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History Honors

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

History Honors

History Honors 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 Application Information

Admission decisions are based on a student’s academic performance, background in history, demonstrated ability to write, and recommendations by faculty or GSI. To be considered for admission, students must have at least a 3.5 GPA in history courses and a 3.4 GPA overall, but high GPA alone does not guarantee admission. In exceptional cases, this rule may be waived.

The History Honors Application and all materials should be completed and submitted electronically using the email sent to all History Majors in September.

Applications are due Wednesday, October 20, 2021.

Please note:

  • The electronic application will automatically collect your name, uniqname, UMID, your History and overall GPA
  • The Honors Committee will review courses and grades so be sure to check the appropriate box in the application, granting permission to access your transcript
  • List any foreign languages in which you are you able to conduct research
  • Students unable to attend HISTORY 498, the junior year colloquium, will be asked to state the reason (for example, studying abroad)

In addition, we will require the following:

Recommendation Letter

You will need to request a letter of recommendation evaluating your work and preparation for undertaking an honors thesis. Keep in mind that your recommender will need a reasonable amount of time to compose a letter; we suggest you make the request at least 2 weeks in advance of the application deadline. The recommender can be from any department, though someone with a background in history can often write a stronger letter. A letter from a History GSI is acceptable if they know your work best. The letter does not need to be in any specific form and should be addressed to the History Honors Committee. You may begin the Honors Application to request a recommendation letter simply by adding their name and email address, even if you’re not ready to complete and submit the application. Recommenders will receive an email with a direct letter submission link specific to your application.

Statement of Research Interests

While good grades and a positive recommendation are a necessary part 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. In two double-spaced pages, please tell us about your experience doing research—describe what you learned from it, 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 a historical issue in some extended way. Other sorts of writing—e.g., literary criticism, fiction, book reviews, etc.—cannot be used as writing samples.

The Honors Committee meets in early November to consider all applications. Students are notified of the committee’s decision by mid-November and those accepted begin their training by taking HISTORY 498 during the upcoming winter term.

Admission to the program is limited. Specific questions should be directed to histhonors.questions@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.