax: LING 260, 261, 262
  • Phonetics/Phonology: LING 227
  • Semantics/Pragmatics: LING 265 (or 266, if taken 2010-2011 or later)

A word of warning: although the advanced coursework requirement can be satisfied in senior year, the advanced courses listed above are not all offered every year, so you should not defer a particular course to your last year without verifying that it will be available then.

If a student meets the above minimum requirements, the next step is to find a faculty member who is willing to serve as thesis advisor.

Faculty Advisor

The appropriate choice of advisor depends largely on the topic area, so it is important to settle on that early in the process.

The linguistics faculty must approve all honors projects. To obtain this approval, at the start of the fall semester of senior year, the student should work with their thesis advisor to write up a short description (a few sentences) identifying the topic and research plan in general terms. Students should not whether or not they have satisfied the advanced coursework requirements. If they haven't completed the coursework students should also include their plans to satisfy it should be included.

The thesis advisor will then present this information to the faculty for approval.

Admission to Honors

Once admitted to the honors program, students are expected to take eight credit hours of LING 393, normally over fall and spring of senior year.

At the end of fall semester, the student should be able to show substantial progress, usually in the form of a draft of a portion of the thesis and/or significant data collection and analysis. Enrollment in LING 393 for the spring term is contingent on the thesis advisor’s approval, given what was accomplished in the fall term.


The thesis is a research project that you undertake on a topic of interest to you. The fall term is spent preparing for the writing of the thesis, reading and building a bibliography. You'll meet weekly with your advisor to plan your program of research and proceed with readings.

The completed thesis is presented in April of your senior year. Your advisor will work with you, read a draft of the thesis giving you feedback to be incorporated in the final version. For this to happen, plan to have a draft of your thesis by the start of spring break. Ideally you hand it over to your advisor and take a real break, reserving April for revisions.

In general, aim to finish the final draft no later than the last day of classes. Your advisor may specify other critical dates, and also must approve the final version. In late April you will be scheduled to give a presentation to the linguistics department to summarize your results.


Requirements and milestones are summarized below:

  • End of junior year:
    • GPA of 3.5+ in LING courses
    • Eight credits of advanced coursework either completed or planned for senior year
  • Beginning of senior year:
    • Sponsored by faculty member who will direct thesis.
    • Approved for honors program by LING faculty
  • Fall term senior year:
    • Enrolled for four credits LING 393
    • Substantial progress made by end of term
  • Spring term senior year:
    • Enrolled for four credits LING 393
    • Draft submitted to advisor by start of spring break
    • Complete thesis, judged acceptable by thesis director, submitted by end of term
    • Department presentation