Department Honors Program

As of September, 2000 Effective for students beginning degree Fall Sem.'00 thru Summer Sem.'01

Academically able students who would like to pursue philosophy in greater depth are encouraged to enroll in Department Honors. As an Honors student you will work one-on-one with professors in select classes. You will do original, independent work that takes you beyond the basics and will enjoy the benefits of close supervision and mentorship. Your senior project will be another opportunity to work with a faculty member on a problem that is significant personally and in your discipline. Participating in Department Honors will enhance your chances of obtaining fellowships and admission to graduate school. The campus-wide Honors program, which is open to all Honors students regardless of major, offers a rich program of cultural and social activities, special classes and the benefit of priority registration.

Admission Requirements

1. Acceptance as a Philosophy Major is required.

2. Acceptance into the Utah State University Honors Program is a prerequisite for admission to the Philosophy Honors Program.  For information on the University Honors Program please go to

3. Students must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 to be admitted to the Department Honors Program and retain a grade point average of at least 3.5 to remain in this program. Departmental Honors Program Requirements

You will need to complete a minimum of 15 upper-division Honors semester credits. The 15 credits are divided between course work completed with Honors Contracts, a Senior Honors Seminar and a Senior Honors Thesis.

The Philosophy courses you take for Honors credit are ones you would typically be taking to fulfill requirements for a Philosophy major. Some dedicated honors courses will

be available to you (check the Honors Program web page). In addition, with the approval of your Honors advisor, three elective Honors credits from courses in other departments may be applied to satisfying your Philosophy Honors requirements.

To receive Honors credit in any course, you will meet regularly with the professor and agree on a program of extra, Honors-quality work. You and the professor formalize this agreement by filling out a contract describing what you will do for Honors credit. Copies of this form are available in the Honors Program office or from the Department Honors Advisor. Additionally, you must have a Department Honors plan of study on file with the Honors Program. Please contact the Honors Program office for further details.

The work you do to earn Honors credit may take the form of an extra paper, additional reading, and/or an oral presentation to the class. However, it should not just be more of the same level of work you are doing for the class. Honors-quality work should address an intellectual question or problem, and it should consider the subject in more detail than regular work in the course.
In your Senior year you will take 3-6 credits of PHIL 4930H, Senior Honors Thesis (directed independent study) while researching and writing your Senior Honors Thesis.

The Senior Honors Thesis

There is no set format for the thesis. For instance, it might address a research topic you have encountered in one of your philosophy classes, or it could report on research you have conducted concerning a dual major or minor field. The important thing is, like Honors course work, it should define and engage a specific academic question or problem. You will work with a thesis adviser, a faculty member who is familiar with the subject of your thesis and is willing to advise you on it, and you will also be guided by the Philosophy Honors Committee. The committee will review your thesis proposal and your finished thesis.

Once your thesis is written and approved by your advisor, you may fulfill the Honors Senior Thesis requirement by:

(1) publishing your thesis in any philosophy journal, e.g., one of several undergraduate journals, (2) presenting your thesis at an academic conference, or (3) defending your thesis before a faculty committee selected by you and your Honors advisor.

The Value of a Philosophy Honors Degree The most important benefit is that your undergraduate education will be richer. As an Honors student you will be meeting greater challenges, working more closely with your instructors, and working on projects of your own design. These aspects of Honors work are rewarding in themselves, but they will also help prepare you for graduate work.

Moreover, if you are considering graduate school, having Honors courses and an Honors Thesis on your transcript and resume will look very good to the admissions officers. Honors students also receive special recognition at Commencement ceremonies.

When to apply

Prior to admission to the University or during your Sophomore year are the best times to apply. By your Sophomore year you will have established an academic record at USU and you will have begun thinking about what to do during your Junior and Senior years.

If you are transferring from a two-year college, you should apply immediately.

Application Procedures

Make an appointment to see the Philosophy Honors Advisor:
Prof. Richard Sherlock
Main 202E
(435) 797-1244

Bring a copy of your transcript and some thoughts on which courses you might like to take for Honors credit in your Junior year. When you have a topic for your Senior Thesis, please submit a proposal to Prof. Sherlock. He will then review your proposal and meet with you to discuss it.