• Have your assignments done by seasoned writers. 24/7
  • Contact us:
  • +1 (213) 221-0069
  • [email protected]

Honors College Essay: Tips, Prompt Examples and How to Write

Honors College Essay: Tips, Prompt Examples and How to Write

Writing honors college essay

Writing honors college essay

An honors college essay is an academic paper that students typically complete to establish entrance into an honors college, program, or division. An honors paper seeks to test students’ research skills and focus their analytical abilities on a subject of academic interest. 

Due to the specialized focus of the paper, students benefit from serious attention to the college essay topics, which are vital in developing the essay.

honors english essay sample

An Honors College essay is unique in terms of its requirements, structure, and background. The purpose of this article is to provide advice on writing and structuring an Honors College essay.

People Also Read: SAT Essay Cancellation: Before College Registration Process

Which Universities do Ask for Honors College Essay

1. uci (university of california irvine) .

The UCI has two programs, the Academic Honors Program and the Honors Program. Both are popular with many members. They are not mutually exclusive, but they have different requirements and different goals.

The Academic Honors Program is for students who want to get recognized by their professors for academic achievement. It does not require an essay but several letters of recommendation from faculty members.

You should not apply to either program if you are only interested in one or the other because there is no guarantee that either program will accept your application or that you will gain acceptance into either program.

2. VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University)

Colleges for Honors Essay

The applicants must complete the 500-word Essay on Honors. The essay should address the following topics:

  • Your interests and goals, especially as they pertain to your intended major(s) and career path(s). How do you feel about being a lifelong learner?
  • Your ideas about leadership, including h
  • How you would define leadership, what your leadership style is, how you would use your abilities as a leader to positively impact your community in and out of college, and how you would lead if given the opportunity.

3. NJT (New Jersey Institute of Technology)

NJT requires you to write an essay and submit it along with your application.

These honors college essays usually focus on your intellectual interests and experiences, using specific examples to illustrate your points. It’s essential to select an area you are interested in and know about. 

You should also pick something that you can write about easily; it will be evident if you are writing a research paper or other academic work instead of an honors college essay, so don’t try to fake it!

4. Purdue University

Purdue University’s Honors College focuses on scholarship, leadership, research, and engagement by integrating residential and co-curricular learning opportunities with academic classroom experiences.

Your college application essay needs to breathe life into your application. It should capture your genuine personality, explaining who you are beyond a series of grades, test scores, and after-school activities. 

Take a minute and think about the college or university admission officers who will be reading your essay.

5. Stony Brook University

The Stony Brook Honors College provides an exceptional opportunity for students who want to pursue a challenging course of study in the company of talented peers. Your essay should be no longer than three double-spaced pages and should address certain questions.

It is an opportunity to explain an event that took place on any day in history; what would that event be? Discuss why you chose this particular day. Also, as this question, what do you hope to learn/experience by being present?

People Also Read: AP Capstone Pros and Cons: Is it Worth It? Do colleges Care

How to Write a Good Honors College Essay

Honors college essays follow a formal style with a clear structure. To get your honors college essay, follow these tips:

an essay introduction

  • Think about the prompt and what you want to say.
  • Brainstorm.
  • Organize your thoughts into a logical outline.
  • Write your introduction.
  • End with a conclusion that sums up the main points of your argument and connects those points back to the prompt.

Technically, the honors college essay can be a five-paragraph essay, but it should be more than that.

It should be closer to a 10-paragraph essay, with an introduction and conclusion paragraph that are each about four or five sentences long.

The introduction and conclusion paragraphs should be about the same size. The middle of the essay should be about three paragraphs long, and each of them should be about four to five sentences long.

1. Introduction 

The introduction should have a hook which is a catchy sentence or two that gets the reader interested in reading your essay. Furthermore, it should have an explanation of why you want to go to Honors College: This is usually possible in one sentence. 

Also, there should be a thesis statement. This is usually evident in one sentence at the end of the paragraph. The thesis statement tells the reader what you plan to write about in your essay. For example: “I want to attend honors college because of their strong pre-med program.”

Write the body of your paper using transition words to connect your ideas and explain the connections between them.

The middle paragraphs should include an explanation of why you have chosen your career path and why you are interested. 

3. Conclusion

End with a strong conclusion that ties together everything you discussed within your paper, providing important takeaways for readers as well as leaving them feeling satisfied with what they just read.


  • You are writing an essay, not a text message. In other words, please use complete sentences and correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. If proper English is not your strong suit, enlist someone proficient at it to help edit your essay.
  • Be specific about what you want to study and why. Do not just say that you want an education; tell the reader what kind of education you want and why. This is particularly important if you plan to study something that you did not find at your high school. 
  • The readers do not expect you to know everything about the field you plan to enter. They expect that you give serious consideration to it and explain why you want to pursue it beyond the fact that “it sounds interesting” or “it pays well.”
  • Proofread your essays before sending them in. Errors will distract from whatever else is in those essays and may give us a negative impression of your abilities.

To remember

Things to Remember about Honor Essays

The honors essay is one of your best chances to stand out in a meaningful way from other applicants, so be sure to invest time in crafting a great response.

The admission office is looking for the following:

  • The office wants to know that you understand what makes the honors program special. We have a diverse group of students and faculty who are passionate about learning and interacting across disciplines.
  • What do you think this will mean for you? How will you take advantage of being in an environment that values interdisciplinary thinking?
  • Your accomplishments. Let the audience know your talents. Have you excelled academically? What leadership roles have you taken on, or awards have you won? They want to discover what drives your passion for learning, leadership, and service.
  • Your plans for the future. The honors program will prepare you for success beyond your skills, whether that’s graduate school or medical school, or a career in a completely different field. 

People Also Read: NJHS Essay: How to Write a Winning Piece from Ideas to end

Examples of Honors College Essay Topics

  • Considering your lifetime goals, explain how your present and future academic activities will assist you in achieving your goals. 
  • Settle for an issue of importance to you, whether it is political, personal, local, or international related. Then, craft an essay to explain the significance of that issue to yourself, your community, and your generation. 

Josh Jasen

When not handling complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

Related posts

Titles for Essay about Yourself

Titles for Essay about Yourself

Good Titles for Essays about yourself: 31 Personal Essay Topics

How to Write a Diagnostic Essay

How to Write a Diagnostic Essay

How to Write a Diagnostic Essay: Meaning and Topics Example

How Scantron Detects Cheating

How Scantron Detects Cheating

Scantron Cheating: How it Detects Cheating and Tricks Students Use

Albert Dorman Honors College

Tips for Writing an Honors College Essay

Writing an Honors College Essay (Max. 400 words)

A college essay is a chance for you to tell us what all your records cannot: who you really are, how you think, and how well you write. It is not an invitation to tell a story, write a novel, or write about other people's experiences. The main point of your essay is to tell us what you have to offer and how you will take advantage of what we have to offer .

  • Write an essay that addresses the topic specified  on the application form. A general essay about yourself or an experience you had is not acceptable.
  • Do not write your essay as if it were a novel. "The baby cried until it had to be comforted by its mother;" "I could not believe as I walked into my first class that this was the beginning of my engineering career." These tell us nothing about yourself. Regardless of what you may have been told in school, write a straightforward descriptive essay that directly addresses the question asked.
  • Avoid clichéd, generic, and predictable writing, such as "I want to help people." This is particularly applicable to essays for accelerated program candidates.
  • Do not quote our own description of our program. We know what we have to offer; we are interested in knowing what you have to offer and how you will use what we offer . Tell us about your interests and why the Albert Dorman Honors College is the right place for you.

honors english essay sample

Honors Program Guide


Opportunities for Independent Critical and Scholarly Work 

Completing the English major with honors allows students to do independent study on a topic they choose, to work closely with a faculty advisor, and to write a researched critical paper of about 50 pages. Students almost always find the Honors Program an incalculably satisfying project and a memorable achievement. Here and elsewhere, many graduate school applicants submit part of their honors thesis as a sample of their critical, scholarly work and their future promise as scholars. Students preparing for other career paths also write theses in their senior year.

When combined with the opportunity to study one-on-one with a scholar in a field of particular interest, to get a real taste of the pleasures of advanced work, to discuss work with other honors students, work on the honors thesis places students in an intellectual community, the memories of which they may well carry into future work and into other intellectual and professional endeavors.

Successfully completing an honors thesis requires sustained interest, ability, diligence, and enthusiasm—all qualities in large supply among Cornell English Majors.

Admission to the Honors Program

How to apply.

  • Calculate your GPA for courses that qualify for the English major. A minimum English GPA of 3.7 is required to be eligible for the Honors Program.
  • Confer with the Director of Honors and receive preliminary acceptance to the Honors Program. The Director of Honors is listed on the faculty page . 
  • Complete the online  Honors Program Application . The Director of Honors will record their approval of your application with the department.
  • Ask an English professor to be your honors thesis advisor and obtain email confirmation that they have agreed. Send your thesis advisor’s confirmation as an attachment (or have them email directly) to the Director of Honors and the Undergraduate Program Coordinator ( Aurora Ricardo, [email protected] ).

Requirements and Courses

The Honors Program is a three-course commitment in which students must complete:

ENGL 4910 (Pre-1800) or ENGL 4920 (Post-1800): Honors Seminar The purpose of the Honors Seminar is to acquaint students with methods of study and research to help them write their thesis.

  • The seminar requires a substantial essay that incorporates evidence and critical material effectively, and develops an argument. Students need not take an Honors Seminar that applies directly to the subject of their honors thesis work.
  • Plan to take the Honors Seminar in your junior year. If you plan to study abroad one semester of the junior year, you should take the Honors Seminar in the semester you are studying at Cornell. If you are spending the academic year abroad, you will need to take the Honors Seminar either in the first semester of your senior year—keeping in mind that you will also be enrolled in ENGL 4930 Honors Essay Tutorial I—or as a sophomore, with permission of the instructor.

ENGL 4930 (Fall) and ENGL 4940 (Spring): Honors Essay Tutorial I & II Students work one-on-one with their thesis advisor, meeting regularly on a mutually agreed upon schedule between the professor and the student. Students will also attend larger meetings of all honors candidates held by the Director of Honors.

  • These semesters must be consecutive during the senior year . The Honors Essay Tutorial is a full-year independent study course taken for a letter grade (S/U grades are not an option for Honors Tutorials I and II).
  • To enroll in your thesis advisor’s section of ENGL 4930/4940, you must have their approval and the Director of Honors' approval of your application on record with the department. 

While applying to the program and writing a thesis is not a guarantee that you will be awarded honors in English, most of our candidates who complete an honors thesis have been successful.

Stages of the Program

The semester-by-semester schedule below should give interested students an idea of the usual way honors candidates move through the program. Other patterns are possible, though. Some students know at the time they declare the English major that they wish to pursue honors, while others may discover later in their English studies a riveting interest they desire to pursue in-depth, and only then consider writing an honors thesis.

Early planning usually makes it easier to fulfill the Honors Program’s three-course commitment (Honors Seminar, Honors Essay Tutorial I, Honors Essay Tutorial II). But any English major with a strong record in literary studies and curiosity about a topic is welcome to talk to the Director of Honors, at any stage, about the possibility of becoming a candidate for English honors.

Sophomore year

  • If you have a strong record, apply to the Honors Program in your second semester. Occasionally, students with especially strong motivation or a defined thesis plan whose major GPA is somewhat lower than the minimum will apply. The Director of Honors will then review their junior-year English grades to assess their eligibility to continue in the program.

Junior year

  • Complete ENGL 4910/4920, the Honors Seminar. 
  • Start to identify your thesis topic. 
  • Confirm your thesis advisor. 
  • Pre-enroll in your thesis advisor's section of ENGL 4930: Honors Essay Tutorial I.
  • Ask for some suggestions for preparatory reading. Spend some time in the summer months reading primary texts and thinking about your topic, approach, and argument. If possible, be in occasional email contact with your advisor.

Senior year

First semester.

  • As soon as your first semester senior year begins, consult with your thesis advisor about your topic, discuss requirements and procedures, and set up a schedule for regular meetings. If you did not pre-­enroll for ENGL 4930 you will need to do so.
  • Peruse past submissions in the honors thesis archive .  
  • a short prospectus or essay proposal
  • a bibliography of available and relevant secondary or conceptual work on your topic
  • an annotated bibliography of the work you wish to use, critique, and apply to your research
  • about 20–30 pages of writing

Second Semester

  • While enrolled in ENGL 4940, you will write the final draft of your honors thesis. Your advisor should read a few drafts of the final version, drafts which you should be submitting and revising under your advisor’s engaged supervision.
  • Allow yourself the last two weeks to edit and proofread your thesis. Do not complicate your own project by trying to do too much at the last minute and not allowing time for the refinement of ideas and execution.
  • Submit your thesis by the deadline in mid-April (or early November for those graduating in January).
  • Enjoy the remainder of your final semester and graduate with Distinction in English!

Developing a Thesis Topic

Look over the papers you have written in your English courses. Some of the most successful honors theses have come out of coursework—including work completed for the Honors Seminar—that sparked curiosity and made a student want to go further and revisit and revise previous work.

Identify your interests; think about work you have done well in the past and about what work you would enjoy pursuing.

Brainstorm freely, dream, identify your intellectual interests and passions.  

Ask yourself: What project will nurture and sustain my interest for two semesters of independent study?  These suggestions should help you identify your topic for the honors thesis and should help you think about the advisor with whom you would enjoy working.

Honors Thesis Advisor

When choosing your honors thesis advisor, speak to faculty members who would be suitable for your project, keeping in mind that your thesis advisor should be in residence both semesters. The thesis advisor does not have to be the major advisor. You can consult the Director of Honors about appropriate advisors.

Most working relationships between honors candidates and their thesis advisors go well, and the learning is genial, exciting, and mutual. Many students recall their tutorial as a highlight of their Cornell experience, and professors, too, typically enjoy working with intellectually engaged students on a developing thesis. But if you realize that the shape your topic is taking calls on a different kind of expertise from the one represented by your thesis advisor, it is possible to change your advisors. Consult the Director of Honors for advice.

Thesis Grade and Honors Designation

Honors thesis grade.

The thesis writing process is determined in two parts:

  • The entire course (Honors Essay Tutorial I in the Fall and Honors Essay Tutorial II in the Spring) will give you 8 credits. Your work for each semester will be graded by your thesis advisor.
  • The completed honors thesis is read and assessed by two readers. One reader is the thesis advisor. The other is often a faculty member whose academic interests correspond to your topic. Readers write a report and assign a letter grade to the thesis. You will receive both your advisor's and second reader's reports.

Honors Level Designation

The Honors Committee, selected by the department Chair, assists the Director of Honors in determining the level of honors (Honors, High Honors, Highest Honors). They average the English GPA and the two thesis grades for each honors candidate and rank them. The Honors Committee assesses the theses as a whole. They may also consider the student’s performance in the English major and the student’s overall transcript.

Effective Spring 2026: Any level of honors in English will translate to a degree of Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in English. The English honors designation is not equivalent to Latin honors levels.

Honors Thesis Format

  • Approximately 50 pages of text (not including endnotes and bibliography), double-spaced, 12-point type.
  • Use either the MLA or Chicago manuals of style for footnotes or endnotes, quotations, internal citations, bibliographical entries, etc. Handbooks are accessible online as well as in printed form which can be purchased or used in libraries. 
  • There are no predetermined formats for the title page, dedication page, or table of contents.

Honors Thesis Archive

Copies of past theses are available to view in the English office (250 GSH, M-F 9AM-4PM). The previous year’s submissions are kept for one year. Winners of the M.H. Abrams Thesis Prize are kept for five years. Theses cannot be removed from the office.

Students explore the archive in order to see how previous theses were formatted and titled, or to see a sampling of past topics.

Humanities Scholars Program

The departmental honors thesis may be used as Conference Presentation for the Humanities Scholars Program  (HSP). Students present their projects at the annual Humanities Scholars Conference in May.

HSP is an undergraduate program of the Cornell University College of Arts & Sciences that fosters independent, interdisciplinary undergraduate research in the humanities, and provides a supportive community, through a series of curated courses, structured mentorship, special programming, and research opportunities and funding. The program is housed in the historic Andrew Dickson White House on central campus.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Honors Theses

What this handout is about.

Writing a senior honors thesis, or any major research essay, can seem daunting at first. A thesis requires a reflective, multi-stage writing process. This handout will walk you through those stages. It is targeted at students in the humanities and social sciences, since their theses tend to involve more writing than projects in the hard sciences. Yet all thesis writers may find the organizational strategies helpful.


What is an honors thesis.

That depends quite a bit on your field of study. However, all honors theses have at least two things in common:

  • They are based on students’ original research.
  • They take the form of a written manuscript, which presents the findings of that research. In the humanities, theses average 50-75 pages in length and consist of two or more chapters. In the social sciences, the manuscript may be shorter, depending on whether the project involves more quantitative than qualitative research. In the hard sciences, the manuscript may be shorter still, often taking the form of a sophisticated laboratory report.

Who can write an honors thesis?

In general, students who are at the end of their junior year, have an overall 3.2 GPA, and meet their departmental requirements can write a senior thesis. For information about your eligibility, contact:

  • UNC Honors Program
  • Your departmental administrators of undergraduate studies/honors

Why write an honors thesis?

Satisfy your intellectual curiosity This is the most compelling reason to write a thesis. Whether it’s the short stories of Flannery O’Connor or the challenges of urban poverty, you’ve studied topics in college that really piqued your interest. Now’s your chance to follow your passions, explore further, and contribute some original ideas and research in your field.

Develop transferable skills Whether you choose to stay in your field of study or not, the process of developing and crafting a feasible research project will hone skills that will serve you well in almost any future job. After all, most jobs require some form of problem solving and oral and written communication. Writing an honors thesis requires that you:

  • ask smart questions
  • acquire the investigative instincts needed to find answers
  • navigate libraries, laboratories, archives, databases, and other research venues
  • develop the flexibility to redirect your research if your initial plan flops
  • master the art of time management
  • hone your argumentation skills
  • organize a lengthy piece of writing
  • polish your oral communication skills by presenting and defending your project to faculty and peers

Work closely with faculty mentors At large research universities like Carolina, you’ve likely taken classes where you barely got to know your instructor. Writing a thesis offers the opportunity to work one-on-one with a with faculty adviser. Such mentors can enrich your intellectual development and later serve as invaluable references for graduate school and employment.

Open windows into future professions An honors thesis will give you a taste of what it’s like to do research in your field. Even if you’re a sociology major, you may not really know what it’s like to be a sociologist. Writing a sociology thesis would open a window into that world. It also might help you decide whether to pursue that field in graduate school or in your future career.

How do you write an honors thesis?

Get an idea of what’s expected.

It’s a good idea to review some of the honors theses other students have submitted to get a sense of what an honors thesis might look like and what kinds of things might be appropriate topics. Look for examples from the previous year in the Carolina Digital Repository. You may also be able to find past theses collected in your major department or at the North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library. Pay special attention to theses written by students who share your major.

Choose a topic

Ideally, you should start thinking about topics early in your junior year, so you can begin your research and writing quickly during your senior year. (Many departments require that you submit a proposal for an honors thesis project during the spring of your junior year.)

How should you choose a topic?

  • Read widely in the fields that interest you. Make a habit of browsing professional journals to survey the “hot” areas of research and to familiarize yourself with your field’s stylistic conventions. (You’ll find the most recent issues of the major professional journals in the periodicals reading room on the first floor of Davis Library).
  • Set up appointments to talk with faculty in your field. This is a good idea, since you’ll eventually need to select an advisor and a second reader. Faculty also can help you start narrowing down potential topics.
  • Look at honors theses from the past. The North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library holds UNC honors theses. To get a sense of the typical scope of a thesis, take a look at a sampling from your field.

What makes a good topic?

  • It’s fascinating. Above all, choose something that grips your imagination. If you don’t, the chances are good that you’ll struggle to finish.
  • It’s doable. Even if a topic interests you, it won’t work out unless you have access to the materials you need to research it. Also be sure that your topic is narrow enough. Let’s take an example: Say you’re interested in the efforts to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and early 1980s. That’s a big topic that probably can’t be adequately covered in a single thesis. You need to find a case study within that larger topic. For example, maybe you’re particularly interested in the states that did not ratify the ERA. Of those states, perhaps you’ll select North Carolina, since you’ll have ready access to local research materials. And maybe you want to focus primarily on the ERA’s opponents. Beyond that, maybe you’re particularly interested in female opponents of the ERA. Now you’ve got a much more manageable topic: Women in North Carolina Who Opposed the ERA in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • It contains a question. There’s a big difference between having a topic and having a guiding research question. Taking the above topic, perhaps your main question is: Why did some women in North Carolina oppose the ERA? You will, of course, generate other questions: Who were the most outspoken opponents? White women? Middle-class women? How did they oppose the ERA? Public protests? Legislative petitions? etc. etc. Yet it’s good to start with a guiding question that will focus your research.

Goal-setting and time management

The senior year is an exceptionally busy time for college students. In addition to the usual load of courses and jobs, seniors have the daunting task of applying for jobs and/or graduate school. These demands are angst producing and time consuming If that scenario sounds familiar, don’t panic! Do start strategizing about how to make a time for your thesis. You may need to take a lighter course load or eliminate extracurricular activities. Even if the thesis is the only thing on your plate, you still need to make a systematic schedule for yourself. Most departments require that you take a class that guides you through the honors project, so deadlines likely will be set for you. Still, you should set your own goals for meeting those deadlines. Here are a few suggestions for goal setting and time management:

Start early. Keep in mind that many departments will require that you turn in your thesis sometime in early April, so don’t count on having the entire spring semester to finish your work. Ideally, you’ll start the research process the semester or summer before your senior year so that the writing process can begin early in the fall. Some goal-setting will be done for you if you are taking a required class that guides you through the honors project. But any substantive research project requires a clear timetable.

Set clear goals in making a timetable. Find out the final deadline for turning in your project to your department. Working backwards from that deadline, figure out how much time you can allow for the various stages of production.

Here is a sample timetable. Use it, however, with two caveats in mind:

  • The timetable for your thesis might look very different depending on your departmental requirements.
  • You may not wish to proceed through these stages in a linear fashion. You may want to revise chapter one before you write chapter two. Or you might want to write your introduction last, not first. This sample is designed simply to help you start thinking about how to customize your own schedule.

Sample timetable

Avoid falling into the trap of procrastination. Once you’ve set goals for yourself, stick to them! For some tips on how to do this, see our handout on procrastination .

Consistent production

It’s a good idea to try to squeeze in a bit of thesis work every day—even if it’s just fifteen minutes of journaling or brainstorming about your topic. Or maybe you’ll spend that fifteen minutes taking notes on a book. The important thing is to accomplish a bit of active production (i.e., putting words on paper) for your thesis every day. That way, you develop good writing habits that will help you keep your project moving forward.

Make yourself accountable to someone other than yourself

Since most of you will be taking a required thesis seminar, you will have deadlines. Yet you might want to form a writing group or enlist a peer reader, some person or people who can help you stick to your goals. Moreover, if your advisor encourages you to work mostly independently, don’t be afraid to ask them to set up periodic meetings at which you’ll turn in installments of your project.

Brainstorming and freewriting

One of the biggest challenges of a lengthy writing project is keeping the creative juices flowing. Here’s where freewriting can help. Try keeping a small notebook handy where you jot down stray ideas that pop into your head. Or schedule time to freewrite. You may find that such exercises “free” you up to articulate your argument and generate new ideas. Here are some questions to stimulate freewriting.

Questions for basic brainstorming at the beginning of your project:

  • What do I already know about this topic?
  • Why do I care about this topic?
  • Why is this topic important to people other than myself
  • What more do I want to learn about this topic?
  • What is the main question that I am trying to answer?
  • Where can I look for additional information?
  • Who is my audience and how can I reach them?
  • How will my work inform my larger field of study?
  • What’s the main goal of my research project?

Questions for reflection throughout your project:

  • What’s my main argument? How has it changed since I began the project?
  • What’s the most important evidence that I have in support of my “big point”?
  • What questions do my sources not answer?
  • How does my case study inform or challenge my field writ large?
  • Does my project reinforce or contradict noted scholars in my field? How?
  • What is the most surprising finding of my research?
  • What is the most frustrating part of this project?
  • What is the most rewarding part of this project?
  • What will be my work’s most important contribution?

Research and note-taking

In conducting research, you will need to find both primary sources (“firsthand” sources that come directly from the period/events/people you are studying) and secondary sources (“secondhand” sources that are filtered through the interpretations of experts in your field.) The nature of your research will vary tremendously, depending on what field you’re in. For some general suggestions on finding sources, consult the UNC Libraries tutorials . Whatever the exact nature of the research you’re conducting, you’ll be taking lots of notes and should reflect critically on how you do that. Too often it’s assumed that the research phase of a project involves very little substantive writing (i.e., writing that involves thinking). We sit down with our research materials and plunder them for basic facts and useful quotations. That mechanical type of information-recording is important. But a more thoughtful type of writing and analytical thinking is also essential at this stage. Some general guidelines for note-taking:

First of all, develop a research system. There are lots of ways to take and organize your notes. Whether you choose to use note cards, computer databases, or notebooks, follow two cardinal rules:

  • Make careful distinctions between direct quotations and your paraphrasing! This is critical if you want to be sure to avoid accidentally plagiarizing someone else’s work. For more on this, see our handout on plagiarism .
  • Record full citations for each source. Don’t get lazy here! It will be far more difficult to find the proper citation later than to write it down now.

Keeping those rules in mind, here’s a template for the types of information that your note cards/legal pad sheets/computer files should include for each of your sources:

Abbreviated subject heading: Include two or three words to remind you of what this sources is about (this shorthand categorization is essential for the later sorting of your sources).

Complete bibliographic citation:

  • author, title, publisher, copyright date, and page numbers for published works
  • box and folder numbers and document descriptions for archival sources
  • complete web page title, author, address, and date accessed for online sources

Notes on facts, quotations, and arguments: Depending on the type of source you’re using, the content of your notes will vary. If, for example, you’re using US Census data, then you’ll mainly be writing down statistics and numbers. If you’re looking at someone else’s diary, you might jot down a number of quotations that illustrate the subject’s feelings and perspectives. If you’re looking at a secondary source, you’ll want to make note not just of factual information provided by the author but also of their key arguments.

Your interpretation of the source: This is the most important part of note-taking. Don’t just record facts. Go ahead and take a stab at interpreting them. As historians Jacques Barzun and Henry F. Graff insist, “A note is a thought.” So what do these thoughts entail? Ask yourself questions about the context and significance of each source.

Interpreting the context of a source:

  • Who wrote/created the source?
  • When, and under what circumstances, was it written/created?
  • Why was it written/created? What was the agenda behind the source?
  • How was it written/created?
  • If using a secondary source: How does it speak to other scholarship in the field?

Interpreting the significance of a source:

  • How does this source answer (or complicate) my guiding research questions?
  • Does it pose new questions for my project? What are they?
  • Does it challenge my fundamental argument? If so, how?
  • Given the source’s context, how reliable is it?

You don’t need to answer all of these questions for each source, but you should set a goal of engaging in at least one or two sentences of thoughtful, interpretative writing for each source. If you do so, you’ll make much easier the next task that awaits you: drafting.

The dread of drafting

Why do we often dread drafting? We dread drafting because it requires synthesis, one of the more difficult forms of thinking and interpretation. If you’ve been free-writing and taking thoughtful notes during the research phase of your project, then the drafting should be far less painful. Here are some tips on how to get started:

Sort your “evidence” or research into analytical categories:

  • Some people file note cards into categories.
  • The technologically-oriented among us take notes using computer database programs that have built-in sorting mechanisms.
  • Others cut and paste evidence into detailed outlines on their computer.
  • Still others stack books, notes, and photocopies into topically-arranged piles.There is not a single right way, but this step—in some form or fashion—is essential!

If you’ve been forcing yourself to put subject headings on your notes as you go along, you’ll have generated a number of important analytical categories. Now, you need to refine those categories and sort your evidence. Everyone has a different “sorting style.”

Formulate working arguments for your entire thesis and individual chapters. Once you’ve sorted your evidence, you need to spend some time thinking about your project’s “big picture.” You need to be able to answer two questions in specific terms:

  • What is the overall argument of my thesis?
  • What are the sub-arguments of each chapter and how do they relate to my main argument?

Keep in mind that “working arguments” may change after you start writing. But a senior thesis is big and potentially unwieldy. If you leave this business of argument to chance, you may end up with a tangle of ideas. See our handout on arguments and handout on thesis statements for some general advice on formulating arguments.

Divide your thesis into manageable chunks. The surest road to frustration at this stage is getting obsessed with the big picture. What? Didn’t we just say that you needed to focus on the big picture? Yes, by all means, yes. You do need to focus on the big picture in order to get a conceptual handle on your project, but you also need to break your thesis down into manageable chunks of writing. For example, take a small stack of note cards and flesh them out on paper. Or write through one point on a chapter outline. Those small bits of prose will add up quickly.

Just start! Even if it’s not at the beginning. Are you having trouble writing those first few pages of your chapter? Sometimes the introduction is the toughest place to start. You should have a rough idea of your overall argument before you begin writing one of the main chapters, but you might find it easier to start writing in the middle of a chapter of somewhere other than word one. Grab hold where you evidence is strongest and your ideas are clearest.

Keep up the momentum! Assuming the first draft won’t be your last draft, try to get your thoughts on paper without spending too much time fussing over minor stylistic concerns. At the drafting stage, it’s all about getting those ideas on paper. Once that task is done, you can turn your attention to revising.

Peter Elbow, in Writing With Power, suggests that writing is difficult because it requires two conflicting tasks: creating and criticizing. While these two tasks are intimately intertwined, the drafting stage focuses on creating, while revising requires criticizing. If you leave your revising to the last minute, then you’ve left out a crucial stage of the writing process. See our handout for some general tips on revising . The challenges of revising an honors thesis may include:

Juggling feedback from multiple readers

A senior thesis may mark the first time that you have had to juggle feedback from a wide range of readers:

  • your adviser
  • a second (and sometimes third) faculty reader
  • the professor and students in your honors thesis seminar

You may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of incorporating all this advice. Keep in mind that some advice is better than others. You will probably want to take most seriously the advice of your adviser since they carry the most weight in giving your project a stamp of approval. But sometimes your adviser may give you more advice than you can digest. If so, don’t be afraid to approach them—in a polite and cooperative spirit, of course—and ask for some help in prioritizing that advice. See our handout for some tips on getting and receiving feedback .

Refining your argument

It’s especially easy in writing a lengthy work to lose sight of your main ideas. So spend some time after you’ve drafted to go back and clarify your overall argument and the individual chapter arguments and make sure they match the evidence you present.

Organizing and reorganizing

Again, in writing a 50-75 page thesis, things can get jumbled. You may find it particularly helpful to make a “reverse outline” of each of your chapters. That will help you to see the big sections in your work and move things around so there’s a logical flow of ideas. See our handout on  organization  for more organizational suggestions and tips on making a reverse outline

Plugging in holes in your evidence

It’s unlikely that you anticipated everything you needed to look up before you drafted your thesis. Save some time at the revising stage to plug in the holes in your research. Make sure that you have both primary and secondary evidence to support and contextualize your main ideas.

Saving time for the small stuff

Even though your argument, evidence, and organization are most important, leave plenty of time to polish your prose. At this point, you’ve spent a very long time on your thesis. Don’t let minor blemishes (misspellings and incorrect grammar) distract your readers!

Formatting and final touches

You’re almost done! You’ve researched, drafted, and revised your thesis; now you need to take care of those pesky little formatting matters. An honors thesis should replicate—on a smaller scale—the appearance of a dissertation or master’s thesis. So, you need to include the “trappings” of a formal piece of academic work. For specific questions on formatting matters, check with your department to see if it has a style guide that you should use. For general formatting guidelines, consult the Graduate School’s Guide to Dissertations and Theses . Keeping in mind the caveat that you should always check with your department first about its stylistic guidelines, here’s a brief overview of the final “finishing touches” that you’ll need to put on your honors thesis:

  • Honors Thesis
  • Name of Department
  • University of North Carolina
  • These parts of the thesis will vary in format depending on whether your discipline uses MLA, APA, CBE, or Chicago (also known in its shortened version as Turabian) style. Whichever style you’re using, stick to the rules and be consistent. It might be helpful to buy an appropriate style guide. Or consult the UNC LibrariesYear Citations/footnotes and works cited/reference pages  citation tutorial
  • In addition, in the bottom left corner, you need to leave space for your adviser and faculty readers to sign their names. For example:

Approved by: _____________________

Adviser: Prof. Jane Doe

  • This is not a required component of an honors thesis. However, if you want to thank particular librarians, archivists, interviewees, and advisers, here’s the place to do it. You should include an acknowledgments page if you received a grant from the university or an outside agency that supported your research. It’s a good idea to acknowledge folks who helped you with a major project, but do not feel the need to go overboard with copious and flowery expressions of gratitude. You can—and should—always write additional thank-you notes to people who gave you assistance.
  • Formatted much like the table of contents.
  • You’ll need to save this until the end, because it needs to reflect your final pagination. Once you’ve made all changes to the body of the thesis, then type up your table of contents with the titles of each section aligned on the left and the page numbers on which those sections begin flush right.
  • Each page of your thesis needs a number, although not all page numbers are displayed. All pages that precede the first page of the main text (i.e., your introduction or chapter one) are numbered with small roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, etc.). All pages thereafter use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.).
  • Your text should be double spaced (except, in some cases, long excerpts of quoted material), in a 12 point font and a standard font style (e.g., Times New Roman). An honors thesis isn’t the place to experiment with funky fonts—they won’t enhance your work, they’ll only distract your readers.
  • In general, leave a one-inch inch margin on all sides. However, for the copy of your thesis that will be bound by the library, you need to leave a 1.25-inch margin on the left.

How do I defend my honors thesis?

Graciously, enthusiastically, and confidently. The term defense is scary and misleading—it conjures up images of a military exercise or an athletic maneuver. An academic defense ideally shouldn’t be a combative scene but a congenial conversation about the work’s merits and weaknesses. That said, the defense probably won’t be like the average conversation that you have with your friends. You’ll be the center of attention. And you may get some challenging questions. Thus, it’s a good idea to spend some time preparing yourself. First of all, you’ll want to prepare 5-10 minutes of opening comments. Here’s a good time to preempt some criticisms by frankly acknowledging what you think your work’s greatest strengths and weaknesses are. Then you may be asked some typical questions:

  • What is the main argument of your thesis?
  • How does it fit in with the work of Ms. Famous Scholar?
  • Have you read the work of Mr. Important Author?

NOTE: Don’t get too flustered if you haven’t! Most scholars have their favorite authors and books and may bring one or more of them up, even if the person or book is only tangentially related to the topic at hand. Should you get this question, answer honestly and simply jot down the title or the author’s name for future reference. No one expects you to have read everything that’s out there.

  • Why did you choose this particular case study to explore your topic?
  • If you were to expand this project in graduate school, how would you do so?

Should you get some biting criticism of your work, try not to get defensive. Yes, this is a defense, but you’ll probably only fan the flames if you lose your cool. Keep in mind that all academic work has flaws or weaknesses, and you can be sure that your professors have received criticisms of their own work. It’s part of the academic enterprise. Accept criticism graciously and learn from it. If you receive criticism that is unfair, stand up for yourself confidently, but in a good spirit. Above all, try to have fun! A defense is a rare opportunity to have eminent scholars in your field focus on YOU and your ideas and work. And the defense marks the end of a long and arduous journey. You have every right to be proud of your accomplishments!

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Atchity, Kenneth. 1986. A Writer’s Time: A Guide to the Creative Process from Vision Through Revision . New York: W.W. Norton.

Barzun, Jacques, and Henry F. Graff. 2012. The Modern Researcher , 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Elbow, Peter. 1998. Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process . New York: Oxford University Press.

Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. 2014. “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing , 3rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

Lamott, Anne. 1994. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life . New York: Pantheon.

Lasch, Christopher. 2002. Plain Style: A Guide to Written English. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Turabian, Kate. 2018. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, Dissertations , 9th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Make a Gift

Calculate for all schools

Your chance of acceptance, your chancing factors, extracurriculars, honors application essay.

I'm applying to my school's honors program, and I'm supposed to write an application essay. What kind of topic should I choose to make an impression? Any examples of successful essays you can share?

When choosing a topic for your honors program application essay, you'll want to demonstrate your intellectual curiosity, passion for learning, and what makes you a strong candidate for the program. A successful essay will showcase your unique perspective, critical thinking skills, and ability to communicate effectively.

As you brainstorm potential topics, think about experiences or aspects of your academic journey that showcase your dedication to learning and personal development. Some possible avenues to explore might include:

1. A subject or project that challenged you and inspired personal growth. Explain how you persevered, what you learned, and how it has influenced your academic interests or goals.

2. A meaningful collaboration with a teacher, mentor, or peer that had a significant impact on your intellectual development or academic pursuits. Discuss how the collaboration not only deepened your understanding of a subject but also taught you the value of teamwork, open-mindedness, or dedication.

3. An insight or idea from one of your academic subjects (or from a combination of subjects) that has stuck with you and inspired further exploration, research, or innovation. Your essay can focus on the mechanisms of your curiosity and how pursuing this idea fostered your intellectual growth.

4. Your experience engaging with a specific issue or topic outside of the classroom, such as through research, community service, or extracurricular activities. This essay can be centered on how these endeavors enriched your understanding of the broader world and your place in it.

Regardless of which topic you choose, be sure to make your essay personal and authentic. Use specific examples and anecdotes to illustrate your points and give the reader insight into your motivations and passions. Don't be afraid to show vulnerability and discuss any challenges you've faced, but always be sure to emphasize how they've contributed to your growth.

Remember, your essay is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from other applicants and prove why you are an ideal candidate for the honors program. By focusing on your unique experiences and intellectual journey with one of the above topics (or one that better reflects your specific interests), you'll have a better chance of making a strong impression on the admissions committee.

Happy writing!

About CollegeVine’s Expert FAQ

CollegeVine’s Q&A seeks to offer informed perspectives on commonly asked admissions questions. Every answer is refined and validated by our team of admissions experts to ensure it resonates with trusted knowledge in the field.

Quick links

  • Make a Gift
  • Directories

English Honors Program

The English Honors Program is open to applicants who have shown exceptional ability in English. English Honors is designed to expand and intensify the academic experiences of advanced English majors through completion of a three-quarter, cohort-based program. The program builds a community of  undergraduate scholars within the English Department, providing them with opportunities to work closely with UW professors in independent study and research, and with special events such as lectures and receptions.

  • This Year's Honors Faculty and Topics
  • Previous Years' Faculty and Topics
  • Admission s

Advising and Administration

Requirements and satisfactory progress.

  • ENGL 496: Major Conference for Honors (Honors Thesis)
  • Past honors graduates and thesis projects

The Value of English Honors

Other honors.

  • Undergraduate Research, Symposia, Conferences,

2024 - 2025 Honors Program

Laura Chrisman

Douglas Ishii

Colette Moore

Alys Weinbaum                     

Fall seminars  

Marxist American Culture: Writing, Art, and Political Activism, Prof. Laura Chrisman

The 1930s saw an explosion of cultural production by artists associated with revolutionary social movements. This course looks at a  cross-section of that work, considering a range of innovative fiction, poetry, journalism, theory, and multimodal (textual/visual) materials. It involves close reading, archival research, and a willingness to interrogate the anti-communist assumptions that became entrenched in American political and academic life during the Cold War and continue into the 21st century. The course materials foreground the contributions of Black, Jewish, and women artists, and considers the at times conflicted and at times symbiotic relationship of modernist experimentation and social realism, the interplay of class, race, and gender, and the shifting meanings of 'the people' and 'the folk'. Primary texts may include works by Hugo Gellert, Margaret Walker, Muriel Rukeyser, Langston Hughes, Mike Gold, Richard Wright, Meridel Le Sueur,  and Clifford Odets.

Fulfills Historical Depth or Power and Difference distribution area.

  Race, Gender, and U.S. Pop Music after 1965, Prof. Douglas Ishii

This Honors seminar will interpret and theorize a form of everyday culture: popular music.  Its centrality to collective memory suggests its power to shape cultural imaginaries, yet its ubiquity belies its power to reflect and refract dominant ideologies.  It is by now a truism that the history of U.S. pop music is a history of race.  This seminar engages difference after the 1965 Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, and Immigration and Nationality Act, when sanctioned racism supposedly ended, through an intersectional analysis of pop genres to query histories of the present.  Genre, as theorists of race, gender, and sexuality have illustrated, is not a value-neutral description, but is a system of classification that ties taxonomies of art to the taxonomies of people.  We will ask: How do genres, despite music’s celebration as universal or transcendent, reveal contexts and tensions that linger in the act of listening?  How do genre categories set expectations of what (and whom) we’re hearing as a result of institutions, industries, and social systems?  How have artists, critics, and scholars addressed these prescriptive and limiting understanding of genres?

Taking specific genres as flashpoints, we will survey a range of scholarship, journalism, essays, interviews, albums, and music videos using cultural studies as a method toward unraveling how cultural power has been naturalized through constructions of difference.  We will apply theoretical frameworks from across the study of language, literature, and culture to which you have likely been exposed, such as cultural materialism, Black feminism, new historicism, queer theory, and postcolonial thought.  We will think about how writing about music engages multiple publics through multiple genres, as well as the relevance of cultural and literary studies toward that end.  Assessments will apply the methodological concerns of this seminar, with the intention of practicing skills toward preparing for the Honors thesis.

Fulfills Power and Difference or Genre, Method, and Language distribution areas. 

Winter Seminars 

Literary Texts and Vernacular English, Prof. Colette Moore

Literary texts are a unique resource for representing spoken varieties of English. In a practice that goes back as far as Chaucer's Reeve's Tale, authors have written poetry and fiction that uses spelling and grammar to recreate features of spoken language that diverge from "standard" written English: called dialect literature, dialect poetry, or nation language (a term offered by the Caribbean poet Kamau Brathwaite). Literary writing, therefore, can be a form of resistance; one that celebrates and promotes local and community-based kinds of English.

This course explores Anglophone literary works that depict global and local varieties of English in their use of language. The choice of language in literary works reflects the cultural legacy of power relationships: whose English gets centered in standardizing practices and whose English gets marginalized; by extension, the question of whose English is being represented and how it is depicted is critical to literary interpretation. We will encounter the cultural environments that frame language choice as a stylistic strategy, charting broad concerns such as nationhood, coloniality/decoloniality, diaspora, race, community, language contact, memory, and identity.

Dialect literature is not always approachable, as Debbie Taylor writes in The Guardian, "Reading work in dialect demands a commitment on the part of the reader, which is as much political as it is artistic. It requires us to stray off the beaten track of received pronunciation and mainstream literature, with its complete words and nicely structured sentences, and into [a] rough and ready linguistic world." But such choices can be engaging and entertaining as well; these works are powerful and fun to read. Authors and poets might include Edmund Spenser, Robert Burns, Mark Twain, Louise Bennett-Coverley, George Washington Harris, Tom Leonard, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Mutabaruka, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Junot Díaz, Amitav Ghosh. We will also look at some discussions of the place of vernacular literature in Kamau Brathwaite, William Wordsworth, Gloria Anzaldúa, Thomas Macaulay and others.

This class will satisfy the English major requirement for historical depth, pre-1945 or the genre, method, and language requirement. 

Dystopia and the Question of History, Prof. Alys Weinbaum

This honors seminar hones in on dystopian fiction, one of today’s most popular genres (think The Handmaid’s Tale or The Hunger Games).  It examines how dystopic representations (both mainstream and less well known) can be read as critiques of current social and political formations, national and global cultures, capitalist processes, and dominant ideas about gender, race, sexuality and class—that is, the collection of ideas that comprise the hegemonic, or “natural” order of things.  “The question of history” in the course title is not really a single question, but rather a series of interrelated questions about how the past is invoked in dystopian fiction, how this fiction engages (and perhaps theorizes?) the complex unfolding of history, and how real dystopian pasts (those that have actually been experienced by some) are recirculated, morphed, and critically examined in and through fictional representations.  Of special concern will be the treatment of Atlantic slavery, settler colonialism, climate disaster, the holocaust of World War II and the modern ascent of fascism.  How are these histories brought into dystopian texts and to what end?  How are they disaggregated and/or constellated and to what end?  Throughout the quarter we will treat a range of theoretical and critical writings that will help us to explore the conventions of the genre, debates about the narration of history, and those about the depiction of collective trauma. While dystopian representations can be bleak, some Marxist critics have argued that they are also illuminating and inspiring insofar as they catalyze unique forms of critical thinking about our present moment of reading.  Indeed, some have argued that dystopian fictions contribute to changes in consciousness, and, ideally, to social transformation—an argument we will weigh carefully as we read. Overall, we will attempt to stay afloat in our bleak present by locating the utopian impulses that lie within dystopian fictions and/or in our collective analysis of them.

Fulfills Genre, Method, and Language or Power and Difference distribution area. 

2023-24 Honors Faculty

Janelle Rodriques

Jesse Oak Taylor

Jeffrey Knight

Frances McCue

2023-24 Honors Topic: Literature & Extraction

This year’s theme explores literature’s entanglements with the concept of ‘extraction,’ understood in multiple senses: the extraction of materials from the earth; the extraction of meaning in poetry, prose, and drama; and extraction in the sense of lineage or kinship. We will explore the idea that literary art is at once extractive and resistant to extractivism: after all, while literature draws upon material resources, it does not exhaust them. We will also think about how meaning is “extracted” from a text, what is gained or lost when we select certain features over others, and how ideas, words, and cultural artifacts are repurposed in different contexts. These courses will showcase how literary reading both participates in and resists the extractive logic of capitalism and empire, and how it opens into questions of kinship and relation, heritage and tradition, offering a chance to think about literature as at once extracted from the world and a means of imagining new worlds into being.

Brief seminar descriptions below:

Sun, Sand, Sea and Sex? Critiquing Literary Tourism in the Peri-Disaster Caribbean

In this seminar, we will read fiction and criticism that both construct and deconstruct the modern Caribbean as a site of pleasure and paradise. We will explore the contingency of leisure on labour, and the relations between the tourist encounter and that of ‘explorer,’ ‘coloniser’ and ‘native.’

Novel Ecologies: Fiction in an Age of Extraction

Victorian Britain was the first fossil fueled society, a pivotal threshold in Earth’s history that we now recognize to be the dawn of a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. In this course, we will explore the way this epochal shift in both ideas and the Earth system registers in fiction. While storytelling is among the oldest of human art forms, the novel rose to prominence in the midst of the social and ecological transformation of the planet wrought by empire and industrialization. Our discussions will plumb the geohistorical imaginary of Victorian fiction, while also asking what it means to read these novels now , as we attempt to sever the connection to fossil fuels and imagine new worlds into being in the midst of climate emergency and ecosystem collapse. Readings will include Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone  (1868), Bram Stoker's  Dracula  (1897), Joseph Conrad's  Nostromo  (1902), and R. F. Kuang's Babel: An Arcane History  (2022), alongside supplemental material in ecocriticism and the energy humanities. This course fulfills the Department’s Historical Depth requirement (pre-1945).

Loving and Hating (in) Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice is at once Shakespeare’s most modern play and his most problematic one. Ostensibly it’s a comedy about risk and reward (i.e., love) in the nascent economic system of global capitalism. But from its very first words, the play gives us something else entirely—something dark and unsettling, a drama of mental illness, proscribed sexuality, racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, sham justice, and forced assimilation. By the end, the play seems ambivalent about itself, at best. We are ambivalent about it too, as we should be. This is an honors course in slow, intensive reading. Our objective will be to take a single text as an entry point not only to Shakespeare’s world—and to a pivotal moment in Shakespeare’s career, presaging the turn to tragedy—but also to broader questions about literary and cultural history: most centrally, what should we do with artworks from the past that convey painful or offensive ideas? After we read and watch the play once or twice, we will proceed through project-based units on Shakespeare’s sources and archetypes, the historical context, and the play’s stage and reception history. Readings will include excerpted primary works by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and secondary works by modern critics and theorists. Evaluation will be based on seminar participation, short presentations, and an essay. Credit for this course can apply toward the “Historical Depth” (pre-1700) distribution area in the English major. The course is designed to be welcoming and intellectually productive not just for lovers of Shakespeare but for haters of him too.

Documentary Poetics and Other Craft Assemblages in Verse

Frances McCue This course will bring us to poems assembled from bits of journalism, witness statements and other artifacts so that we can explore how these extractions create poetic worlds. We will also look at “telestitching” and other methods that poets use to create poems that honor legacies and question responses to  environmental and historical events. We will create our own poetic assemblages and write short papers about the work of other writers.

Francis McCue

2022-23 Honors Topic

Honors 2022-2023: Imagined Worlds/Possible Worlds

In this course sequence, the ‘speculative’ frames our consideration of imagined and possible worlds. As a framework, the speculative supports numerous concerns, including the production and evolution of narrative genres, such as Arthurian romance, utopian and dystopian fiction, Afrofuturism, and science fiction. Yet, it also supports inquiries about speculative aspects of narratives and objects that represent the real world as we know it. Further still, it frames a variety of critical approaches to reading and interpreting texts, thinking about historical pasts and potential futures. To speculate about what is possible, or to imagine modes of social existence and realities that are not (yet) our own, requires an account of what constitutes the “real,” knowable world. Thus, as part of our collective task, we will examine the underlying presumptions that determine how “worlds” (both imaginary ones and geopolitical realities) and “time” (the past, present, and future) are entangled with each other, and with particular ways of knowing. By engaging with a wide range of textual forms and genres, we will explore what the cultural imagination reveals about visions of social justice, along with the collective desires and aspirations that arise at any given historical moment. With a speculative framework for analyzing culture, we will be attuned to both dominant and nascent expressions of world-building projects, along with what—in another time and place—reality could be.

Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges’s course, “Speculative Worlds,” focuses on the possibilities and limitations of imagined worlds. As we read, view, and immerse ourselves in a range of textual forms—including novels, film, games, and XR narratives—we will explore how texts build imagined worlds, how we position or resist positioning ourselves within imagined worlds, and how we create our own imagined worlds. We will also investigate the contexts shaping speculative worlds, asking how imagined worlds intersect with historical and current realities, showing us institutions, modes of existence, and social structures we have yet to experience. In doing so, we will also consider the limitations of imagined worlds, asking whose speculative worlds receive broad distribution and what different audiences seek—and perhaps do not find—in speculative worlds.

Habiba Ibrahim’ s course, “Imagining Being and Time,” explores how African-American and Black diasporic literary and cultural forms navigate modern conditions for being human by revisiting the historical past and speculating about potential futures. By engaging with a variety of genres and forms, the course tracks the problem of “being” through enslavement, colonialism, and nationalism, while it focuses on where alternative modes of life emerge in the Black literary and cultural imagination.      

Gillian Harkins’s course “Uncommon Senses” will explore changing concepts of common sense, asking how specific approaches to sense-making and sensation, as well as embodiment and imagination, shape what is perceived as possible or real.  Using a range of literary and visual texts, we will ask whose sense, where, and when is considered “common” (more than an isolated experience) and what different experiential commons might be.  This exploration will review Cultural Studies approaches to capitalism, colonialism and imperialism as well as race, gender, sexuality, and embodiment. 

Kate Norako’s Course, “Premodern Worldbuilding” investigates the ways in which medieval English writers conjured aspirational worlds across a variety of genres and textual forms: from mappae mundi and travel narratives, to Arthurian romance, to allegorical prose and verse (e.g. Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies and Langland’s Piers Plowman ). Central to our work will be discerning the implications of these acts of imagination: who and what is included/excluded? To what extent does medieval English worldbuilding require not only creation but erasure? And what aspects of this premodern worldbuilding persist in our present?

2022-23 Honors Faculty

Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges

Habiba Ibrahim

Kate Norako

2021-22 Honors Topic

Literary Genres and Social Transformation

English Honors Sequence 2021-2022

Artistic genres both reflect and create social transformation.  For instance, literary scholars and historians agree that the modern novel developed in response to a number of social, political and economic factors resulting in the wider spread of literacy and ideas about individualism, and that, by turn, it altered subsequent reading practices and conceptions of selfhood. This dynamic between reflecting a changing society and creating social change will be equally obvious of other genres and subgenres: of television sitcoms, of slam poetry, of newspaper editorials, of presidential inaugural addresses (which may of course be further subdivided by political party), and so forth.  Genres themselves may include cultural transformations, as we see in examples of the narrative essay or the lyric poem as they are re-made by Claudia Rankine and Zaina Alsous.  But genres can also be challenged by cultural transformation, revealing the limits of modes of representation that embed specific cultural values in the form itself.

This honors sequence will introduce students to a wide variety of texts and theories to explore how social transformation gets registered and created by literary genres.  In order to help create intellectual continuity for students, the AQ courses taught by Professors Kaup and Liu will feature Herman Melville's novella *Benito Cereno* (1855), and the WQ courses taught by Professors Chrisman and LaPorte will include Eve Ewing's new book of poems, *1919* (2019).

Professor Kaup’s “The Novel and the Sea” (AQ 21) examines fiction set on waterways and maritime spaces from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) to Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide (2004). It shows how the literary representation of aquatic worlds shaped--and is shaped by--social phenomena such as transnational exploration and adventure, colonialism and slavery, and globalization and climate change.  Professor Liu’s “Genre and Social Transformation” (AQ 21) will look at various genres of fiction (like graphic novels, novels, short stories), nonfiction (like podcasts, creative nonfiction, personal narrative, inaugural addresses), and performance (like standup comedy) to think through how genre makes possible, as well as disciplines, cultural transformations in perception of race, gender, and sexuality. To honor the creative spark at the heart of all genre production, students will have the opportunity to practice thinking, writing, and creating in different genres.  Professor Chrisman's "Imagining the Past: Black Historical Fictions" engages with the genre of the historical novel, which has long held an important place in global Black literary production. The course will consider fiction by African and Black diasporic writers that adapts and experiments with the genre, in order to probe the experience of empire, enslavement, resistance, migration, and nation-building. Professor LaPorte's "Genre and Social Transformation in Historical Literature" will look at fiction, poetry, and non-fiction from the nineteenth and early twentieth century to think about the ways that literature influenced and created our ideas about human rights.  

2021-22 Honors Faculty

Monika Kaup

Charles LaPorte

Michelle Liu

2020-21 Honors Topic

Stories In and Out of Place

English Honors Theme 2020-2021

Stories move. They take on lives of their own, and acquire meanings their authors couldn’t have imagined in distant times and places. Stories also stay put, they help root communities in place across centuries. They orient travellers in unfamiliar lands; they connect us to distant places and people we may never meet face to face. They are carried on the breath, on the stage, through undersea cables and across pages and screens. As readers, listeners, and storytellers, the stories we encounter, remember, interpret and pass on inform our perception of the world around us, the futures we imagine into being and the pasts we consider worthy of commemoration.

The courses linked under this theme think about storytelling as both in place and out of place, not only in terms of how stories themselves and the media through which they are conveyed alter, but also the routes through which stories travel and the roots that hold them in place. They ask why certain stories belong to/in certain places and what happens when they are dis- or re-placed. They explore how stories create places and places create stories, whether in storied landscapes or virtual worlds.

2020-21 Honors Faculty

Alys Weinbaum

Juliet Shields

2019-20 Honors Topic

The Honors courses in 2019-2020 will take as their shared thematic focus what might be loosely described as the crisis of progressive time.  In many ways, the modern epoch has been defined by the idea of humanity collectively building a future that improves on the past, in a forward trajectory that tends toward reason, equity, productivity, and technological innovation.  From its inception, this narrative of human progress has collided with competing conceptions of time, many of them forged in the political, economic, and environmental violence that the will-to-progress itself unleashes.  After all, the very insistence on progress generates the idea of backwardness, of peoples and places that must be forcibly subjected to the (supposedly) civilization-building programs of others.   But the idea of progress is perhaps never more in crisis than in our own historical moment, where human misery seems ascendant rather than declining, as qualify of life and of prospects decays across most regions of the globe, and where climate change beckons an existential crisis already underway.

The courses in this sequence are variously concerned with alternative temporalities – alternate ways of thinking our histories, inhabiting our present, and conceiving our futures.  They will consider how old and new emergencies impel and inform new modes of attention to history;  they will highlight narrative forms that refuse the compression of the present into a seemingly singular (or coherent) time;  they will encompass narratives of extinction but also of post-apocalyptic worlds in which radically different forms of human survival and sociality might emerge.

2019-20 Honors Faculty

Jeff Knight

Mark Patterson

2018-19 Honors Topics

Honors 2018-19: Poesis as Place The term poesis describes the process of making.  Derived from Ancient Greek, poesis names cultural or aesthetic activity that brings something into existence.  This Honors sequence explores how poesis relates to place, in particular how various forms, media, and practices of cultural work create place as experience, environment, and territory.  Each course will ask how poetry, novels, performances, or visual texts create a sense of place ranging across the personal and the political.   Our focus will remain on the ways complex political, aesthetic, and epistemological issues are transacted through a poesis of place, or even poesis as place, to see how the contemporary world emerges from longer genealogies of cultural making. In keeping with this historical overview, several of our courses will disclose how a sense of place which seems objective, settled and inert can mutate dramatically over time in response to alternative styles of map-making, shifting political and social agendas, changes in aesthetics, and how these may compete with—and even seek to repress—various kinds of counter-memory. In totality, this quartet of courses reach back into the settler colonial origins of the U.S. and modernist U.K. nostalgia for a rural past through the diverse poetic and narrative experiments associated with late modernism and colonialism from the 1960s onward. 

In “Haunted Landscapes: Sense of Place in Nineteenth-Century America,” Bob Abrams will examine sense of place in nineteenth-century U.S. literature and culture, including a look backward at the precariousness of sense of place at the troubled origins of British colonial America, initial collisions between white colonial and native tribal spatial imaginaries, and other ways in which sense of place remains unsettled throughout nineteenth-century American writing, cartography and painting . In her course “The ‘Shrinking Island’: Changing Responses to Place in 20th Century British Fiction,” Sydney Kaplan will turn to the sense of place created in early twentieth century British fiction, taking up such issues as nostalgia for ‘olde England’ amidst the realities of industrialization and its effect on the landscape, regionalism, and the dominance of the city. In “Triggering Town: The Poetics of Place in a Globalized World,” Frances McCue will engage the concept of the ‘trigging town,’ poet Richard Hugo’s name for places as method to help poets begin new poems, in order to consider shifting conditions of locality and globalization in post-1960s poems of North Cascadia. And in “Neverland: U.S. Empire and the Poesis of Displacement,” Gillian Harkins will explore post-1968 narrative forms generated in or about the United States, asking how experimental narratives about neo-colonial and imperial imaginaries of place-making transform the fictions of nationalized space. 

2018-19 Honors Faculty

Robert Abrams

Gillian Harkins

Sydney Kaplan

2017-18 Honors Faculty and Topics

Humanism and its Discontents

This honors sequence focuses on “Humanism and its Discontents.” Each seminar will explore the cultural production and political struggles that surround the category of “the human" and its many exclusions. All seminars will include engagement with theoretical and literary critical texts that offer ways of situating literature and other forms of cultural production in relation to changing historical and social conditions.  Depending upon each seminar’s historical foci, course materials will reach back into the nineteenth century and forward into the twenty-first. Topics will include settler colonialism, racial slavery, genocide, imperialism, capitalism, sex/gender hierarchies, ecology, and regimes of sexual and bodily normalization. 

Each seminar will be reading and writing intensive and will result in the production of a final research paper or related research based project.  The honors course sequence seeks to provide students with the following skills, important to successful work in advanced literary and cultural studies:

*Ability to close read primary texts––literary, visual, and theoretical

*Ability to enter into constructive and confident discussion about course materials with one’s peers

*Ability to close read critical and philosophical texts and place them into conversation with each other

*Ability to close read cultural, political, literary, visual, and theoretical texts as primary sources that are in conversation across genres and idioms of expression

*Ability to summarize a text’s main claims and evaluate them critically

*Ability to formulate a distinct critical perspective of one’s own

*Ability to situate one’s own ideas and readings within larger critical and political conversations

*Ability to formulate in writing one’s intuitions and emergent ideas

*Ability to produce a coherent and complex argument in writing based on evidence and research

2017-18 Honors Faculty

Stephanie Clare

2016-17 Honors Faculty and Topics

Topic: "Identities and Modernities"

For hundreds of years, anglophone literature has regularly and self-consciously reflected on its own "modernity."   From the start, however, the relationship between identity and the modern has been vexed.  What exactly does our "modernity" distinguish itself from: the traditional, the pre-industrial, the bucolic, the ancient, the religious, the medieval, the Utopian, the "primitive"?  Such questions might show us the difficulty, even the speciousness, of such distinctions.  Further, our conceptions of identity are framed via notions of "the modern," even when those notions are plural and global.  We might say that the modern is a heuristic that enables certain literary discourses to take shape, the sine qua non of our literary and cultural endeavors.

The four honors courses in this sequence aspire to introduce students to different ways of conceiving of the intersection of identity and the modern.  Our hope is that the courses will prove individually fruitful and dovetail with one another in productive ways.

2016-17 Honors Faculty

Kate Cummings

Louis Chude Sokei

2015-16 Honors Faculty and Topics

Topic: "Adaptations"

Adaptation derives from the Latin adaptare , “to fit.” Adaptations enable a thing, person, organism, or idea to fit new or changing circumstances. In biological terms, adaptation refers to the process by which individual mutations enable organisms to fit better into their ecosystem, giving them a comparative advantage and thus ultimately leading to the ongoing evolution of species. Adaptation also occurs at the level of the individual, as we alter our behaviors, tastes, and expectations to fit the world around us. Adaptation also refers to the way that different cultures modify ideas, objects, and practices to fit their own, ever-changing, needs. New technologies arise by repurposing existing tools, or combining them in new ways that in turn create new possibilities that demand new innovations.

In literary terms, authors adapt their own experiences of the world into their work. They also adapt the work of others, playing with genre expectations, established storylines, familiar devices, and even familiar characters. No work of literature--for that matter, no cultural practice or species--is entirely new and original. Instead, all literature arises at least in part out of a process of adapting what has come before into new forms, new contexts, new meanings, and new purposes. Even individual works may be said to adapt, as they take on new meanings when read in context different from those in which they were written, while we speak explicitly of “adapting” books for the stage or the screen.

This year’s English Honors courses will explore the theme of “adaptation” as broadly construed in literary studies. Different courses will trace adaptations of form, of genre, or of specific works across diverse times periods and contexts. In the process, we will discuss the implications of considering adaptation as a process at once aesthetic, ecological, political, and cultural that enables us to think about the persistence and efficacy of literary and cultural practice, and the ways in which different periods, authors, nations, and traditions relate to one another.

2015-16 Honors Faculty

2014-15 honors faculty and topics.

"Form and Politics of Narrative"

How can narrative form and voice tell a story hidden behind the more apparent story? To what extent does the style of a genre have a particular politics? Do forms of narrative themselves have a history? What about narratives that break the boundaries of readers' expectations? How might form and politics affect the making of personal narratives? This year the four courses in our honors sequence will take up such questions with a focus on the form and politics of narrative in literature, film, and popular culture. We will cover a wide range of texts, both written and visual, in historical periods from the eighteenth century to the present.

The honors sequence will work to provide students with the following skills, important to successful work in literary and cultural study:

  • close or careful reading of primary textual evidence;
  • close or careful reading of critical academic prose;
  • ability to summarize the main claims of an academic essay;
  • ability to assess and respond to the main claims of an academic essay;
  • ability to situate oneself in a critical conversation;
  • ability to formulate a distinct critical perspective;
  • ability to create a logically coherent and complex thesis;
  • ability to develop a coherent and sustained argument to support that thesis.

2014-15 Honors Faculty

Carolyn Allen

Eva Cherniavsky

Gary Handwerk

Thomas Lockwood

2013-14 Honors Faculty and Topics

"Literature and Politics "

This Honors sequence focuses on “literature and politics.” Each seminar will explore the relationship between cultural production and political struggle, with a specific focus on the role of literature. All honors seminars will include theoretical and literary critical texts that offer ways of situating literature in relation to changing historical and social conditions. Course materials will reach back into the nineteenth century and forward into the twenty-first. Topics include settler colonialism, slavery, genocide, imperialism, capitalism, sex/gender hierarchies, and regimes of sexual and bodily normalization. Each seminar will be writing intensive and will result in the production of a final research paper. The honors sequence will work to provide students with the following skills, important to successful work in literary and cultural study:

2013-2014 Honors Faculty

Katherine Cummings

Chandan Reddy

Previous years' faculty and topics:

2012-2013: "Cultural Forms and Social Change" (Faculty: Gillian Harkins, Kate Cummings, Charles LaPorte, Juliet Shields, Caroline Simpson)

2011-2012: "Narratives of Time and Space: Memory, Dislocation and Emotion" (Faculty: Carolyn Allen, Sydney Kaplan, Monika Kaup, Mark Patterson)

2010-2011: "Technologies of Textual Representation" (Faculty: Tom Foster, Laurie George, Tom Lockwood, Miceál Vaughan)

2009-2010: "Aesthetics and Politics" (Faculty: Gillian Harkins, Laura Chrisman, Eva Cherniavsky, Alys Weinbaum)

2008-2009: "History and Imagination" (Faculty: Herbert Blau, Sydney Kaplan, Tom Lockwood, Michelle Liu)

2007-2008: "Reading Genres of (Post)Modernity" (Faculty: Carolyn Allen, Tom Foster, Charles LaPorte, Nikolai Popov)

2006-2007: "The Object(s) of Literature" (Faculty: Sydney Kaplan, Mark Patterson, Shawn Wong, Laura Chrisman)

2005-2006: "Aesthetics and Politics" (Faculty: Alys Weinbaum, Mark Patterson, Chandan Reddy, Zahid Chaudhary)

For further details on prior year honors seminars, see the Department's quarterly course descriptions .

Application to the English Honors Cohort is competitive. Applications are accepted annually after winter quarter grades have been posted.  Submit your honors application as a single PDF by 4pm Monday, April 22, 2024.

This application will be for academic year 2024-25. Space is limited. Meeting minimum eligibility requirements, or being a member of the College Honors Program , does not guarantee admission. Selection takes place through the competitive admission process, which includes the application form and a personal statement.

Students usually enter English Honors when they have Junior standing, with an average of 115-135 credits earned.  A cohort of approximately 30 students will be admitted during spring quarter, and must complete the program in residence over autumn, winter, and spring quarters of the following academic year.

To be eligible for English Honors, all students must be declared English majors who apply in spring quarter for the following Autumn's English Honors cohort, and must have:

  • completed at least two quarters at the UW
  • completed at least 15 credits of UW English courses at the 200-level or above
  • completed ENGL 302, or be planning to complete it in Spring or Summer quarter, before beginning the Honors program in the Autumn
  • a minimum UW cumulative GPA of 3.3
  • a minimum UW English GPA of 3.7 (in courses at the 200-level and above) Students who fail to meet this GPA requirement but who feel that there are mitigating circumstances, such as having taken a group of exceptionally difficult courses or having undergone a period of personal difficulty resulting in a lowered GPA, may petition the department Director of Undergraduate Programs for special consideration.
  • at least three remaining quarters in residence at the UW: students in the Honors Program must take English honors courses on campus in Autumn, Winter, and Spring.
  • what do you hope to gain by participating in the English Honors Program?
  • please describe a good learning experience you have had while pursuing the English major and discuss how it informed your decision to apply to Honors

View/print the honors application

All new English Honors students are encouraged to meet and consult with the English Department faculty and staff members who administer the Honors Program:

Professor Stephanie Clare, Director of Undergraduate Programs and English Honors Padelford A-419;  [email protected]

Stephanie Clare receives applications, maintain academic progress files for Honors students, issue add codes and provide supplemental registration assistance and academic planning.  They are available to discuss intellectual topics, scholarly activities, and academic interests and plans with students. They also make decisions regarding student requests for exceptions to Honors policies and procedures, and reviews applications for readmission after dismissal.

Read an article about the English Honors Program featured on the University Honors website.

Students who successfully complete both the College Honors and the English Honors programs will be graduated With College Honors in English .  Students successfully completing the English Department Honors program only will be graduated With Honors in English .  These Honors are posted to the UW transcript.  To graduate With Honors in English , students must complete all required English Honors courses and maintain a minimum UW cumulative GPA of 3.3 and UW English GPA of 3.7.

WARNING : Students who have not completed all Honors requirements by their scheduled graduation date must request that the graduation date be postponed if he or she still desires to graduate with Honors. Once the degree is posted, no changes can be made to the transcript, and Honors will be forfeited.

English Honors course work consists of two honors seminars (ENGL 494), one taken in Autumn and one in Winter, followed by the writing of an honors thesis in the Spring (ENGL 496).

A total of four honors seminars are offered each year, two in Autumn and two in Winter, taught by a total of four faculty members. The four seminars are linked by a theme of question, to be decided on by the participating faculty. Examples of the broadest themes or questions include" "Literature of Empire"; "Textual Studies"; "Literature and Other Arts"; "What is Modernity?"; "What is Literary History?"

Two of the four honors faculty will elect to be available in the Spring to oversee the approximately 40 honors essays. (Students may also choose to work with other professors as well, either because of an existing mentoring relationship, or because of scholarly expertise. Students completing the creative writing pathway may also choose to do a creative project under the direction of an appropriate faculty member.) There will be a meeting time and room scheduled for the thesis course(s), though the supervising faculty are free to organize the course as they would like.

Honors course work may not be “doubled up,” nor may the courses be taken out of sequence, though Honors coursework may overlap with English major requirements where appropriate.

An add code for the following course in the Honors sequence will not be issued if there is an incomplete grade or failing grade on the student’s record for the previous Honors course.  For example, if an “I” appears for ENGL 494 in Autumn Quarter, an add code for ENGL 494 for the upcoming Winter Quarter will not be issued until the incomplete grade is resolved.  This may result in being shut out of a desired seminar or being dismissed from the program if the incomplete converts to a 0.0.  If at any time after admission a student’s grades fall below these minimum standards, he or she will be dismissed from the program.  Students who have been dropped for unsatisfactory scholarship may reapply for admission at a later date if minimum GPA requirements are attained.  All second applications must be accompanied by a letter of petition and two letters of recommendation from English faculty.


Registration for English Honors courses is by add code only.  Add codes may be obtained Suman Chhabra ( [email protected] ). Add codes for honors courses are generally issued on a first-come, first-served basis on the first day of regular senior registration. Every quarter, honors students will receive email instructions on how to attain add codes.

Applying Honors Courses to English Major Requirements

Honors courses may be applied to major requirements in a number of ways. Any Honors course may be used to satisfy English major elective requirements, although this works most efficiently for students following the major with an emphasis in literature.  Any Honors Seminar, if defined appropriately , may be used to satisfy any requirement in the English major.  For example, if the topic of one of your Senior Seminars is “Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group,” it is very likely that it satisfies a History of Language and Literature core requirement.  ENGL 496 will not fulfill the 400 level creative writing electives, but 496 could (depending on the topic) apply to historical breadth or power and difference for an honors creative writing major.  For approval of Honors courses for specific requirements, consult with a HAS adviser in PDL A-2-B.

Honors students will use ENGL 496 Major Conference for Honors as their 400-level senior capstone course.

ENGL 496:  Major Conference for Honors

The Major Conference for Honors requires a thesis project, a substantive essay, usually 20-30 pages, but sometimes longer.  Broadly speaking, the thesis is a complex piece of research-based  literary analysis, criticism, theory, or other critical work related to English.  Although most people choose literary topics, students are also welcome to do thesis work in English language study (linguistics), rhetoric and composition, cultural studies, film studies, and other emerging areas of the discipline.  The Honors thesis should aspire to the level of a good graduate term paper.  To approach this level of competence, it should have the following characteristics:

  • A clear, significant thesis that is fully developed, coherent, and free from major flaws in reasoning.
  • Arguments based on textual evidence and grounded in attentive close reading.
  • An engagement in the “critical conversation” that takes the essay beyond a competent close reading.  Authoritative use of secondary sources that does not use the arguments of others in place of original thought or amount to nothing but a review of the criticism.
  • A clear and consistent critical perspective that reflects an awareness of theoretical concerns.
  • Effective organization that demonstrates purposefulness, a logical progression of thought, and rhetorical skill.
  • Lucid, masterful, and engaging prose style.
  • Freedom from stylistic missteps and mechanical errors.
  • Correct documentation utilizing either MLA Handbook or Chicago Manual of Style.

Faculty Supervision and Registration for ENGL 496

Two of the four faculty who teach Honors Seminars during the year will be available to supervise the honors theses. A regular meeting time and room will be scheduled for the thesis course to meet. There are some occasions when working with another English faculty member makes sense. For example, if a student wishes to complete a thesis project in medieval studies, and already has a strong mentoring relationship with Professor Remley, and he has agreed to work with that student independently, that student must provide a written intellectual justification to The Director of Undergraduate Programs. If the DUS approves the proposal, the student will be asked to submit an approval form with Professor Remely's signature. The student will work with Professor Remley on the content of the thesis, but WILL STILL BE REQUIRED TO REGISTER FOR AND ATTEND ONE OF THE SECTIONS OF ENGL 496, Major Conference for Honors. ENGL 496 is designed to cover critical aspects of the research process. The proposal, abstract, outline, annotated bibliography, etc. It is also designed to provide Honors students with an audience of their peers for developing their research, providing students with an opportunity to workshop their research with their peers.

Before deciding to embark on English Honors, many students want to know what benefits the program confers.  Naturally, successful completion of departmental honors means receiving an impressive additional credential.  Particularly for students applying to graduate or professional school, graduating With Honors in English puts another attractive line on the curriculum vitae.  However, this should not be the sole motivation for entering the Honors program, nor is it the most significant benefit.

Building community: The Honors Program is a means for students to build community within one of the largest and most diverse departments in the College of Arts and Sciences .  Honors students inevitably share the common characteristics of active intellectual engagement, curiosity and a willingness to explore new topics and perspectives, and a strong belief in the intrinsic value of scholarship in our discipline. One of the goals of Honors is learning how to work effectively within a community of scholars, how to engage in a critical conversation with one's peers, how to negotiate a multiplicity of perspectives and intelligently stake out intellectual commitments. Honors should provide a more intimate "home" within the larger, vaguer framework of our rather ungainly major. By bringing 40 students together into a cohort and giving them multiple opportunities to meet and work together and with the 4-person faculty team, we hope that a strong sense of community will emerge.

Program coherence: The Honors program provides a coherent and cumulative program of study for students by focusing them on a defined area of inquiry or debate. Because the content and concerns of the honors courses are coordinated, students should build a strong sense of a topic or issue. By the end of the year, students should have a firm understanding of what it means to carry on a sustained conversation, to push the lines of inquiry to a new kind of depth and sophistication, and to appreciate questions from a multiplicity of critical perspectives. The topic of the Honors program in any given year will be defined in broad enough terms that every student will find an appealing point of entry rather than feeling as if they're being forced to study a narrow subject.

Graduate School preparation: Although Honors can be of great value to any English major, the program is particularly beneficial to prospective graduate students.  The advanced skills described above are precisely those needed by applicants to graduate and professional school.  Honors also puts students in an ideal position to fulfill the requirements of a successful graduate school application.  Strong letters of recommendation are sometimes difficult for UW students to get, even if they are intellectually gifted, because their professors simply don’t know them well enough.  Two quarters of seminar work and a term of intensive independent study means that faculty members get a very clear, detailed picture of their students’ abilities and accomplishments.  This can translate into the effective letters of recommendation.  Most graduate programs in English also require a critical writing sample, an essay of 12-20 pages, that is an extremely important part of the application.  The Honors Program provides ample opportunities for producing essays suitable for use as a critical writing sample. 

Students hoping to complete graduate degrees in English sometimes ask if it is “necessary” to do English Honors to be competitive.   The answer to this question is:  No.  Many eligible students have compelling reasons for choosing not to participate in the program.  Talent reveals itself in numerous ways to graduate admissions committees.   The absence of Honors course work on the transcript will not damage the prospects of a student with a clear record of academic excellence.

English Honors students are frequently eligible for other categories of  honors at the UW.  However, one type of honor does not necessarily imply the others.  It is important to distinguish English Honors from

University Honors

High scholarship recognition, baccalaureate honors, phi beta kappa, sigma tau delta.

University Honors is an umbrella term to designate all UW Honors programs. For a thorough explanation of the three different tracks in Honors-- Interdisciplinary Honors (core curriculum), Departmental Honors, and College Honors (combination of Interdisciplinary and Departmental Honors), please go to the University of Washington Honors Program web page,

The Honors Curriculum: Options and Requirements.

The following forms of recognition are awarded to first baccalaureate degree, matriculated students in residence.  Undergraduate students in all colleges of the University are eligible regardless of membership in the Honors Program.

Quarterly Dean’s List :  A high scholarship notation is made on the transcript of each undergraduate student who attains a quarterly GPA of at least 3.50 for 12 UW graded credits.  “Dean’s List” is entered on the line below the quarter’s courses on the transcript and a congratulatory letter is sent from the dean of the student’s home school or college.

Annual Dean’s List : The following undergraduates receive yearly high scholarship recognition in the form of a certificate:

  • Undergraduates who have attended three quarters of the academic year (Summer through Spring) and who have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.50 or higher in at least 12 graded credits in each of the three quarters.
  • Undergraduates who have attended the University for four quarters of the school year (Summer through Spring) with a 3.50 or higher GPA in 12 or more graded credits in each of three quarters, and a cumulative GPA of 3.50 for the four quarters combined.

Such students are recognized by the notation “Annual Dean’s List” following the last quarter’s grades for the year, and by a certificate of recognition from the dean of the student’s home school or college.

View UW English majors on the Annual Dean's List .

Baccalaureate honors ( summa cum laude, magna cum laude, cum laude )  are awarded at graduation based on GPA and other factors (see the Registrar's Office website for criteria).  The University’s Faculty Council on Academic Standards Honors Subcommittee determines annually the proportions of the graduating class to receive baccalaureate honors.  GPAs are then determined by the Committee and the Registrar's Office to yield the specified proportions within each undergraduate college.  University minimum GPAs are specified for each baccalaureate honors level, and college GPA minima must at least equal annually stipulated University minima. (The Registrar's Office maintains the most recent GPA requirements .)

Freshman Medal.  Annually, the sophomore having the most distinguished academic record for the first year of his or her program receives the freshman medal.  The notation "Freshman Medalist" is made on the transcript.  Selection is based primarily on GPA, but the rigor and quality of the student's program are also considered. Only students who have earned 36 or more graded credits in residence at the UW will be considered for this honor.

Sophomore and Junior Medals. Annually, the junior having the most distinguished academic record for the first two years of his or her program receives the sophomore medal .  The senior having the most distinguished academic record for the first three years of his or her program receives the junior medal .  The notation "Sophomore Medalist" or "Junior Medalist" is made on the transcript.  Selection is based primarily on GPA, but the rigor and quality of the student's program are also considered.  Only students who have earned 40 or more graded credits in residence at the UW will be considered for these honors.

President's Medal. The President's Medal, which is conferred at commencement, recognizes the graduating senior who has the most distinguished academic record.  Only students who have earned at least 90 credits at the UW may be considered.  The notation "President's Medalist" is made on the transcript, under the name of the degree awarded.

Phi Beta Kappa is a national honorary organization whose purpose is to recognize and honor students with excellent undergraduate academic records.  Requirements for election are established by each local chapter .  The requirements are meant to ensure that members have had a quality liberal education; at the UW students in all colleges are welcomed if they meet these standards.

Election:  Students do not apply to Phi Beta Kappa.  Instead, the Registrar’s Office provides the UW chapter with the transcripts of all students who meet the credit and GPA requirements.  The chapter then determines whether the general education and upper-division breadth requirements are met.  If so, the student is mailed an offer of election.

Here is a list of recent UW English majors invited to join Phi Beta Kappa .

Golden Key National Honor Society

Golden Key is a national interdisciplinary academic honors organization whose purpose is to recognize and encourage scholastic achievement in all undergraduate fields of study.  Golden Key seeks to bring together undergraduates, college faculty, and administrators in developing and maintaining high standards of education and in promoting voluntary service to school and community.

Election:  Students are normally invited into Golden Key each Fall quarter on the basis of meeting credit and class rank criteria.  At other times, students who have subsequently become eligible may contact the UW Golden Key chapter office for information.

Members of the UW chapter of Sigma Tau Delta , an international English honor society, note that the society's purpose is to "confer distinction upon students of the English language and literature, while also providing an opportunity to create a sense of community in the department."

  •   Facebook
  •   Instagram
  •   Twitter
  •   Newsletter

Honors English Application

At a very young age I knew I had a passion for writing and have always worked diligently to improve my skills. When I was in third grade, my writing was used an example in class. I remember exactly the feeling of confidence this gave me and it has kept my desire to do better on the next project than I did on the last. My education has consistently been very important to me and I feel that being placed in Honors English is the ideal opportunity to get closer to perfecting it. 

I care very deeply for my grades and I acknowledge what expectations need to be upheld. I also have always found that English comes quite naturally to me so I would love to give myself more of a challenge in Honors. English is one of the classes I am most passionate to advance in, and I plan to carry that eagerness on throughout the rest of my educational and possibly professional career. Throughout my whole life I am always on the highest honor roll. I always make it a goal to achieve straight A’s and I hold myself accountable to it each year. I am involved in many different things whether it be sports or an after-school club, so I recognize the commitment of getting things turned in on time and always giving up extra time for my activity. 

There have been a variety of projects or assignments that I have completed that I have enjoyed and felt incredibly proud. A particular project that stands out to me was my blackout poetry project on the book The Outsiders. Initially, I was apprehensive and I wasn’t quite sure how to start, but once I got the hang of it I loved it and was able to concentrate and perform very well. I am extremely proud of myself for being able to promptly adapt and show a more artistic side of myself. It was definitely a project that impacted my love for writing and revealed my creative side.  

A book that I was thoroughly touched by was The Diary of Anne Frank. That’s the magical thing about English … it isn’t all about writing essays but the literature that we’re exposed to will stay with us for a lifetime. I would never have resonated as deeply with the true story of what happened and the discrimination towards Jews, without Anne’s perspective. The whole unit on Anne Frank taught me and affected me tremendously.

The opportunity to be in Honors English will enhance my written and oral communication skills that will help prepare me for college and the “real world.” It will also introduce me to books that will transform my way of thinking and take me places that only a good story has the capability of doing. Honors English is the perfect stepping stone that will push me to be a better writer, deeper thinker, and well-rounded student.

Related Samples

  • Reflection Essay Sample on What is Perception?
  • Essay Sample on  My Dad Is My Hero
  • Educational Assessment Essay Example
  • Essay Example: Importance Of Giving A Helping Hand ​​​​​​​
  • Personal Narrative Essay: I Think I'm A Lesbian
  • Personal Essay Sample on My Dream House
  • Doubt Will Lead to Failure
  • Educate or Train Leaders in the Army Essay Example
  • Experience Essay about Gap Year
  • Is Classroom Learning Better Than Online Learning (Free Essay Example)

Didn't find the perfect sample?

honors english essay sample

You can order a custom paper by our expert writers

Let your curiosity lead the way:

Apply Today

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Graduate Studies in A&S

honors english essay sample

Honors in English

We encourage dedicated English majors who can be expected to graduate with a 3.65 average or better, particularly those considering graduate school in literature, to pursue departmental Honors in English. Many of our Honors graduates have pursued Ph.D.'s in the most prestigious graduate programs in literary study; others have pursued post-graduate work in Teach for America, elite MFA programs, and highly ranked law schools, divinity programs, and other professional schools.   To be admitted into the Honors program, which spans both semesters of the senior year, students must demonstrate their readiness not only as evidenced by the high grades they have earned in coursework for the major but also by having taken challenging courses in a range of subject areas.

English Honors students take, in addition to fulfilling the major requirements, two sequential Honors seminars (L14 399: Senior Research Seminars I and II), one of which can count as an upper-level elective towards the major. This intensive seminar aims to cultivate the intellectual skills and habits required for a successful honors degree, and is taken in both the fall and spring of the senior year. Students also enroll in an independent study course (L14 5001:Honors Thesis Tutorial) with their thesis advisor's signature.  Throughout the senior year students must maintain a 3.65 average in their English classes as well as a 3.65 undergraduate average overall in order to receive final Honors in English.

To apply for Honors candidacy, students submit an application form  and a writing sample (an essay of no fewer than eight pages written for a previous English literature course). Students must also arrange to have two English literature instructors write brief recommendations on their behalf, which should be emailed directly to the Academic Coordinator in English. All application materials must be submitted by May 15th before the student's senior year, but students are encouraged to apply earlier if they can. Students will be notified of the outcome by June 15.  Given this schedule, prospective Honors candidates who will study abroad during one or both semesters of their junior year are encouraged to consult the Director of English Honors, Professor Guinn Batten, before departure.

Student Testimonials

honors english essay sample

Andie Berry (B.A. '17), Ph.D. student of English Literature at Yale University

"Unlike other college essays, writing an honors thesis is a huge undertaking. However, it was also one of the most rewarding aspects of college for me. I learned how to stay committed to a project over the span of a year. The writing experience taught me how to structure a long piece so that it makes sense to a variety of people. The length of the research and writing process allowed me to repeatedly refine my argument until it became a persuasive and thorough thesis. Through the process, I learned how to conduct solid scholarly research and I discovered my own writing style which are two valuable things that I will carry forth into graduate school. Ultimately, writing an honors thesis showed me what a luxury it is to have the time, resources, support, and space to investigate something that interests me as a scholar but also as a person."

honors english essay sample

Jonathan Karp (B.A. '15), current Ph.D. student in American Studies at Harvard University

"The English Honors program felt like a culmination of my time at Wash U in all the best ways. In the course, I learned how to research and develop arguments that would not have fit in the seminar papers I was used to writing. Surrounded by a supportive group of classmates and advisors, I also learned what it means to be a part of an intellectual community. We taught each other about our areas of interest, generously critiqued each others' work, and even hung out outside of class. Now that I'm in graduate school, I find myself calling on those ideas of community as often as the methods of research I learned while writing my thesis."

honors english essay sample

Aparna Sundaram (B.A. '17)

"Writing a thesis improved both the way I engaged with primary texts and the way I approached using secondary sources in my analysis. The process of revising my writing gave me the chance to work on the weaknesses in my prose, and it made me a much better writer. In addition to improving my skills as an English student, working on the thesis helped me connect more with the English department."

honors english essay sample

Sherri Gardner (B.A. '17), currently an Associate Editor at TripSavvy

"Over the year that I was in the English honor thesis cohort I learned a lot about how to balance my coursework while continuing my thesis research. I had to learn how to think through difficult research problems and write and rewrite my arguments as they evolved. Working with a cohort of my peers was great because they asked excellent, probing questions that challenged my work in a good way."

honors english essay sample

Rachel Cheng (B.A. '17), current law student at the University of Chicago

"Participating in the thesis cohort definitely improved my writing by forcing me to practice, and constantly be exposed to peer and professor feedback on the stylistics and grammar/flow of my writing. While I have no plans to pursue a degree in English, I'm going to law school, where I know that good solid writing will be of utmost importance. I think that I will be better prepared to face the essays and even possibly journal writing competitions that I may participate in next year. My biggest takeaway from this experience is that you should always take an opportunity to challenge yourself (within healthy bounds), especially as a student when many resources are available to you--including the resources of a young and flexible mind! I really saw how much my confidence was built up through this process of writing and completing the thesis, a massive document which, just a year ago seemed so so far out of reach. It was something to be very proud of, and a skill-building exercise in persistence, patience with myself, and self-confidence."

General Information

Honors by thesis.

In April of their junior year, students wishing to undertake a sustained research must first find a potential thesis advisor and then, in consultation with the advisor, develop a thesis proposal (two pages) in which they describe the nature of the project. Sample proposals may be requested from the Academic Coordinator. Proposals should be submitted with the other application materials by May 15th. The director's signature on the application form will be taken to indicate his or her support for the project and willingness to undertake its supervision. Students whose applications to the program have been successful should begin their reading and research over the summer, and will enroll during each semester of their senior year for one unit of L14 5001, Honors Thesis Tutorial (this is in addition to the course requirement noted above). They will work with their thesis advisor towards the successful completion of a 50-70 page thesis by the last day of the third week in March of the senior year. If, in the course of the fall semester, the thesis director is unable to predict with confidence that the thesis will satisfactorily be completed, the project may be terminated at the end of the fall semester with the possible award of three units in recognition of the work accomplished during the fall. A completed draft of the thesis must be submitted to the thesis advisor by the end of January, and three copies of the completed thesis must be submitted to the Academic Coordinator by 4 p.m. on the last day of the third week in March. An oral examination based primarily on the thesis will be taken after the thesis has been submitted (normally within a few weeks), with an examining committee of three faculty members, including the thesis director.

Please consult The Path Towards Honors: A General Roadmap for approximate deadlines.

Determination of Level of Honors

There are three types of academic recognition that a student majoring in English may receive upon graduation: College Honors, Latin Honors, and/or English honors.

College Honors:  This designation is noted on a student's transcript and is automatically awarded to all Arts & Sciences students who graduate with an 8th-semester, overall GPA of 3.65 or higher and who have not participated in a department's Latin Honors program. In other words, it is not possible for a student to receive both the College Honors designation and (any level of) Latin Honors.

Latin Honors:   There are three different levels for this designation – cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude – all awarded for undergraduate work that deserves special recognition. Latin Honors are awarded by the College of Arts & Sciences and are, therefore, attached to the degree, not to the major. These honors are printed on the diploma and on the transcript. The College of Arts & Sciences requires a recommendation from the student's major department as part of the decision to award Latin Honors, and each department sets its own requirements for making such a recommendation. For English majors to receive this recommendation, they must apply for and successfully complete the department’s Honors program. Beginning with the Class of 2015: upon certification by the English Department of completion of the Honors program, your A.B. cum laude level will be awarded according to the following proportions: the top 15 percent in overall grade point average of Latin honors candidates will receive summa cum laude, the next 35 percent magna cum laude, and the remaining 50 percent cum laude.

English Honors:  This designation also has three levels – Distinction in English, High Distinction in English, and Highest Distinction in English – and is awarded at the English Department's discretion. English Honors are not tied to GPA or the level of Latin Honors, but are intended to serve as an acknowledgment of the quality of a student’s work towards the thesis and the quality of the thesis itself, as determined by the thesis committee. This notation will appear on the transcript, but not the diploma.

Path Towards Honors

  • Sophomores interested in pursuing honors and interested in studying abroad for both semesters of Junior year should contact the Director of Honors
  • Junior year, must have a 3.65 GPA in English (3.65 overall)
  • Senior year, must complete all requirements for the English Major—and in addition complete Senior Research Seminar (two-semester sequence, 5 hours)
  • Locate a potential thesis advisor and develop a thesis proposal to be submitted with the application
  • Writing sample (8-page minimum) from a paper written in a previous English literature course
  • Letters of recommendation from two English literature instructors (one may be the thesis advisor)
  • Submit application packet to department (through Academic Coordinator) by May 15th
  • Notification of department’s decision—mid-June
  • Begin research, reading, and writing the thesis
  • L14 5001 xx (using section number for thesis director) Honors Thesis Tutorial (1 unit)
  • L14 3991 01 Senior Research Seminar I with Director of Honors (3 units), a workshop experience in which honors students engage in collaborative learning, which includes conversations about readings in theory and methodology and the productive reading of each others' drafts; assignments in the seminar are designed to ensure successful research in individual fields and progress towards completing the Honors thesis
  • L14 3992 01 Senior Research Seminar II  (2 units)    
  • L14 5001 xx Honors Thesis Tutorial (1 unit)   
  • Continue with Senior Research Seminar which ends prior to Spring Break, when all theses have been submitted
  • Schedule regular tutorial meetings with your Honors advisor
  • When thesis has been read and approved by the director, send as a pdf to the Academic Coordinator by 4 p.m. on the last day of the third week in March. 
  • The Academic Coordinator will print three copies of thesis (one for each committee member) and distribute accordingly, at the same time coordinating with readers and Honors student the date for the oral exam. 
  • The thesis defense, which will last around one hour, will be held no later than April 10 of the Spring semester.

honors english essay sample

"The English Honors program felt like a culmination of my time at Wash U in all the best ways. In the course, I learned how to research and develop arguments that would not have fit in the seminar papers I was used to writing. Surrounded by a supportive group of classmates and advisors, I also learned what it means to be a part of an intellectual community. We taught each other about our areas of interest, generously critiqued each others' work, and even hung out outside of class. Now that I'm in graduate school, I find myself calling on those ideas of community as often as the methods of research I learned while writing my thesis."

Please contact Professor Guinn Batten, the department's Director of Honors, if you have any questions. She can also provide you with samples of successful Honors proposals.

Mr Greg's English Cloud

Short Essay: National Honor Society

Writing an essay for the National Honor Society (NHS) is a pivotal step for students seeking to join an organization that recognizes outstanding academic achievements and civic involvement. The NHS essay is more than just an academic exercise; it is a showcase of a student’s character, leadership, service, and citizenship. Here is a comprehensive guide to crafting a compelling 500-word essay for the National Honor Society.

Table of Contents

Understanding the NHS and Its Values

Before you begin writing, it is crucial to understand what the NHS stands for. The National Honor Society is an organization that honors high school students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Recognizing these pillars is essential as they will guide the content of your essay.

Brainstorming and Prewriting

Start by reflecting on your high school career and jot down examples where you’ve exemplified the four pillars. Think about your academic milestones, instances where you’ve taken the lead, how you’ve served your community, and moments that have tested and shaped your character.


Discuss your academic achievements but go beyond the grades. Talk about your dedication to learning, your curiosity, and how you’ve applied your knowledge.

Leadership isn’t just about holding a title. It’s about influencing others positively. Reflect on situations where you’ve inspired or coordinated with peers, whether in school projects, sports teams, or clubs.

Service is about volunteering and contributing to the community without expecting anything in return. Highlight your volunteer work and describe the impact it had on others and on your personal growth.

Character is about integrity and ethical behavior. Think about times when you’ve had to stand up for what’s right or demonstrate resilience in the face of adversity.

Structuring the Essay

An NHS essay typically follows a standard structure: introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Here’s how to utilize this structure effectively:


Your introduction should serve as a hook, capturing the reader’s attention. Start with a personal anecdote or a powerful statement that reflects your dedication to the NHS’s core values. Clearly state the purpose of your essay and provide a preview of what you will discuss.

Body Paragraphs

Each body paragraph should focus on one of the four pillars of the NHS. Start with a topic sentence that introduces the pillar, followed by supporting sentences that provide evidence and examples of how you embody that attribute.

Paragraph 1: Scholarship

Explain your approach to academics and your passion for learning. Detail any academic awards or recognitions you’ve received.

Paragraph 2: Leadership

Describe specific leadership roles and what you’ve learned from them. Discuss how you’ve made a difference in these roles and what you’ve contributed to your community.

Paragraph 3: Service

Share your experiences with community service. Emphasize the value of selflessness and the importance of making a positive impact.

Paragraph 4: Character

Reflect on moments that have tested or demonstrated your character. Describe how you’ve adhered to ethical principles and learned from these experiences.

Your conclusion should summarize the main points of your essay and reaffirm your commitment to the NHS’s values. End on a high note, expressing your aspirations and how being a part of the NHS will further your personal and academic growth.

Writing Tips

  • Be Authentic:  Write in your own voice and be genuine in your storytelling. Authenticity resonates with readers and makes your essay memorable.
  • Show, Don’t Tell:  Use specific examples to illustrate your points. Showing how you embody the NHS values through actions will have a stronger impact than simply stating it.
  • Focus on Impact:  Whenever you describe an activity or achievement, emphasize the impact it had on others or yourself. This demonstrates self-awareness and a commitment to growth.
  • Be Concise:  With a 500-word limit, every sentence should serve a purpose. Be succinct and clear, avoiding unnecessary filler words.
  • Revise and Edit:  A polished essay is a result of thorough revision and careful editing. Check for clarity, grammar, and adherence to the word limit.
  • Seek Feedback:  Before finalizing your essay, get feedback from teachers, mentors, or peers. A fresh perspective can help you identify areas for improvement.

National Honor Society Essay Example #1

As I step forward to submit my application for the National Honor Society, I am filled with a sense of pride and anticipation. This moment is not just an opportunity to join a prestigious community of high-achieving peers; it is a reflection of the values that I have woven into the fabric of my life. The four pillars of the NHS—scholarship, leadership, service, and character—are not abstract ideas to me, but guiding principles that I strive to live by every day.

My academic journey has been one of continual curiosity and dedication. Scholarship is more than a grade point average; it is a lifelong pursuit of knowledge and understanding. Throughout my high school career, I have consistently achieved high grades, but my commitment to scholarship extends beyond the classroom. Whether I am engaging in lively debates in history class or conducting independent research for the science fair, I am driven by a desire to delve deeper and to challenge myself intellectually. As a member of the NHS, I would continue to embrace scholarship not only as a personal goal but as a means to contribute meaningfully to my school and community.

Leadership is often misconstrued as holding a position of power, but I believe true leadership is about service and impact. As the captain of the debate team, I have learned that effective leadership requires empathy, strategic thinking, and the ability to mobilize and inspire others. Under my leadership, our team has not only secured victories but has also fostered a supportive and collaborative environment. I have also taken the initiative to mentor younger students, helping them to find their voice and confidence. Leadership, in the context of the NHS, means setting a positive example and working towards the betterment of the organization and its members.

I have always been passionate about community service, understanding that my actions can create ripples of positive change. Volunteering at the local food bank, organizing charity events, and participating in clean-up drives have been incredibly rewarding experiences that have taught me about compassion and civic responsibility. Service is a testament to the human spirit’s capacity for kindness, and it is an integral aspect of my life. As an NHS member, I would be excited to lead and participate in service projects that not only aid those in need but also encourage a spirit of generosity in others.

Character is the cornerstone of trust and respect, and it is cultivated through consistent ethical behavior. I pride myself on being a person of integrity, whether that means standing up against bullying, maintaining honesty in my academic work, or being a reliable friend in times of need. In moments of challenge and pressure, I have striven to make choices that reflect my values and principles. The character is not about perfection; it is about striving to be better and doing the right thing, even when it is difficult. Within the NHS, I would continue to uphold high standards of character, knowing that it is the essence of true leadership and citizenship.

In conclusion, my aspiration to join the National Honor Society is driven by a genuine commitment to embodying the qualities of scholarship, leadership, service, and character. I am eager to bring my enthusiasm and perspective to the NHS, to learn from other members, and to contribute to the organization’s noble objectives. I am confident that my inclusion in the NHS will not only aid in my personal growth but also allow me to add value to the myriad initiatives that the society undertakes. Thank you for considering my application.

National Honor Society Essay Example #2

To the esteemed selection committee of the National Honor Society, I extend my deepest gratitude for considering my application. The National Honor Society’s pillars—scholarship, leadership, service, and character—are not only foundational to the organization but resonate deeply with the principles I uphold in my life. It is with a spirit of earnest dedication that I present how these tenets have shaped my journey and how I aspire to embody them as a potential member of this venerable society.

Scholarship: A Commitment to Intellectual Growth

Scholarship serves as the beacon that guides my academic voyage. It represents an unwavering commitment to excellence and a passion for knowledge that transcends the confines of textbooks and examinations. My academic record is a testament to my dedication to learning, marked by a GPA that reflects my diligence and perseverance. Beyond the classroom, I actively engage in educational pursuits, from participating in science symposiums to attending workshops that expand my horizons. My inquisitive nature fuels my desire to continuously seek understanding and to apply my knowledge for the betterment of those around me. As a prospective member of the National Honor Society, I am eager to further my academic endeavors and to inspire a love of learning within our community.

Leadership: A Journey of Influence and Inspiration

True leadership emanates from the ability to inspire and uplift others while forging paths towards common goals. My leadership journey is characterized by my tenure as the president of the student council, where I spearheaded initiatives that fostered school spirit and community involvement. I have learned that leadership is not about wielding authority, but about listening, empathizing, and collaborating with peers to achieve collective success. Whether leading by example or by encouraging my peers to realize their potential, I have embraced the responsibility that comes with being a leader. In the National Honor Society, I aim to bring my leadership skills to the forefront, contributing to the society’s initiatives and driving positive change.

Service: The Heartbeat of Community Connection

Service is the heartbeat of community connection—it is where compassion meets action. My service experiences range from tutoring underprivileged children to participating in local environmental conservation efforts. These activities have not only provided me with profound joy and satisfaction but have also instilled in me a sense of civic duty and an understanding of the impact one individual can make. Service has taught me the importance of selflessness and the joy that comes from helping others. As a part of the National Honor Society, I am committed to continuing my service contributions and to fostering a community culture that prioritizes the welfare of others.

Character: The Silent Strength of Integrity

Character is the silent strength that underpins every action and decision. It is the moral compass that guides me through life’s complexities and challenges. I hold fast to principles of honesty, respect, and responsibility, whether in my academic pursuits or personal interactions. In times of adversity, it is the strength of character that has allowed me to act with integrity and to learn from every experience. My peers and teachers recognize me as a trustworthy and principled student, and I take pride in this reputation. As a member of the National Honor Society, I will continue to uphold these standards of character, knowing that they are essential to the trust and respect that form the foundation of any esteemed organization.

In presenting this essay, I humbly offer a glimpse into the core values that define me. My aspiration to join the National Honor Society is driven not only by my desire for personal excellence but by my eagerness to contribute to and grow with a community of scholars who hold themselves to the highest standards. I am ready to embrace the opportunities and responsibilities that come with being a member of the NHS and to work alongside my peers to uphold the honor and legacy of the society. Thank you for considering my application for membership, and I look forward to the possibility of contributing to the NHS’s esteemed tradition.

National Honor Society Essay Example #3

Dear Members of the National Honor Society,

It is with a profound sense of respect and aspiration that I submit my application for membership into the National Honor Society (NHS). The pillars of the NHS—scholarship, leadership, service, and character—are not only pillars of the society but also the cornerstones upon which I have built my high school career. I am honored to share how these principles have guided my personal and academic growth and how they fuel my desire to contribute to the NHS and its esteemed legacy.

Scholarship: The Pursuit of Excellence in Learning

Scholarship is the foundation upon which the edifice of my academic life is built. It encapsulates my unwavering commitment to not just academic performance, but to a deeper understanding of the world around us. With a consistent placement on the honor roll and participation in Advanced Placement courses, I have demonstrated my dedication to academic excellence. However, true scholarship extends beyond grades; it is evident in my thirst for knowledge, whether it’s through engaging in book clubs, seeking mentorship in research projects, or volunteering to help peers with their studies. Joining the NHS will provide me with a platform to continue pursuing scholarly excellence and to encourage others to do the same, fostering a community where learning is celebrated and knowledge is shared.

Leadership: Empowering Others and Myself

Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal. For me, leadership has been about taking initiative and setting a positive example in every endeavor, from captaining the soccer team to spearheading community service projects. It has been about listening to others, valuing diverse opinions, and bringing people together to work collaboratively. My leadership experiences have taught me the importance of adaptability and resilience, and as a member of the NHS, I would strive to lead with compassion and conviction, encouraging my peers to excel and to take on leadership roles themselves.

Service: The Gift of Giving Back

Service is a selfless expression of a caring heart, and it has been integral to my personal development. I have committed myself to various service efforts, such as organizing food drives and volunteering at local shelters. These experiences have not only helped those in need but have also allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation of the impact we can have on our community. I believe that service is not an obligation but a privilege. As a member of the NHS, I would seek out new service opportunities and strive to inspire a spirit of volunteerism within the school, reinforcing the idea that we can all be stewards of positive change.

Character: The Essence of Identity

Character is the defining attribute of an individual’s actions and beliefs. It is the moral fiber that weaves through one’s life, shaping decisions and interactions. I have always held myself to high ethical standards, respecting others, and upholding a sense of fairness and honesty. In moments where my character has been tested, I have chosen to stand by my principles, even when it was not the easy path to take. My commitment to maintaining a strong character is unwavering, and as an NHS member, I would endeavor to be a role model for others, embodying the integrity and ethical standards that the NHS upholds.

In conclusion, my journey thus far has been greatly aligned with the values of the National Honor Society. I see my potential membership as a continuation and deepening of my commitment to these principles. It would be an honor to join the ranks of those who have exemplified scholarship, leadership, service, and character before me, and I eagerly look forward to the opportunity to do so. Thank you for considering my application.

Final Thoughts

The NHS essay is your opportunity to shine and showcase how you’ve lived the values of scholarship, leadership, service, and character. It is an opportunity not just to reflect on your achievements but to demonstrate your readiness to uphold the principles of the National Honor Society.

Remember, the essay is not just about showing that you belong in the NHS but also about how the NHS will benefit from your participation. By carefully crafting your essay with sincerity and depth, you can leave a lasting impression on the selection committee and take a significant step toward becoming a member of this prestigious organization.

About Mr. Greg

Mr. Greg is an English teacher from Edinburgh, Scotland, currently based in Hong Kong. He has over 5 years teaching experience and recently completed his PGCE at the University of Essex Online. In 2013, he graduated from Edinburgh Napier University with a BEng(Hons) in Computing, with a focus on social media.

Mr. Greg’s English Cloud was created in 2020 during the pandemic, aiming to provide students and parents with resources to help facilitate their learning at home.

Whatsapp: +85259609792

[email protected]

honors english essay sample

What are your chances of acceptance?

Calculate for all schools, your chance of acceptance.

Duke University

Your chancing factors


honors english essay sample

How to Write the National Honor Society Essay + Example

honors english essay sample

What’s Covered:

National honor society: four pillars and essay, five tips for writing your nhs essay, nhs essay example, time well spent.

What do former first lady Michelle Obama, actor Chadwick Boseman, singer-songwriters Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, and baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. have in common?  They were all members of the National Honor Society (NHS).

As you apply for membership in this national organization, remember NHS membership is based on meeting criteria in four areas that the NHS calls its four pillars: Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Character .  


The first pillar, scholarship , requires that a student earns a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or equivalent. Many high schools set a higher GPA bar for their school’s chapter. If you meet your school’s academic requirement, congratulations, you’ve passed the first hurdle. 

Now it’s important that you carefully complete the application and write a compelling essay.  Most high schools require students to write a 300-500 word essay that showcases their commitment and accomplishments in the other three pillars.

Service refers to the contributions you make to your school and or community on a volunteer basis, without receiving any compensation. For your most significant service activities, be sure to explain why you choose to support certain organizations and why you chose specific roles. 

Showcase your leadership in your school and or community while working with or for others. Remember, stating that you are the captain of a team, president of a club, or supervisor of a shift does not prove that you are a leader. A leader makes things happen, sets a good example, and inspires others to give their personal best. Clearly state why you were selected to hold a leadership position and how you effectively lead. There are many successful leadership styles. Communicate your unique brand of leadership. 

Character is how you conduct yourself with high standards of honesty, reliability, and respect for others. Many attributes define good character, and they all reflect a personal commitment to ethical and compassionate interactions with others as well as how you treat yourself. Results are only part of the story.  How you achieved them is critically important to communicate.

Think about how many NHS applications your school counselor reviews each year. Not every student who completes an application is selected for the honor. So how do you make your essay stand out?  Here are five strategies:

1. Make it Personal and Individual  

Your application form provides the facts about the scope and range of your involvement and contributions to your communities. Be sure that you write your essay in a way that brings this data to life. A compelling essay enables the reader to feel a strong connection to you. Express your unique values, aspirations, and priorities. State the motivation behind your choices and the trade-offs you’ve made. Be honest about challenges and what you have learned through your mistakes. And be sure the tone of the essay sounds like you and nobody else. 

2. Share Your Stories

People love to hear and remember stories, not simply facts and figures. Express themes and points that you want to share by relaying stories that bring these concepts to life. Stories can be poignant, funny, suspenseful, or surprising. Any approach that makes a reader want to continue reading is a great one.

3. Be Humble and Bold

Many students find it hard to express their hard-earned accomplishments without sounding boastful. Proudly stating your achievements without sounding brash is possible and important. Clearly state your motivations, your challenges, your vulnerabilities, and your mistakes to mitigate any concerns.  

4. Follow Tried and True Essay Guidelines

Channel all the advice you’ve received over the years about how to write a great essay. Do you have a clear thesis around which you have organized your thoughts? Compelling topic sentences to hook your reader? Strong supporting sentences to back up your reasoning? Have you avoided clichés? Do you vary your sentence structure and word choice? Does the text flow and keep the reader engaged? Last, but not least, have you checked and double-checked your grammar, punctuation, and spelling?

5. Draft, Edit, Edit, Edit, Polish

Writing is an iterative process so give yourself the time necessary to land on the best approach for explaining why you are deserving of the NHS honor. There are many ways to tackle an essay. Try a few to determine which is the most effective. Then, when you determine the best approach and are satisfied with your latest draft, share it with someone whose opinion you value. 

Looking for someone to read over your essay? Check out Collegevine’s free essay help ! Our peer review system will help you get feedback from other students so that you can improve your NHS essay and college essays.

While there is not a single template for a strong essay, here is an example of an NHS essay written by an 11th-grade student who was accepted into NHS.

Success is not only about improving yourself, but also about improving life for others. While my GPA shows my commitment to academics, how I spend my time and conduct myself outside of school reveal my commitment to making the world a better place, consistent with the values of the National Honor Society. 

For the two years my grandfather lived in a nursing home, each weekend I took my dog EJ to visit him. I witnessed first-hand the healing power of animals as EJ lifted his and the other residents’ spirits. Because of this experience and because monkeys are my favorite animal, when I heard about Helping Hands (HH), the only organization in the world that raises capuchin monkeys to be live-in assistants to people with spinal cord injuries, I reached out to volunteer. 

Both in the summer and during the school year, I assist the trainers. Monkeys begin training when they are teenagers. It typically takes three to five years until they are ready to be placed with a person. My first job is to clean the cages of 60 monkeys. (Not my favorite responsibility.) I also prepare meals and construct and distribute dexterity “toys.” 

While not glamorous, my work is critical to the success of the initiative. The physical support the monkeys provide is unbelievable. They turn pages of books, scratch itches, pour water, and retrieve dropped items… Most importantly, I have seen the life-changing impact a monkey’s companionship has on a partner, including a college-age student confined to a wheelchair after a spinal cord injury from hockey. 

In the spring, summer, and fall I also volunteer at Gaining Ground (GG), a non-profit that grows organic produce to donate to food pantries, shelters, and meal programs. When I volunteered at a local food pantry, it struck me that recipients receive mostly canned and packaged food. I think it is important that people in need receive fresh fruits and vegetables, and I enjoy the physical work of weeding, harvesting, cleaning, and packing produce.

Soon after I began volunteering at GG, my rabbi gave a sermon about the working conditions of tomato farmers in Florida. (It reminded me of Grapes of Wrath, and I couldn’t believe inhumane practices continue.) Her sermon motivated me to support the Coalition of Immokalee Workers by distributing postcards urging Trader Joe’s and Stop & Shop to only buy tomatoes from farms that agree to fair wages and human rights. Both chains have now agreed, showing that a little effort by many people makes a difference.

Last, I believe a story is the best way to explain my “behind-the-scenes” leadership. At the annual nighttime football game, one of my soccer teammates (not someone I hang with) was drunk. When our principal came over to the bleachers, my teammate’s friends fled. Concerned that my teammate would fall and hurt herself, I brought her outside the stadium, called her parents, and waited with her until they came — without worrying about social retribution. Despite getting grounded, she thanked me for my help.

I would be honored to be recognized by NHS for my service, leadership, and character. Thank you for your consideration.

The time you invest in composing an effective NHS essay will help you when you’re ready to write your college essays! Essays are important components of applications to selective colleges. Getting into NHS is also an honor that may boost your application at some schools. Remember, you can estimate your chance for acceptance using Collegevine’s free chancing calculator . This tool will factor in your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and more to calculate your odds of admission at hundreds of schools across the country.

Related CollegeVine Blog Posts

honors english essay sample

Are you seeking one-on-one college counseling and/or essay support? Limited spots are now available. Click here to learn more.

National Honor Society (NHS) Essay Examples & Expert Advice

July 8, 2023

Every year, high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors write National Honor Society essays in the hopes of becoming a member. It’s certainly an admirable recognition. Joining the ranks means partaking in an interscholastic tradition alongside future movers and shakers. Past National Honor Society (NHS) members have consisted of Olympians, astronauts, senators, neurosurgeons, Nobel prize winners, Navy admirals, and more. Some of the more celebrity-famous NHS-ers include journalist Katie Couric, writer, and comedian Tina Fey, and poet Robert Warren Penn. Former first lady Michelle Obama, of course. Even Taylor Swift joined the NHS in high school. You can bet her songwriting skills came in handy for the National Honor Society essay. Intimidated? Don’t be. View our NHS essay example below as well as our more general advice for the National Honor Society essay.

Before composing your own NHS essay, you may want to ask yourself, “Why should I join NHS ?” Your answer to this question will help determine if, and how, you should craft a relevant NHS essay.

The NHS in Brief

It all began with a high school principal in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who founded the National Honor Society in 1921. Today, this hundred-and-two-year-old society boasts local chapters in all 50 U.S. states and territories. It also has chapters in American and international schools abroad. Membership, open to select high school students, can open doors to interesting service and leadership opportunities. In fact, service and leadership form the cornerstone of NHS.

The one million plus students who participate in the NHS yearly have service and leadership in common. That’s because the NHS requires demonstrated community service, and demonstrated leadership. It also requires a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (though this number varies depending on the chapter) and demonstrated good character. You’ll want to check your local chapter’s specific guidelines when beginning the NHS application.

Other reasons to join the NHS include gaining access to the NHS network, an array of college planning tools, and the chance to apply for hefty scholarships. These perks naturally make for a competitive acceptance rate. So, the best way to make your application stand out involves crafting a stunning NHS essay. Here’s how.

Quick Tips for Drafting the National Honor Society Essay

1) Structure your NHS essay around the NHS Pillars: Scholarship, Service, Leadership, and Character. A high GPA acts as an indicator of your “scholarship”, or dedication to academia. This pillar must appear in your essay as well, in the form of impeccable writing skills. Demonstrate your service and leadership through the content of your essay. In other words, service and leadership form the action, or plot, of your essay. Finally, infuse your character throughout your essay, by showing how your behavior indicates your values and integrity.

2) Write from your heart, and make your NHS essay personal. The most memorable essays rely on a sincere writing voice and contain personal details. But note that by “personal,” I don’t mean you must share your deepest secrets. Rather, ground an event in your own experience by incorporating your emotions, thoughts, and sensations. This will make your essay unique to you.

3) Weave together a story; don’t make a list. As you tell your story, pull from your strongest experiences. Perhaps you have a handful of leadership and service roles. Pick only a few that say something about your interests and personality, and develop your story by threading these ideas together. While a list might look impressive, a story will come across as better crafted and more captivating. If, however, none of your service activities seem significant enough to single out and describe on their own, weave these activities together through a theme. For example, the theme could be how you overcame shyness to lead.

Quick Tips for Drafting the National Honor Society Essay, Continued

4) Mind your audience. In this case, your audience is your school’s faculty member who’s taken on the role of chapter adviser. You may want to meet with them ahead of time to let them know you’re applying. This initiative on your part will look impressive. Moreover, you can ask in person what they look for in an NHS essay. Certainly, they’ll want to know how you stand out from the other applicants. So, you’ll also want to keep your competition in mind. As with college application essays, the tone of your NHS essay should be polite, formal, and charismatic.

5) Brainstorm, draft, edit, and repeat. A National Honor Society essay isn’t written overnight. Once you have your initial ideas down on paper, return to the page for a round of editing. Ask yourself where you can expand and where you sound redundant. Look for common threads and themes to enhance. Create transition sentences between paragraphs. Revise your conclusion. Next, show your essay to someone you trust. Their feedback will indicate where your essay excels and where you need to improve.

NHS Essay Example

My grandmother, or Ma-Maw , was the kind of generous busybody who made six different pies for her granddaughters’ birthdays. She invited everyone on the block, so nothing went to waste. Once, when we both went to shovel up the last slice of pie, she laughed, and said, “ noblesse oblige .” She often spoke French, a Louisiana French foreign yet familiar to me. I didn’t think to ask what she’d meant. Did she think I was noble? Was that why I got to scarf down the last of the cherry pie?

Ma-Maw died the summer before I entered high school. I missed her terribly, long after my parents sold her house. Receiving her redirected mail felt like a blow. So many newsletters from Friends of the New Orleans Public Library! Since I loved books as much as Ma-Maw, I opened these up. Inside, I read about a partnership program, Start the Adventure in Reading (STAIR). They needed in-person volunteers to tutor second- and third-graders in reading.

Before I knew it, I was cracking open vocabulary books twice a week with a kid named Harper. When I wasn’t tutoring, I was lesson planning, going over Harper’s writing journal, and scouring shelves for more early reader books. This got me thinking about literacy in New Orleans. 39% of high school students my age have the reading level of a 5 th grader—or worse. Harper lived in a part of town that didn’t even have bookstores. Would she keep up her reading once the tutoring was over, despite the odds? I also thought about representation and accessibility. If Harper had more books about people like her, and if those books were all over the place, and easy to take home, would things change?

NHS Essay Example, Continued

Due to this newfound interest in advocating for literacy, I decided to build a Free Little Library (FLL). To do so, I needed help. That spring, I founded a school club, Reading the World, and convinced 8 members to join. Together, we dismantled one of Ma-Maw’s kitchen cabinets and incorporated other used materials to build an upcycled stand that could fit 20 books.

Next, we got in touch with the program Read for Color, which helps make BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other diverse and marginalized voices heard. I believe their initiative parallels our own, which is to provide a diversity of voices through language itself. Our FLL features books in Cajun French and Creole and works in translation. With permission, we installed the FLL outside Ma-Maw’s old home. For its inauguration, our club invited the local organizations Youth Empowerment Project, One Book One New Orleans, and Read in Color. We plan to collaborate with these groups next year.

Now a sophomore, I’ve continued literacy advocacy by volunteering at Alliance Française events. This has given me new ideas about how to run Reading the World. I’ve added monthly book club events. Furthermore, every club member tutors a STAIR student. Finally, we’ll visit local senior homes at Thanksgiving and Christmas and read to the residents.

Ma-Maw would be happy to hear I won the L’Union Française’s Prix d’Excellence this year. She’d be even more thrilled to see how I’ve shared her love of reading with my community. Now I understand noblesse oblige : if you believe you are someone of noble character, then you must act accordingly. This NHS motto was easy for Ma-Maw to follow. She gave everything and led by example. I plan to follow in her footsteps. It would be an immense honor to do so through the National Honor Society.

NHS Essay Example, Dissected

This National Honor Society essay succeeds for many reasons. First, the student structures her essay around the theme of language and literacy. (Perhaps she also captains her softball team and volunteers for the Red Cross. But the student has correctly judged that these elements would distract from her story.) Rather than list her achievements and service, the student builds every element into a journey. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It shows how the student evolved to be someone who wants to make a difference. The ending completes the story by circling back to the beginning, through the idea of “noblesse oblige.” The student also manages to state clearly her thesis: she deserves acceptance into the National Honor Society.

This student’s story also centers around an emotional current, that of the student’s grandmother. The reader wants to invest in the story more because of this emotional aspect. Literacy is clearly not a random activity, but a meaningful one for the student. Including a role model allows the student to avoid bragging by transferring her praise to her grandmother.

Finally, the tone of the essay is formal (“It would be an immense honor”). Meanwhile, the unique voice of the student comes through (“We both went to shovel up the last slice of pie”). She accurately cites the names of the organizations she’s involved with and uses specificity (such as her grandmother’s kitchen cabinets) to draw the reader in.

Finished Your National Honor Society Essay?

Hopefully, you found our NHS essay example to be helpful. Now, feel free to check out our list of academic contests for more ways to boost your academic profile.

  • High School Success

Kaylen Baker

With a BA in Literary Studies from Middlebury College, an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University, and a Master’s in Translation from Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, Kaylen has been working with students on their writing for over five years. Previously, Kaylen taught a fiction course for high school students as part of Columbia Artists/Teachers, and served as an English Language Assistant for the French National Department of Education. Kaylen is an experienced writer/translator whose work has been featured in Los Angeles Review, Hybrid, San Francisco Bay Guardian, France Today, and Honolulu Weekly, among others.

  • 2-Year Colleges
  • Application Strategies
  • Best Colleges by Major
  • Best Colleges by State
  • Big Picture
  • Career & Personality Assessment
  • College Essay
  • College Search/Knowledge
  • College Success
  • Costs & Financial Aid
  • Data Visualizations
  • Dental School Admissions
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Graduate School Admissions
  • High Schools
  • Homeschool Resources
  • Law School Admissions
  • Medical School Admissions
  • Navigating the Admissions Process
  • Online Learning
  • Outdoor Adventure
  • Private High School Spotlight
  • Research Programs
  • Summer Program Spotlight
  • Summer Programs
  • Teacher Tools
  • Test Prep Provider Spotlight

“Innovative and invaluable…use this book as your college lifeline.”

— Lynn O'Shaughnessy

Nationally Recognized College Expert

College Planning in Your Inbox

Join our information-packed monthly newsletter.



In the 21st century, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, significantly influencing the way we communicate and interact. This essay explores the profound impact of social media on communication, particularly among college students, highlighting both its benefits and challenges.

Body Paragraph 1: Enhancing Connectivity and Information Exchange

  • Detail: Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have revolutionized communication, making it faster and more accessible.
  • Example: College students use these platforms to connect with peers, exchange academic information, and participate in online study groups.
  • Analysis: This ease of communication fosters a sense of community and facilitates information sharing, which is crucial in an academic setting.

Body Paragraph 2: Social Media as a Tool for Personal Expression and Creativity

  • Detail: Social media provides a space for personal expression and creativity.
  • Example: Many students use platforms like TikTok and YouTube to showcase their talents, share experiences, and express opinions.
  • Analysis: This expression not only nurtures creativity but also helps in developing a sense of identity and self-confidence.

Body Paragraph 3: The Challenges of Social Media in Communication

  • Detail: Despite its advantages, social media also presents challenges, such as the spread of misinformation and impact on mental health.
  • Example: The prevalence of ‘fake news’ and the pressure to maintain an idealized online persona can lead to stress and anxiety among students.
  • Analysis: It is essential to cultivate digital literacy and critical thinking to navigate these challenges effectively.

Social media has undeniably transformed communication among college students, offering new avenues for connectivity, expression, and information exchange. However, it is imperative to be aware of and address its challenges to ensure healthy and productive use. As digital natives, college students stand at the forefront of harnessing the potential of social media to shape future communication paradigms.

Discover a comprehensive collection of essays at Examples.com, your ultimate resource for learning and teaching. Our website offers detailed guides, expert-crafted essays, and extensive resources tailored for all grades. Whether you’re a student seeking knowledge or a teacher looking for instructional materials, our AI-powered platform provides easily editable and printable content, completely free. Made by experts, our essays ensure a thorough understanding and enhanced learning experience.

honors english essay sample

Academic Essay for College Students

honors english essay sample

College Comparative Essay

honors english essay sample

College Informative Essay Outline

honors english essay sample

College Portfolio Essay

honors english essay sample

College Synthesis Essay

honors english essay sample

Comparative Essay

honors english essay sample

Comparative Essay For High School

honors english essay sample

Essay on Abortion

honors english essay sample

Essay on Accountability

honors english essay sample

Essay on Addiction

honors english essay sample

Essay on America

honors english essay sample

Essay on American Civil War

honors english essay sample

Essay on American Revolution

honors english essay sample

Essay on Animal testing

honors english essay sample

Essay on Animals

honors english essay sample

Essay on Anxiety

honors english essay sample

Essay on APJ Abdul Kalam

honors english essay sample

Essay on Art

honors english essay sample

Essay on Artificial Intelligence (AI)

honors english essay sample

Essay on Austrailia

honors english essay sample

Essay on Basketball

honors english essay sample

Essay on Bhagath Singh

honors english essay sample

Essay on Brother

honors english essay sample

Essay on Bullying

honors english essay sample

Essay on Career Goals

honors english essay sample

Essay on Character

honors english essay sample

Essay on Child Labor

honors english essay sample

Essay on Childhood Memory

honors english essay sample

Essay on Children’s Day

honors english essay sample

Essay on Climate Change

honors english essay sample

Essay on Coeducation

honors english essay sample

Essay on Cold war

honors english essay sample

Essay on Communication

honors english essay sample

Essay on Computer

honors english essay sample

Essay on Constituion

honors english essay sample

Essay on Courage

honors english essay sample

Essay on Cow

honors english essay sample

Essay on Cricket

honors english essay sample

Essay on Critical Thinking

honors english essay sample

Essay on Criticism

honors english essay sample

Essay on Crucible

honors english essay sample

Essay on Culture

honors english essay sample

Essay on Cyber Bullying

honors english essay sample

Essay on Cyber Crime

honors english essay sample

Essay on Dad/ Father

honors english essay sample

Essay on Daily Routine

honors english essay sample

Essay on Death

honors english essay sample

Essay on Death Penalty

honors english essay sample

Essay on Deforestation

honors english essay sample

Essay on Depression

honors english essay sample

Essay on Diabetics

honors english essay sample

Essay on Disaster Management

honors english essay sample

Essay on Discipline

honors english essay sample

Essay on Diwali

honors english essay sample

Essay on Doctor

honors english essay sample

Essay on Dog

honors english essay sample

Essay on Domestic Violence

honors english essay sample

Essay on Drug/ Substance Abuse

honors english essay sample

Essay on Dusshera

honors english essay sample

Essay on Earthquake

honors english essay sample

Essay on Eating Disorder

honors english essay sample

Essay on Economics

honors english essay sample

Essay on Education

honors english essay sample

Essay on Education Rules

honors english essay sample

Essay on Elephant

honors english essay sample

Essay on Environment

honors english essay sample

Essay on Ethics

honors english essay sample

Essay on Euthanasia

honors english essay sample

Essay on Failure

honors english essay sample

Essay on Fashion

honors english essay sample

Essay on Fear

honors english essay sample

Essay on Feminism

honors english essay sample

Essay on Floods

honors english essay sample

Essay on Food

honors english essay sample

Essay on Forest

honors english essay sample

Essay on Frankanstien

honors english essay sample

Essay on Freedom

honors english essay sample

Essay on Friendship

honors english essay sample

Essay on Gender Inequality

honors english essay sample

Essay on General Rules

honors english essay sample

Essay on Globalization

honors english essay sample

Essay on Good Habits

honors english essay sample

Essay on Good Manners

honors english essay sample

Essay on Grandparents

honors english essay sample

Essay on Great Gatsby

honors english essay sample

Essay on Grief

honors english essay sample

Essay on Gun Control & Gun Violence

honors english essay sample

Essay on Hamlet

honors english essay sample

Essay on Happiness

honors english essay sample

Essay on Harriet Tubman

honors english essay sample

Essay on Health is Wealth

honors english essay sample

Essay on Holi

honors english essay sample

Essay on Homework

honors english essay sample

Essay on Homlessness

honors english essay sample

Essay on Honesty

honors english essay sample

Essay on Human Rights

honors english essay sample

Essay on Identity

honors english essay sample

Essay on Importance of Reading

honors english essay sample

Essay on India

honors english essay sample

Essay on Industrial Revolution


  1. Honors College Essay

    honors english essay sample

  2. 💐 English essay samples. Best 20 Essay Examples (500+ Words Each). 2022

    honors english essay sample

  3. Academic Essay Structure Tips [Writing Guide]

    honors english essay sample

  4. Honors english 2 writing sample

    honors english essay sample

  5. Honors english 2 writing sample

    honors english essay sample

  6. Honors Program

    honors english essay sample


  1. Emergency Broadcast (Honors English 2)

  2. Bevins Honors English 2 Speech Project

  3. Honors English 10 Trailer

  4. UA Fellowship/Scholarship Application

  5. Pleading Child

  6. CSS/PMS English Essay || Topic Selection, Outlines Making || Sir Ghias Ismat


  1. Honors College Essay: Tips, Prompt Examples and How to Write

    To get your honors college essay, follow these tips: Think about the prompt and what you want to say. Brainstorm. Organize your thoughts into a logical outline. Write your introduction. End with a conclusion that sums up the main points of your argument and connects those points back to the prompt.

  2. A Great Pitt Honors College Essay Example

    In this post, we'll share a real essay a student submitted to the University of Pittsburgh Honors College, and outline its strengths and areas of improvement. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved). Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be ...

  3. Why Honors English is Right for Me

    Why Honors English is Right for Me. This application essay for an Honors English class argues that the student's love of reading and writing, as well as the ability to keep up with the pace, makes them a good candidate. This essay received an A by one of Kibin's paper graders.

  4. Tips for Writing an Honors College Essay

    Writing an Honors College Essay (Max. 400 words) A college essay is a chance for you to tell us what all your records cannot: who you really are, how you think, and how well you write. It is not an invitation to tell a story, write a novel, or write about other people's experiences.

  5. DOCX Loudoun County Public Schools High School Honors English Curriculum

    Over the course of the 2011-2012 school year, this group designed a framework and sample units for English 11 Honors. During the 2012-2013 school year, two members of this committee then led a year-long professional development cohort of English 11 Honors teachers from 12 of the 13 high schools to field test the sample units and develop ...

  6. Honors English Reflective Essay

    Honors English Reflective Essay. 535 Words3 Pages. Honors english has helped me with many things; for instance, it has helped expand my vocabulary. It has also helped me learn how to sort evidence and claims efficiently, which was challenging.When I was in normal english I felt like I wasn't able to show my full potential, But with my teachers ...

  7. Honors Program Guide

    The Honors Program is a three-course commitment in which students must complete: ENGL 4910 (Pre-1800) or ENGL 4920 (Post-1800): Honors Seminar. The purpose of the Honors Seminar is to acquaint students with methods of study and research to help them write their thesis. The seminar requires a substantial essay that incorporates evidence and ...

  8. PDF English 10 Honors

    The Honors Portfolio Reflection Essay is the culmination of a year's writing portfolio development and students' on-going reflections on their growth as writers. In Honors English, students are expected to be writing a great deal and reflecting on these writings throughout the year. The Honors Portfolio Reflection Essay will have the ...

  9. PDF Honors English 10

    Write a 4-6(no longer than 6) page essay for any 2 of the following prompts (4-6 pages for each essay). This is NOT a 5 paragraph essay. Please write to the best of your ability. Remember this is for an HONORS course!! ***Include in-text citation with page number for each work and a works cited page. ***You can approach this two ways: 1.

  10. Honors Theses

    Writing a senior honors thesis, or any major research essay, can seem daunting at first. A thesis requires a reflective, multi-stage writing process. This handout will walk you through those stages. It is targeted at students in the humanities and social sciences, since their theses tend to involve more writing than projects in the hard sciences.

  11. PDF Honors English 9 Summer Reading Prompts

    Conclusion: •Restated thesis (1 sentence) •Recap of main points (2 sentences for point) Final thought (1 sentence) Prompts: 1. Think about the idea of suspense. Authors frequently hold their audiences in suspense by manipulating the way a reader interprets their writing through the author's specific word choice.

  12. Honors application essay?

    4 months ago. When choosing a topic for your honors program application essay, you'll want to demonstrate your intellectual curiosity, passion for learning, and what makes you a strong candidate for the program. A successful essay will showcase your unique perspective, critical thinking skills, and ability to communicate effectively.

  13. English Honors Program

    The English Honors Program is open to applicants who have shown exceptional ability in English. English Honors is designed to expand and intensify the academic experiences of advanced English majors through completion of a three-quarter, cohort-based program. ... Most graduate programs in English also require a critical writing sample, an essay ...

  14. Honors English Application

    Honors English is the perfect stepping stone that will push me to be a better writer, deeper thinker, and well-rounded student. Found a perfect sample but need a unique one? ... IvyMoose is the largest stock of essay samples on lots of topics and for any discipline. All samples are real essays written by real students who kindly donate their ...

  15. PDF Honors English 9 Syllabus

    Organize and write a cohesive five paragraph essay 5. Examine the use of setting and relevance to our novels 6. Identify figures of speech without and within texts 7. Use the Modern Language Association (MLA) format for all papers and essays 8. Express and explain interpretations and responses to our novels, orally and in writing 9.

  16. Honors in English

    To apply for Honors candidacy, students submit an application form and a writing sample (an essay of no fewer than eight pages written for a previous English literature course). Students must also arrange to have two English literature instructors write brief recommendations on their behalf, which should be emailed directly to the Academic ...


    8 - Effective. Essays earning a score of 8 effectively argue a position on whether a school should establish, maintain, reconsider, or eliminate an honor code or honor system. They develop their argument by effectively synthesizing* at least three of the sources. The evidence and explanations used are appropriate and convincing.

  18. Example National Honor Society Essay: Scholarship and Service

    Scholarship: Begin your essay by highlighting your academic accomplishments. Mention your high school, school year, and impressive grade point average (GPA). Emphasize how your dedication to academics has shaped your character and instilled a sense of discipline. Leadership: Describe your leadership skills and experiences.

  19. Honors english 2 writing sample

    Download now. Honors english 2 writing sample. 1. Honors English 2 Writing Sample: Rising Above Essay Topic: Describe a situation where a person has risen above difficult beginnings. Use evidence from literature, movies, pop culture, and sports. Procedure: On a separate piece of paper, brainstorm for ideas and create some kind of web, outline ...

  20. Short Essay: National Honor Society

    Short Essay. Writing an essay for the National Honor Society (NHS) is a pivotal step for students seeking to join an organization that recognizes outstanding academic achievements and civic involvement. The NHS essay is more than just an academic exercise; it is a showcase of a student's character, leadership, service, and citizenship.

  21. How to Write the National Honor Society Essay + Example

    Here are five strategies: 1. Make it Personal and Individual. Your application form provides the facts about the scope and range of your involvement and contributions to your communities. Be sure that you write your essay in a way that brings this data to life.

  22. PDF Choose two of the wri,ng prompts listed below and cra6 a short essay

    Honors First Year Applicant Writing Prompts. Choose two of the wri,ng prompts listed below and cra6 a short essay for each prompt of no more than 250 words per essay. Upload your work as a Word doc or PDF when applying online. Unfortunately, we cannot accept Google docs links. Describe your interest in joining the Honors Program at the ...

  23. National Honor Society (NHS) Essay Examples & Expert Advice

    Every year, high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors write National Honor Society essays in the hopes of becoming a member. It's certainly an admirable recognition. Joining the ranks means partaking in an interscholastic tradition alongside future movers and shakers. Past National Honor Society (NHS) members have consisted of Olympians, astronauts, senators, neurosurgeons, Nobel prize ...

  24. Essay Examples, Interactive Resources

    Essay. Discover a comprehensive collection of essays at Examples.com, your ultimate resource for learning and teaching. Our website offers detailed guides, expert-crafted essays, and extensive resources tailored for all grades.