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Honors Program

Class of 2019 History Honors Program students. (Photo: Sean Carter)

About the Program

The History Honors Program is designed for majors who want to do advanced research and write an extensive thesis on a topic of their choice under the direct supervision of a history professor.

The usual applicant is a first-term junior. To be considered for admission, students should have at least a 3.5 GPA in history courses and a 3.4 GPA overall, but a high GPA alone does not guarantee admission. In exceptional cases, the GPA rules may be waived.

Applicants do NOT need to have been a member of the LSA Honors Program, nor do they need to be planning on a career as professional historians.

Honors Admission Requirements

Admission to the program is limited. Decisions are based on a student’s academic record, background in history, demonstrated ability to write, and recommendations by faculty or GSIs. To be considered for admission, students must have at least a 3.5 GPA in history courses and a 3.4 GPA overall; high GPA alone does not guarantee admission. In exceptional cases, this rule may be waived. The selection committee will strive to ensure that many different topics, places, languages, and time periods are represented among those accepted. The results of the selection process are announced in mid-November, in time for those chosen to register for History 498 in the winter term.

History Honors Program Application Information


A link to the online History Honors Application is sent by email to all History Majors in early September. Beginning with the first day of fall term classes, the application may be accessed on this website. Applications are due on the Wednesday following the October Fall Study Break.

While good grades and a positive recommendation are necessary parts of a successful application, the research statement and the writing sample are the most important parts of the dossier because they show us how you think as an historian. A complete application consists of the following:

Recommendation letter. Please request a letter of recommendation evaluating your work and preparation for undertaking an honors thesis. The recommender can be from any department, though someone with a background in history can often write a stronger letter. If the person who knows your work best is a history GSI, his or her letter is acceptable. The letter does not need to be in any specific form, and should be addressed to the History Honors Committee. You will need to list your recommenders name and department on the electronic application. Please inform your recommender that letters should be sent by email to: historyhonors@umich.edu. Keep in mind that your recommender will need a reasonable amount of time to compose a letter.

**We suggest you contact your prospective recommender at least 2-3 weeks in advance of the application deadline.**

Statement of Research Interests. In two double-spaced pages, please tell us about your experience doing research. Describe what you learned from from your research and discuss in some detail a topic that you would like to pursue in your honors thesis. Although we recognize that, if admitted to the honors program, you may choose a different topic, we strongly recommend that you be as specific as possible in describing your current research interests. The more specific the statement of your interests, and the more convincing the demonstration of the feasibility of your research (access to primary sources, knowledge of the necessary languages, and so forth), the stronger your proposal will be.

Writing Sample. Select a writing sample that best exemplifies your work in history. Ideally, this will be a research paper (perhaps one written for a history course) of 8-15 double-spaced pages that preferably, but not necessarily, engages with primary sources. If you do not have such a paper, you may submit one that deals with history or an historical issue in some extended way.

The Statement of Research Interests and the Writing Sample will need to be uploaded to the online application as one pdf; combine these documents before beginning the electronic application process.

Specific questions should be directed to the History Honors Committee Chair (histhonorschair@umich.edu).

Help with Navigating the Libraries

Maura Seale is the dedicated History librarian, with special expertise in history, digital history, and digital humanities. She is happy to consult about research and resources.