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The Honors program of Emory College allows exceptionally talented students to pursue rigorous scholarly projects under the close supervision of a faculty sponsor. For most students who complete the Honors program, their project becomes their proudest achievement at Emory.

For Prospective Honors Students


Are you considering standing for honors?

We encourage you to meet with the DUS about standing for honors. If you meet the required GPA of 3.5, please contact the DUS about scheduling a meeting.
You should also carefully review the College Honors Program (CHP) website, including FAQs. More information is outlined below.

What are the components of the Honors program?

There are three main components to the Honors program in addition to meeting the IDS/AMST major requirements listed on pages 3-6 of the handbook. You should consider carefully the significant additional work required by these components:
  1. a graduate seminar in any discipline approved by your adviser and by the ILA’s director of undergraduate studies (DUS); you must earns a grade of B or better in this course

  2. completion of your senior project according to all deadlines and requirements set by the Honors program, including a formal oral defense

  3. the oral defense takes place before a committee of three faculty (at least one from the ILA and at least one from outside the ILA) all of whom must agree to serve on the student’s committee

In addition to these components, there are a number of meetings and other events administered by Emory College for all Honors students. You will receive information about this after you enroll in the program. You must abide by all Emory College Honors regulations in order to remain in the program.

When is the deadline for honors?

The deadline for indicating to the DUS your intention to stand for Honors is spring of junior year. The deadline for students graduating in Spring 2021 is May 8, 2020.

What are the requirements?

An honors thesis is an independent research project. You must plan and carry out your research in consultation with faculty. You are responsible for meeting with faculty and seeking appropriate feedback.
The final paper for the fall Senior Seminar makes up part of the thesis, but the Senior Seminar covers other content and is not primarily focused on writing of the thesis.
The Honors program requirements in the College and/or ILA are:
  • a minimum GPA of 3.5 (waiver petition considered in exceptional cases for GPA ≥ 3.45)

  • completion of one graduate course or the ILA Proseminar (with grade of B or better)

  • following strict deadlines for the process:
    • final electronic submission (no exceptions; date in mid-April)
    • oral defense (scheduled in advance of final submission, in case changes are needed)
    • draft to committee 10 days before defense
    • regular meetings with advisor(s) and committee members leading up to defense

  • a completed honors thesis of 50-70 written pages. (The nonhonors ILA senior thesis - the “capstone” thesis - is 30-50 pages.) The honors thesis is more rigorous and must meet higher standards than a class term paper. The degree of honors is roughly:
    • honors is roughly an A
    • high honors is roughly an A+ and presentable at a professional conference
    • highest honors is publishable and rare among successful ILA

  • creative scholarship (e.g., performance, visual art, film) can form part of the honors thesis, with approval of the student’s thesis committee

  • presentation at the ILA Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium at the end of the spring semester. In Spring 2021, the symposium is on May 4, 2021

  • registration for at least one credit in AMST 495 or IDS 495 in your final semester—governed by ILA guidelines for research credit

What is the process?

For a more detailed timeline, please see the Honors Cycle section on the bottom of this page.
Spring of Junior Year: Send intention to stand for honors in writing by (email) to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). A reminder email will be sent to prompt you.

December of Senior Year: Honors candidates will receive a recommendation (green, yellow, or red light) from the instructor of the ILA Senior Seminar about whether the honors project is on track as of December. In some cases, the ILA Undergraduate Committee may be consulted as part of this recommendation.

January of Senior Year:Honors candidates must submit names of their faculty committee members (typically three, with at least one from the ILA and at least one from a department other than the ILA) to the College Honors Program (CHP) ec.honorsprogram@emory.edu by January of senior year. Email agreements from committee members must come before to submitting their names. The CHP website outlines rules for which faculty qualify to serve on committee.

How can you petition the GPA requirement?

If you have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.45 you may petition to waive the 3.6 minimumrequirement. The deadline to petition for Spring 2021 is August 17, 2020.
To complete a petition, the following should be sent to ec.honorsprogram@emory.edu before the deadline:

  1. A solid letter written by the students outlining why they should be admitted, the kind of work/research they want to do, why their GPA is lower than 3.5, and any other pertinent information
  2. A strong letter of support from the student's potential thesis advisor
  3. A strong letter of support from the student's faculty honors coordinator or department chair
  4. A copy of their unofficial transcript (which the Honors Program Administrator will pull from OPUS)

For Current Honors Students

As an honors student, you are responsible for meeting the requirements and completing the necessary steps outlined below.
Carefully review the processes outlined below and the Honors Cycle which outlines the steps in the timeline. If you have questions, please contact the DUS or the undergraduate program coordinator.

Oral Defense of the Honors Thesis

The purpose of the oral defense is to allow faculty committee members to examine, challenge, or seek clarification about your thesis.
The level of honors is determined by the committee immediately following the oral defense.
The committee may ask for revisions, and the attainment of honors may be contingent upon completion of requested revisions before the CHP deadline.
Review the following guidelines with your advisor (chair), who may want to make specific alterations.
  • Duration:The approximate duration of the oral defense is 90 minutes:
    • 10 minutes: student remarks
    • 45 minutes: faculty questions
    • 10 minutes: faculty deliberations (student and others asked to leave room)
    • 10 minutes: student called back in for announcement regarding honors and, if awarded, the level of honors

  • Open to the public, but only faculty ask questions (unless the chair opens the floor to others).

  • Student remarks should not summarize the thesis—assume that the faculty committee has already read the thesis. Instead, put the thesis in a broader context: what has the thesis accomplished? What new questions does the thesis raise? What are the next directions of this research? What weaknesses do you feel the thesis has? How would you address any such weaknesses?

  • A PowerPoint presentation is optional, but not expected. Again, the focus of the defense is faculty questions, and these are often best introduced through oral comment, based on notes or read from a prepared text. A PowerPoint might be appropriate if images are integral to the discussion, for example.

  • Schedule defense date By no later than January 31, set the date of the oral defense by emailing your faculty committee. Contact undergraduate program coordinator for assistance in booking a room once the defense date is set. If you your defense is taking place over Zoom, schedule a Zoom meeting by logging into Zoom through SSO with your Emory NetID (instructions) and email the details to the committee members.

Complete the following steps after your defense:

  1. Immediately after your defense,have your committee sign the Honors Examination Report form. Submit this form via Canvas no later than the April 9, 2021, deadline.

  2. Submit your penultimate thesis draft to the undergraduate program coordinator via e-mail. This becomes part of your student record in the ILA. Please note that this is not the ETD submission, which is a seperate process (see below).

  3. Submit your penultimate thesis draft to the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Repository by April 13, 2021. Written and audio/video instructions for this are available in Canvas.

Honors Cycle


By When?

What do I need to do?

Junior Year - Spring Semester


Indicate interest in Honors Program to instructor of required IDS 390.


Reply to email from DUS/Undergrad Program Coordinator asking whether you intend to stand for honors.


**If GPA is 3.45–3.5, inform DUS and get information about waiver of GPA requirement petition procedure; meet with DUS and review waiver petition information on CHP website. 


**If GPA is 3.45–3.5, prepare GPA waiver petition, including request for letter from DUS and other relevant faculty.

Senior Year - Fall semester

Mid-August before

August 17, 2020

GPA waiver petition due (check date with CHP); CHP ruling usually within days.

Week before classes begin

August 26, 2020

ILA submits roster of Honors Program candidates (due date set by CHP); candidates begin receiving information directly from the Honors Program.

    Optional: register for IDS 495 Honors Research—note: you must register for at least one credit (and commonly 3 credits) of IDS 495 in your final semester.

    For each semester of IDS 495 credit, submit a research overview. Be sure to review the guidelines for research credit in the ILA.

Fall semester

Check in at least monthly with your advisor/chair, more often if registered for IDS 495 Honors Research.


Register for at least one credit (commonly 3) of IDS 495 Honors Research in spring of senior year if graduating in May.

End of fall semester

The final paper (20-25 pages) for AMST 490/IDS 491 Senior Seminar (core course) is part of the honors thesis; the instructor of the Senior Seminar gives red, yellow, or green light as indication of prospects for Honors Program, in addition to suggestions for specific revisions.

Senior Year - Spring Semester

First day of classes

Submit to DUS a one-page overview of IDS 495, indicating anticipated dates or regularity of meetings with advisor/ chair and other committee members. Be sure to review the guidelines for research credit in the ILA.


Submit names of faculty committee to the CHP (watch for deadline announced by DUS).


Late January

Email committee to set date of oral defense; date should be at least one week before CHP submission deadline—generally last week of March or first week of April.

Late January

Coordinate with the undergraduate program coordinator to reserve room for your scheduled oral defense.

Across spring semester

Meet regularly with your advisor/chair and, at advisor/chair's advice, communicate or meet with other committee members.

7-10 days before defense

Email penultimate draft, formatted according to CHP guidelines, to your honors thesis committee.

Last week of March–first week of April

Oral defense. Be sure to bring, and have your committee sign, the Honors Form. Submit this form via Canvas no later than the April 9, 2021, deadline.

Submit your penultimate thesis draft to the undergraduate program coordinator for your student records. Please note that this is not the ETD submission, which is a seperate process (see below).

April 9, 2021

Honors Forms Deadline  - Students will be able to submit their forms through Canvas.

April 13, 2021

Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Repository - Submission Deadline.

Written and audio/video instructions for this are available in Canvas.

Sunday before graduation date (usually Mother’s Day)

Honors ceremony in Glenn Memorial chapel (limited tickets for family of Honors recipients).


 Wear honors fouragère proudly to graduation.