Comparative American Studies

CAST Honors

Senior Comparative American Studies Program majors may conduct independent, original research or a creative project through the Honors Program.

Consideration for admission to the Honors Program takes place during the second semester of the junior year by invitation of the Comparative American Studies Program faculty or by self-nomination.

Honors students must enroll in CAST 501/502 Honors Seminar (both semesters) and are exempt from the Research Seminar (CAST 500) requirement.


Guideline for Writing the Honors Prospectus 

Preparation and Applying for Honors

  • Students accepted for honors must normally have a 3.00 GPA in the college, and a 3.25 average in the major at the beginning of the second semester of the junior year. They must have completed the following: Introductory course requirement (100 or a 200-level CAST course) and CAST 200: Theories and Methods in American Studies must be completed by the end of the junior year.
  • Interested and qualified students should speak to prospective supervisors from the Comparative American Studies faculty as soon as possible. Early in the second semester of their junior year, students should work with the director or a faculty member to prepare a 8-10 page honors prospectus (see Honors Prospectus Guidelines). This prospectus must be submitted to the CAS department chair by April 15 of their junior year.
  • Students on leave during the spring semester of their junior year are also expected to meet the April 15 deadline, and should make plans to discuss their proposals with a prospective advisor well before they leave campus.
  • The CAS faculty will review applications for Honors. Students will be informed of the outcome by the end of the spring semester of the junior year. Be advised that while students may identify a potential advisor, the CAS faculty will assign advisors based on faculty availability and expertise. 
  • Applicants will either be accepted into honors, declined, or asked to revise and resubmit their proposal. The deadline for a resubmission will be in August, usually a week before fall classes begin.

Register for CAST 501: Honors Seminar

  • First semester work concentrates on preparatory research for the writing of the honors project, or preliminary development of the creative project. This work is carried out both in the honors seminar and under the guidance of the student’s project supervisor.
  • By the end of the first semester, the student must submit to the supervisor a well-developed writing sample, normally either an extended prospectus or the introduction.
  • The supervisor, in consultation with the CAS core faculty and director, will determine whether or not the student should continue in the Honors Program. If the student is unable to continue, the supervisor will submit a grade for a first-semester private reading for the student to the director of the program.
  • By the end of the semester, the student, working in consultation with the project supervisor and the honors coordinator, will form a committee consisting of the supervisor and two faculty readers. The honors coordinator will issue invitations to these faculty to join the student's project committee. The student will share their final writing sample from the previous semester with the two other members of the project committee.

Register for CAST 502: Honors Seminar

  • Work in the second semester will concentrate on writing the thesis or completing the creative project.
  • The student will submit a complete first version of the project to the three members of the project committee by the beginning of spring break. The project committee will provide feedback within a week. The student should consult with all three faculty members about incorporating this feedback into the final revisions.
  • The final written thesis should be approximately 30-50 double-spaced pages. For creative projects, the student and their project supervisor will determine the final form of the project.
  • The deadline for submission of the project in its final form is 3 full weeks before the last day of classes. The student must distribute the final project to each of their three examiners. The project will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria: 1) how effectively does the student locate this research or creative project in relationship to relevant bodies of scholarship; 2) how original was the research question and analysis or how innovative was the creative project; 3) the quality of the writing or creative work; and 4) the persuasiveness of the argument or insights produced in the project
  • By the time the final project is submitted, the project supervisor, in consultation with the student and director of the Program, should have set up a time and place for the honors discussion and public presentation.
  • All honors students will participate in a public presentation of their projects to be held sometime in the last two weeks of classes. Each talk should last 20 - 30 minutes and include a period of discussion. Students should consult with their project supervisors about strategies for effective communication of their work.
  • The honors discussion consists of the student’s project committee and should be held within 5 to 10 days after the submission of the project. The discussion will last about one hour; after the discussion the committee will evaluate the discussion based upon the following criteria: 1) how well does the student locate the project within current scholarship, lay out the problem, present data, observations, and analysis; 2) how do they handle questions from the committee, including drawing on secondary and primary sources in the answers; and 3) the quality of project including the level of professionalism in the style of presentation, the use of illustrations or other media, etc.
  • At the conclusion of the honors discussion, the project committee will decide whether honors should be recommended and at what level. They will then forward a recommendation about both the final project and the honors discussion to the Comparative American Studies program committee.
  • Normally, the relative weight given to the project and the honors discussion in determining the level of honors recommended will be:
    • Project: 2/3
    • Honors discussion: 1/3

Overall GPA at the end of the 7th semester will also be a factor in determining the recommendation.

  • Honors students are not exempt from final exams or papers in any of their classes in their major. 

Any questions concerning honors in Comparative American Studies should be addressed to the Director of Comparative American Studies.