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Honors Program

The Honors Program in Linguistics gives outstanding senior majors an opportunity to design and carry out a research project on a topic of their choice, under close supervision of faculty. Participation in the Program is by invitation of the Department. The research project culminates in a senior thesis which, together with the student's record in linguistics and related courses, forms the basis for faculty decisions on the award of departmental honors.

In the spring before senior year, outstanding juniors majoring in Linguistics are invited to apply to participate in the honors program. A strong academic record with a 3.5 GPA in the major is expected.  Interested students should prepare a thesis proposal in consultation with the faculty member who will oversee the project, and present this proposal, including the identification of a second reader, to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for review. Proposals are due one week after the completion of the spring quarter before senior year. Proposals that are approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies will be pursued during senior year. 

Students in the honors program are required to take 2 additional linguistics courses during their senior year beyond those required for the major. These courses may be selected from LING 398-0 Undergraduate Seminar in Linguistics, LING 399-0 Independent Study, and 400-level courses.

The thesis must constitute an original contribution to linguistic knowledge and must consist substantially of independent research performed by the candidate. The honors thesis must be submitted to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for Linguistics no later than April 30 of the student's senior year.

The Award of Departmental Honors

Completion of the Honors Program is necessary to be eligible for departmental honors, but it does not assure such an award. The committee on Undergraduate Honors and Awards makes final recommendations on departmental honors, and its recommendations are subject to final approval by the Weinberg College Committee on Undergraduate Academic Excellence. The departmental committee considers the following criteria in its deliberations:

  1. Two faculty readers should find the candidate's thesis to be of very high quality. Of the two readers, one must be a member of the Northwestern Linguistics Faculty and the other must be approved in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Members of the Committee may serve as readers. At least one reader must be a faculty member who did not serve as the student's immediate supervisor.

Each reader must submit a written evaluation to the department committee based on careful examination of the thesis and a recommendation regarding the award of honors. The evaluation must describe the original contribution of the work and comment on its strengths and weaknesses.

The decision of the readers is final. In case of a division of opinion, a third faculty reader will be recruited and the majority decision will be accepted.

  1. The candidate should have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.5 in linguistics courses offered for the major.
  2. The minimum GPA requirements may be relaxed if the thesis is judged to be of extraordinarily high quality.

A majority vote of the Committee is required to recommend honors. The Committee's vote on each candidate accompanies its recommendations to the Weinberg College Committee on Undergraduate Academic Excellence.