Students pursuing distinction normally apply for a year-long senior honors seminar (HISTORY 495S/496S) in March of the junior year by submitting a research proposal and a faculty recommendation to the seminar director(s). Students may also prepare a thesis outside this sequence and talk to their advisors about developing other forms of thesis projects. Either way, most students begin their thesis research during the summer before the senior year, and all students pursuing distinction also work closely with a faculty thesis advisor, usually through an independent study each semester.
Thesis writers are expected to produce a well-written research essay substantially engaged with primary sources and engaged with ongoing historiographic conversations. Most theses run 80-120 pages. The department recognizes the most outstanding senior thesis of the year by awarding the William T. Laprade Prize.
To earn Graduation with Distinction a committee of at least three faculty must evaluate the thesis. The committee will determine the honors level of the thesis: Distinction, High Distinction or Highest Distinction.