Honors

A major desiring to become a candidate for honors in Latin American Studies must apply in writing to the department at the beginning of the fall semester of the senior year. Applicants must have an overall GPA of 3.2 and a GPA of 3.5 in all course work taken in the major at the time of application.

In order to receive honors, a student must, in addition to maintaining this level of performance, complete an independent study dedicated to research and writing the honors thesis (LAS 495) during the fall semester. Students will complete the written thesis in the spring as they complete the senior capstone course (LAS 490).

The independent study in fall of the senior year will be an additional course for the student, thus the LAS major seeking honors must complete 11 courses total for the major. Furthermore, for honors, the thesis must receive a grade of at least A-, as well as a departmental recommendation. The department may, upon awarding a thesis grade of A and given evidence of continued high academic achievement, recommend departmental high honors.

Fall of Senior Year

LAS 495 Independent Study is dedicated to research and writing the honors thesis. Grade will be noted as NG after the first semester and the final grade will be applied in the spring semester at the completion of the thesis. The final grade for the thesis will be determined by the thesis committee following a spring defense of the thesis.

Spring of Senior Year

LAS 490: The final grade for LAS 490, which includes a brief public presentation of the project with other LAS majors, will be determined by the instructor of record.

The Honors Thesis Committee

Students should identify a major advisor for the thesis. Typically the advisor will be a core member of the LAS program and need not be the candidate's academic advisor. The chair may approve a professor who is not core LAS faculty to serve as thesis advisor. As soon as possible, another LAS faculty member should be asked to be the second reader.

The Thesis Proposal

The proposal should normally be submitted within the first two weeks of the fall semester. This proposal should offer a detailed, not general, discussion of your topic. In addition, it should show a plan for a feasible topic to be completed through the senior honor’s thesis. As you write the proposal, please take into account some of the following issues.

  1. Define your topic and specify the major questions about it that you plan to address.
  2. Outline a plan for your research. How will you gather information? What are your source bases?
  3. What is the previous scholarship on the topic? Identify major issues or major debates in your field. How will these inform your research? How do particular scholars help frame your own thinking? This should reflect a general sense of the scholarship in your area with attention to scholarship produced in Latin America as well as the US.
  4. How does your thesis use multiple disciplines in terms of research method or scholarly influences?
  5. A statement on the potential significance of your research topic. Depending on your topic this statement might speak to the existing scholarship in terms of its contribution or it might be a contribution to contemporary issues in Latin America or a US Latino context.
  6. A rough timetable for research and writing. This should be done in consultation with your thesis advisor.
  7. A detailed bibliography in the proper format.

The overall length of the body of the proposal need be no more than about four-five pages, plus a bibliography.

Evaluation

Although the department as a whole evaluates the thesis proposal, the final evaluation of the thesis is the responsibility of the thesis committee alone. The evaluation will be made not only on the basis of the finished project, but also on evidence of steady progress throughout the academic year and on a satisfactory oral defense.

An oral defense with the thesis committee and the LAS chair will be scheduled following submission of a final complete draft. The thesis advisor and second reader will come to the defense having been well versed in the topic across the course of the year; the chair participates to provide a fresh perspective on the thesis for the conversation in the defense. The defense will be held for one hour.

The committee will then indicate necessary revisions for the final version. The student will also present his or her work to a larger, public audience along with the LAS majors in the spring capstone course. The due date for the thesis, will be determined each spring in order to accommodate the defense, necessary revisions, and the early deadline for senior grades. Students should submit the thesis by electronic version to the LAS Chair. Committee members may request electronic or paper copies of the thesis from the student.

The library now accepts only electronic versions of the thesis.