Honors Requirements

Honors Thesis Deadlines

Please plan your defense well in advance. A student who is defending her thesis is responsible for scheduling the date, time, and place of her defense after consulting with all of her committee members.

  • Thesis Committee Formation due date: by first Friday in March
  • First Draft due date: consult with Committee members
  • Oral Defense Version due date: to Committee at least 1 week before defense

Honors in Asian Studies

A senior, whether she is a major in Asian Studies Program or not, who has identified a significant topic and adequate sources for research may, with the approval of her advisor(s), choose to write a thesis in Asian studies. Generally based on two semesters of AS 395, a thesis evolves from an independent study as the student and advisor(s) recognize that both the subject and the quality of the work might merit submission as an honors thesis. Students considering honors work in Asian studies should consult the archives collections for the College's general criteria and guidelines for honors. Within this link are two sublinks to the formatting and submission of honors papers. The following link is taken from the Dean of Faculty's Legislation Handbook. Please see pages 22-23, 30, and 35-37 for relevant information about an honors thesis. At or prior to the beginning of her first semester of AS 395, a student should submit a proposal to her primary advisor. It should contain the research problem: What question(s) will be answered or resolved in the independent study? The proposal should also contain a tentative outline of the final work and a paragraph or two outlining the methodology to be used in answering the question(s) and a statement of the significance of the project. The proposal should contain a short bibliography of works that will be consulted, with particular focus on primary sources. If other faculty members are to be involved in the independent study, the student should seek their advice throughout the process.

First semester's work

During the first semester of AS 395, a student must focus intensively on research and writing. By the end of the first semester, she should have completed a substantial portion of the project and have a clear idea of what remains to be done. At the end of this semester, the student and advisor should meet to discuss whether or not to continue the project into a second semester and, if it is to continue, whether it might evolve into an honors thesis. At this point, the advisor may recommend termination of the project, a second semester of independent study, or a second semester leading to an honors thesis.

Thesis committee

If the student and her advisor agree that an honors thesis might result from the independent study, the student should choose two more faculty advisors to serve as her thesis committee; at least one of them should be a member of the Asian Studies Committee. Five College professors may serve as thesis committee members at Mount Holyoke. Early in the second semester (or in January Term), all of the advisors should read and evaluate the results of the first semester's work and agree that it might become an honors project.

Second semester's work

The student is required to submit a complete draft of the honors thesis to the thesis committee by the end of March. This allows adequate time for revisions and polishing. The Asian Studies Committee will designate a deadline—usually in the last two weeks of the second semester—for submission of honors work in the field. The criteria for an honors thesis are strict: It must be well written, lucidly argued, free of typographical and other prosaic errors, and attractively presented.  

Final evaluation process

When the student submits her honors thesis, the members of the committee will evaluate it and decide whether or not it merits examination for honors. If the student has kept to the above schedule and consulted regularly with her advisors, this result should not come as a surprise. With the committee's approval, the student and her primary advisor will schedule an oral examination, which usually takes place around the end of classes. During this one-hour examination, attended by the student, her thesis committee, and (often) the Asian Studies Committee chair, the student will be asked to describe the research and its results, including issues which remain unresolved, and to answer questions posed by the faculty. On the basis of the written work and the oral examination, the thesis committee will recommend to the Asian Studies Committee that the student receive her degree with highest honor, high honor, honor, or no honor. By time-honored Mount Holyoke tradition, the faculty committee makes its decision immediately after the oral examination and informs the student on the spot whether they will recommend honor in Asian studies but not the level of honor.

Final submission

If the thesis committee recommends that the student receive honors in an Asian Studies major, the student then has until mid-summer to make any (minor) corrections to the thesis recommended by her advisor(s). The thesis must then be submitted to the library, where it becomes a permanent part of the collection. Honors theses are also archived in electronic form at the library.

Work in Asian Language Sources

An Asian Studies major may combine a two-credit independent study with a conventional course in AS or another discipline in order to read sources in an Asian language. As above, she must receive the instructor's permission to register for independent study, usually at the same level as the course. For example, a student might combine History 296 (“Women in Chinese History”) with a two-credit AS 295 for which she will read appropriate texts in an Asian language, chosen with the instructor. Similarly, with the instructor's permission, a student might combine a 300-level course on Indian religion with a two-credit AS 395 to read Indian texts in the original. For this type of independent study, the student must demonstrate adequate reading knowledge of the language in question.