The Honors Program in English consists of the following senior-year courses (totaling 1.5 units):

  • ENGL 497 -  Senior Honors: the honors seminar (fall semester)
  • ENGL 493 - Individual Study (fall semester)
  • ENGL 498 - Senior Honors (spring-semester individual study) 

During this process, the honors candidate will be responsible for:

  • A thesis, in the form of a substantial critical essay of approximately fifty pages in length or a creative project of commensurate scope, evaluated by the department and an outside examiner (from outside Kenyon), due April 1, 2024.
  • A reflection paper: 5-7 pages, discussing a list of texts developed in consultation with the advisor, due April 15, 2024.
  • An oral exam on both the thesis and the reflection paper, conducted by the outside examiner (April 20, 2024). 

In order to be eligible for the Honors Program, students must have a 3.5 grade-point average in their English courses and a 3.3 grade-point average overall. Students must also produce a preliminary proposal (two pages) describing the proposed project and its critical or creative contexts (by August 15, 2023). On the basis of this proposal, students will be matched by the honors director with a faculty member in English who will serve as advisor and instructor for the individual-study courses.

A final proposal of five to ten pages (plus bibliography) will be due on September 29, 2023. If the Department does not find in the proposal compelling evidence that the student will produce a project worthy of honors, the student will not proceed to complete the Honors Program in the second semester (and will instead complete the fall-semester individual study and the honors seminar as stand-alone courses). At the discretion of the department, a student may be allowed to revise a proposal and resubmit it no later than November 1.

Honors begins with the honors seminar (ENGL 497) and the fall-semester individual study (ENGL 493). The individual-study course focuses on the production of the honors thesis under the direction of the honors advisor. During the first-semester individual study, honors students meet weekly with their advisors to plan and carry out extensive research and writing and, in the end, complete the draft of at least one chapter or significant section of the honors project.

Successful completion of both courses first semester is necessary for students to continue in the program second semester. The spring-semester program consists of ENGL 498: Senior Honors (the second individual study); the completion of the honors thesis (due April 1); a reflection paper (due April 15); and the oral examination (April 20). For more information about expectations for the honors thesis, consult with the program director.

Students who complete the Honors Program will earn grades in each of their three honors courses (ENGL 493, 497, and 498) as well as a degree of honors for the program overall. The degree of honors, determined by the outside examiner in response to the project and the oral examination, may be: “honors,” “high honors,” “highest honors,” or “not worthy of honors.”   

The English department considers successful completion of the Honors Program to be in itself a significant achievement. We expect, therefore, that most students who successfully complete the whole course of study will be awarded "honors" in English. Students whose work taken as a whole is demonstrably and unequivocally distinguished or excellent may be awarded "high honors." Rarer instances of exceptional distinction may even receive "highest honors." This degree of highest honors is reserved for exceptional cases and in many years will not be awarded.

If you are interested in finding out more about the program please contact the 2023-2024 honors director, Professor Orchid Tierney, at