As a History major, have you ever wondered what the Senior Seminar/Capstone is?  Perhaps you have thought you might want to pursue an honors project but were unsure how to proceed.

Below students will find fuller descriptions of the Senior Capstone and History Honors opportunities.  While this should give the student helpful information to begin thinking and planning, it is strongly recommended that students consult with the faculty for additional guidance.

The History Department capstone is a two-semester experience (HIST 4000-4001).  In the first semester, students take a course which gives an overview of the historical period or topic.  During this semester, students identify a research question and create a preliminary bibliography of sources.  Then in the second semester, they research their topic, write a 20-page research paper, and give a 20-minute formal presentation on their research to faculty, students, and others of the PC community.  The formal presentation includes a Q&A period from the audience.  For additional assistance, the department recommends students familiarize themselves with ‘Guidelines for Effective Historical Research’ found on the department’s website.

It is the faculty’s recommendation that a student plan to start his/her capstone in the junior year, but obviously no later than the fall of the senior year.  Students should consult the list of proposed classes on the department’s website for upcoming capstones.  The capstone that a student takes may not fall within the area or time of history preferred by the student, but the way the capstones are structured prepares the student for completing the requirement even though they might be less familiar with the topic.  Students are also advised to attend senior capstone presentations that occur at the end of most semesters.  This will give to them a sense of the scope of the project and the presentation experience.

The History Department offers an honors program to those students who have an overall GPA of 3.20 and a GPA of 3.40 in all major courses.  Honors is reserved for juniors and seniors, and the department does not recommend that a student try to do an honors project in the same semester he/she does the capstone.  A student may take a minimum of 3 hours of honors credit and a maximum of 6 hours, though history honors is usually 3 credit hours.  Upon successful completion of the honors project, the achievement will be reflected on the student’s transcript, the graduation program, and the diploma.

An honors project is begun when a student determines the general area in which the research will take place and asks the department member most closely associated with that time period to assist him/her.  After consultation with the faculty member, the student will prepare a prospectus that provides some historical context, articulates a clear research question, and includes a preliminary bibliography of sources likely to assist in answering the question.

The prospectus will be submitted to the department faculty in the first week of classes (before the end of registration), and the student will make a brief presentation of the project, followed by a time of question-and-answer from the faculty.  This is designed to help the student sharpen his/her project and address any concerns that the faculty may have.  Upon approval, the student may begin research.

An honors project is the only grade a student can earn that is awarded by the department faculty rather than an individual professor.  In order to earn that distinction, the student’s honors project will have the following characteristics:

  1. 10 pages of written text for every credit hour sought, plus notes and bibliography
  2. A historiographical section which places the student’s research within current historiography
  3. Where possible, primary sources will be the basis for the answer to the research question
  4. An oral defense/presentation of the student’s research project

One week prior to the presentation, the student will submit a final copy of the paper to the department faculty for their review.

If an honors project does not meet the expectations of the department faculty, it will be delegated to the supervising faculty member to grade it for directed study credit (HIST 4005).