To graduate with departmental honors, undergraduates must take 6 hours in philosophy in addition to the 27 hours required for the B.A. or B.G.S., for a total of 33 hours. The 6 additional hours include
- An additional course numbered 500 or above for a total of at least 15 hours at that level, and
- PHIL 499 Senior Essay.
A committee of 3 faculty members reads the finished essay, gives the candidate an oral examination over the essay, and determines whether it warrants honors. This committee must consist of the instructor in PHIL 499, the departmental honors coordinator, and a third member of the philosophy faculty.
Honors are not awarded to anyone who receives a grade lower than B in PHIL 499, whose final grade-point average in philosophy is lower than 3.5, or whose final KU or cumulative grade-point average is lower than 3.25. To be eligible for departmental honors, students must file a declaration of intent with the departmental honors coordinator no later than enrollment for the final undergraduate semester.
The most important element in departmental honors is the honors essay. Once a student has determined the area in which he or she wishes to work, he or she should arrange to write the essay under the guidance of a faculty member with appropriate expertise. Ideally, this work should be completed during a single semester. However, students often find it difficult to complete the essay in one semester. Therefore, we recommend that the essay be begun in the semester before the one in which the student intends to graduate (typically, in the fall semester of the senior year).
The honors essay should be intermediate between a master’s thesis and a term paper. It should normally be at least 20 pages (6,000 words) long. It should go beyond mere exposition, whether by criticism or by comparison of different works. Interpretations of rare or difficult texts may occasionally be accepted.