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Honors Program

The Department of American Studies Honors Program provides academically motivated students the opportunity to take their degree to the next level.

The American studies Honors Program offers outstanding students an opportunity to add distinction to their academic records by undertaking an independent research project in an area of particular interest to them.

The program is intended to allow students preparing for graduate study or a professional career to apply and further develop their research, analytic and writing skills in an independent project of their own design, in consultation with a member of the regular faculty. Students pursuing honors are encouraged to make use of the rich resources of the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area, including major research institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress and the National Archives.

Students fulfill the honors program requirements through a combination of honors-designated coursework (6 credit hours) and an honors thesis (6 credit hours). These courses and credits fall within both the American studies major requirements and the university’s 120-credit undergraduate degree requirement. Students who undertake American studies honors are excused from the senior seminar, AMST450.


Students must have at least a cumulative 3.0 GPA at the time of entry into the program and must maintain a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 to remain in good standing. To graduate with honors in American studies, students must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.2 in their major coursework and successfully defend an honors thesis.


Students who wish to pursue honors work should submit a letter of intent to the director of undergraduate studies prior to registration for the semester in which they intend to begin honors coursework. The letter should identify the core faculty member who has agreed to approve their course work and supervise the research and writing of the honors thesis.


The honors program gives students a substantial amount of flexibility in fulfilling the two basic requirements: 6 credit hours of honors-designated coursework and 6 credit hours of AMST388: “Honors Thesis and Research.”

To fulfill the coursework requirements (6 credit hours), students may:

  • Convert an upper-level AMST course to AMST418H using a departmental honors contract.
  • Negotiate an honors option contract with the instructor of an upper-level course in a department consonant with the student’s thesis subject.
  • Take an upper-level university honors course.
  • Take a graduate course in AMST or in a department consonant with the student’s thesis subject.

To fulfill the thesis requirements, students will:

  • Register for 3 credit hours of AMST388: “Honors Thesis and Research” in their final two semesters.
  • Defend their completed thesis before a committee composed of their faculty mentor and another department faculty member. At the satisfactory conclusion of the thesis presentation, the committee will notify the director of undergraduate studies that the thesis has been read, evaluated and approved. The director of undergraduate studies will then notify the University Honors Program director of the successful completion of the individual honors degree program.

Students interested in pursuing departmental honors should apply to the program prior to registration for the semester in which they will begin honors coursework. Students with less than one full year (12 months) remaining before graduation are not eligible to apply for the honors program.

To apply, send a letter of interest and copy of your unofficial transcript to Dr. Ali. 

The letter should include your reasons for pursuing departmental honors and the name of a member of the American studies faculty who has agreed to work with you.

If you have any questions about the program or your eligibility, please contact Dr. Ali.