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Honors Program


Students who qualify for the Honors Program and wish to pursue this Program in any of the major options offered by the Department must identify a topic of interest and a faculty advisor who will serve as the director of the Honors Project. Students will prepare a written proposal and submit it to their advisor and to the department for approval. The proposal must be submitted by the end of the term prior to registering for Spanish or Portuguese 90. All students pursuing an Honors Program must take the Honors Course (Spanish 90 or Portuguese 90) and complete an Honors Thesis (Spanish 91 or Portuguese 91).

On this web page, you will find:

Learning Objectives of Our Honors Thesis

Students writing an honors thesis in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese can expect to achieve the following learning objectives:

  • Initiate and develop to completion an extended, independent research opportunity about a compelling topic of interest.
  • Gain experience in self-directed analysis of literary, theatrical, filmic, visual and other cultural and critical productions from the Luso-Hispanic-Latino world (Spain, Portugal, Latin America, Brazil, and the U.S.).
  • Undertake an intensive writing tutorial.
  • Develop advanced language skills in Spanish and/or Portuguese.
  • Prepare for the rigorous demands of graduate study and/or professional school.
  • Produce writing sample for graduate and/or professional school applications.

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Tentative Timeline

Students can use this timetable as a tentative guide in order to fulfill all the requirements in a timely manner:

Before the Spring of Junior Year
  • Identify a topic of interest
  • Check departmental website and identify potential faculty advisor
  • Contact faculty
  • Write proposal in consultation with faculty advisor
End of Spring
  • Fill out and submit application along with proposal (before April 30)
Last week of Spring
  • Hear back from Department.
  • If proposal is approved and funds are needed, apply for research funds
Second week of Summer
  • Hear back from Chair of Department about research funds
  • Research, read, write in consultation with faculty advisor
Fall of Senior Year
  • Take Spanish or Portuguese 90
  • Research, read, write in consultation with faculty advisor
  • Take Spanish or Portuguese 91
  • Read, write in consultation with faculty advisor
  • Finish writing
  • Format thesis using MLA guidelines
  • Submit thesis to your advisor
  • Arrange presentation day
  • Present your thesis
  • Attend event organized by the department for graduating seniors
  • Graduate

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Application and Approval Procedures

Students who wish to participate in the honors thesis program must follow these guidelines:

  1. Determine that you will have successfully completed five courses 30-level or above before the end of your junior year.
  2. Determine that you meet the minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 for all Dartmouth courses, and 3.5 in the major.
  3. Obtain a faculty advisor. (Check the department web page for information on faculty interests. Your thesis advisor may or may not be the same person as your Academic Advisor.)
  4. Fill out and print the application form and write a thesis proposal. Both need to be handed in to the department administrator by April 30. The application form and the proposal must be signed by your primary advisor.
  5. Ideally you will enroll in Spanish or Portuguese 90 in the fall of your senior year, and Spanish or Portuguese 91 in the winter.
  6. If you will be away on an FSP or LSA during spring term of your junior year, you are encouraged to complete your application by the end of winter term. Extensions will not be given on account of FSP or LSA participation.

Click here to download the Application Form. Make sure to print it and submit three copies.

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Honors Thesis Proposal

The honors thesis proposal should be between 3-5 pages in length, have a tentative title and chapter titles, chapter descriptions and provide a bibliography of at least fifteen entries. The proposal should answer the following questions:

  1. What is your research topic?
  2. What is the central question you will examine?
  3. Why is it important and interesting?
  4. What is your (preliminary) answer to the question or interpretation of the text?
  5. What are the competing answers/interpretations?
  6. What theoretical approaches and/or modes of analysis will guide your research?
  7. How will you structure and organize your thesis? (A thesis usually includes an introduction, three to five chapters of between 25-30 pages each, and a conclusion.)
  8. Will you need to travel as part of your research? How will you schedule this travel and how will you obtain funding for it (departmental funds, Dickey Center, Dean of Faculty Office, etc.)? Once your proposal is approved, you are encouraged to apply for departmental research funds by filling out the application form and including a detailed budget proposal.
  9. Enclose a preliminary bibliography (minimum 15 sources).
  10. The Spanish and Portuguese Department will also consider proposals for projects that are not primarily focused on literary analysis in Spanish or Portuguese, such as media projects, performance/theater, creative writing, and bilingual/English-language theses.

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Criteria for Proposal Approval

Once the Spanish and Portuguese Department receives the proposals, the faculty will use the following criteria to approve the project:

  1. The proposal clearly articulates a compelling research/interpretive question.
  2. The student’s approach coherently addresses the nature of the project’s topic and central question.
  3. The proposal anticipates the structure of the thesis and how each section is relevant to the central question.
  4. The bibliography includes—in addition to the primary texts—carefully selected materials that cover historical, theoretical, critical, and, if appropriate, biographical areas of inquiry.

Students and advisors will be notified promptly if the proposal has been approved. If the department requests changes and/or clarifications, the student must submit the revised proposal no later than two days before the department’s last meeting of the spring term (consult with Jillene Syphus for the schedule. If a student’s proposal is not approved, the department will recommend that the project become an independent study.

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Assessment of Honors Thesis

The faculty thesis advisor is recommended to consider the following criteria for evaluating the honors thesis:

  • Articulates a compelling research/interpretive question.
  • Develops knowledge of appropriate research methodologies.
  • Develops close reading skills.
  • Develops understanding of underlying theories and critical approaches.
  • Is able to historically contextualize.
  • Shows awareness of the central concerns of the scholarly field.
  • Develops mastery of rhetorical and argumentational strategies.
  • Uses a clear expository style.
  • Develops advanced skills in target language writing.

Once the student has done her/his presentation and submitted the last version of the thesis in the Spring Term, the members of the department will vote for honors or high honors.

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Honors Thesis Research Fund

The department is able to provide research funds for students who have research-related expenses (travel, copyright fees, etc). Typically the student will request departmental funds for research expenses after her/his proposal has been approved at the end of the Spring, and will use the funds in the summer of the third year or the fall of the senior year.

Click here to download the Research Funds Application Form. Note you will need your advisor’s signature.

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Past Honors Theses

Copies of Spanish and Portuguese Honors Theses are shelved in the Department Office, 218 Dartmouth Hall. Theses may be borrowed for short periods of time.

Click here to see list of Honors Theses from 1983 to the present.

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Last Updated: 8/3/10