We encourage the students interested in in-depth independent research on a topic of their choice to pursue the honors program and write a thesis. The topic must be related to an aspect of Germanophone culture (broadly conceived), and must have viable support of a faculty advisor in the department. Most students who pursue honors get ideas from our classes, study abroad programs, or professional opportunities in Germany.
Why pursue honors?
Researching and writing an honors thesis is a formative experience and an ideal capstone to your studies. To employers, an honors thesis signals independence, creativity, analytical ability, and depth. To graduate school admissions committees, it signals seriousness, motivation, ability to carry out research and writing over an extended length of time, and receptivity to feedback.
The work on the thesis begins in late spring of the junior year and continues through the senior year as described below. Students writing a thesis should aim for a final draft that is 30-40 pages long.
Contact the advisor with whom you would like to work (check the faculty page on the German Studies website to get a good sense of the different areas of expertise and faculty research profiles) and determine a possible topic by May 15. Usually, students need only one advisor, unless the thesis involves substantial interdisciplinary work or work in another field outside the department. In those cases, two advisors will be necessary.
Independent reading and research. Aim to have a list of primary sources and a list of secondary sources by the start of the fall term. Start drafting your thesis proposal (example HERE).
Share your thesis proposal draft with your faculty advisor by the first week of class, get feedback, revise, and submit the final draft to Ann Fenton (Ann.N.Fenton@dartmouth.edu), Department Administrator, and your advisor by October 1. Meet with your advisor and set up a regular meeting schedule for the term. Together, set concrete (and achievable) research and/or writing milestones for each meeting. Develop an outline and start drafting one of the chapters/parts with the goal of having it ready by January 3.
Enroll in GERM 65 (culminating experience). You will submit another chapter/part of your thesis in lieu of the final writing project in this class. Meet with the instructor of the course and your advisor in the first week of the winter term to discuss your thesis work in the context of the class.
Senior spring: Enroll in GERM 87 and meet with your advisor regularly to make sure that you complete the full first draft by May 1st. You will receive feedback and submit the final draft by May 25th. Your public presentation will be scheduled for the penultimate week of classes.
The department will vote on Honors or High Honors by the end of the term.