Skip to Content

Honors Program Requirements

Students who have meet the eligibility requirements for the Honors Program apply in the Fall of their junior year. Admitted students elect the Junior Honors Seminar in the following semester, and then the Senior Honors Seminar and Honors Thesis independent study courses during their senior year.

Given the interdisciplinary nature of Women’s Studies and Gender and Health, theses can take multiple forms; students will work with their faculty advisor to determine the appropriate method, length, and format of their thesis based on disciplinary norms. Students and their advisor should discuss and agree upon these expectations early in the program. 

Requirements

Eligibility

Women's Studies and Gender and Health majors who have maintained an overall G.P.A. of at least 3.4 and a G.P.A. of at least 3.5 in Women’s Studies courses (including prerequisites) may apply for honors. Students must demonstrate both the interest and capacity to carry out the comprehensive independent work required to complete an honors thesis.

Women's Studies applicants must have completed or plan to complete the following courses by the end of the their junior year: 

  • Women Studies 240: Introduction to Women’s Studies
  • Women's Studies 330: Feminist Thought

Gender and Health applicants must have completed or plan to complete the following courses by the end of their junior year: 

  • Women's Studies 220: Perspectives in Women's Health
  • Women's Studies 330: Feminist Thought or Women's Studies 331: Feminist Theoretical Perspectives in Gender and Health

Junior Honors Seminar

Students interested in writing an honors thesis normally take WS 389: Junior Honors Seminar in the winter term of their junior year.

This course, offered winter term only, is designed to help students to develop the research and analytical skills necessary to complete an honors thesis in Women’s Studies. Students learn about research methods, argument formulation, and standards of evidence in different disciplines. The course focuses on helping each student formulate a thesis topic, conduct a literature review, identify sources, and write a research proposal outlining the problem or hypothesis and research design for the thesis. Through individual meetings, the instructor assists each student in identifying an appropriate faculty member to advise the thesis research and writing during the junior and senior year. Students also read and comment on the research proposals of their peers in the class.

The Junior Honors Seminar is the only Women's Studies/Gender and Health honors thesis course that counts for the major. It may count as either an elective or for practicum credit.

Honors Thesis Independent Study

During the senior year, honors students register for Women's Studies 490/491: Honors Thesis in the Fall and Winter semesters, respectively.

In these independent study courses, students conduct the research and writing for the thesis under the close supervision of their primary faculty thesis advisor. At the beginning of the fall semester, the student should provide their faculty advisor with a plan of study that includes at least:

  • A research proposal
  • A list of research and writing goals for the fall semester
  • A research schedule indicating when and how the student will accomplish his/her research and writing goals, and
  • A preliminary bibliography

In Women's Studies 490, students receive a letter grade or a "Y" (work in progress) grade until the thesis is completed. In the case of a "Y" grade, the thesis advisor will submit a Supplemental Grade Report when the thesis is completed, providing a grade for Women's Studies 490.

Senior Honors Seminar

In the Fall and Winter semesters of their senior year, all honors students will register WS 441/442: Senior Honors Seminar I/II in the Fall and Winter semesters, respectively. 

This seminar will consist of biweekly meetings with the Director of Undergraduate Studies for all Women's Studies and Gender and Health honors students as a group. In this seminar, students will have an opportunity to think about and discuss issues related to conducting independent research. Seminar topics may include all aspects of conducting independent research such as writing a literature review, seeking Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, working with faculty advisors, collecting data, researching archives, and presenting research findings. This seminar is intended to provide students with support and guidance throughout the process of writing an honors thesis in their senior year. Additionally, students will prepare and practice their oral presentations for the Honors Colloquium in April.

Other Information

Study Abroad

Students interested in honors are advised not to study abroad in the Winter semester of their junior year, when the Junior Honors Seminar is offered. Students should instead study abroad during their sophomore year or in the fall of their junior year.

If students do plan to study abroad during the Winter semester of their junior year, however, two options allow them to complete an honors thesis. Students who plan early enough may apply to honors and take the Junior Honors Seminar in the Winter semester of their sophomore year. Additionally, students who plan to complete their thesis in two departments may take the honors research seminar in their other unit, in lieu of taking Women's Studies 389. 

Joint Thesis in Two Majors

A joint honors thesis is allowed for students who seek to pursue interdisciplinary work that bridges two departments, and allows them to learn the research methodology and theoretical frameworks of both fields which working closely with faculty in both departments. Honors students in Women's Studies who are pursuing an honors major in another department may submit a joint thesis for both majors, provided the project meets several conditions.

If you are interested in applying to write a joint thesis, please contact Donna Ainsworth for more information. 

Completing the Thesis

The honors thesis is due in early April. On or before the deadline, students must submit an electronic PDF copy of the thesis to their primary faculty advisor, the second reader, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and to wsp.advising@umich.edu. Students must also submit a bound paper copy to the Women's Studies main office. The cover page for the thesis should provide the student's name, thesis title, and primary advisor's name; the thesis itself should use 12 point font, standard margins, and consistent citation format. 

All honors theses are read by three faculty members: the student’s primary faculty thesis advisor, the second reader, and one faculty member from the Women’s Studies Undergraduate Committee. All three readers complete an evaluation form. The faculty members of the Undergraduate Committee determine the final honors designation of "Honors," "High Honors," or "Highest Honors" for each thesis. The Director of Undergraduate Studies will inform the student, the advisor, and the second reader of the honors notation awarded to the thesis. The student’s name, thesis title, and honors notation is then forwarded to the Honors Program.

The honors notation is recorded on the student's diploma and transcript. There will be no notation on the diploma or transcript if the student receives no honors.

The Second Reader

All theses are evaluated by a second reader, a faculty member chosen jointly by the student and thesis advisor by the end of Fall semester in the senior year. The second reader need not be affiliated with the Women's Studies department, but his or her area of expertise should be relevant to the thesis topic. The contribution of the second reader may vary, but the student should consult with the second reader while s/he is writing the thesis, and the second reader should comment on thesis drafts as well as contribute to the final evaluation of the thesis.

Exiting Honors

A student who is unable to complete the honors thesis must exit the Honors Program by informing the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The student will then be administratively transferred from Honors to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. There are no consequences for exiting the Honors Program. 

If the student is enrolled in Women's Studies 441/442 or Women's Studies 490/491, the work for those courses must either be completed or the student must withdraw from the course(s). 

If the student has enrolled in WS 441, WS 442, WS 490 and/or 491, the work for those courses must either be completed or the student must withdraw from the course(s).