English Honors Program


Previous English Honors students have gone on to graduate study in many prestigious programs (Duke English, Georgetown Asian Studies, Ohio State Rhetoric and Composition, George Washington University Public Policy, UA Medical School, UA English, UA MFA, Eller Business School, Temple Medical School, UMass Amherst MFA, and many others), as well as rewarding careers in a variety of employment sectors (Journalism, Digital Marketing, Education, Business, and more).  Many of our students praise the English Honors program for its intellectual rigor as well as its collaborative ethic:

I loved it! It was such a pleasure to be in classes with people who were equally as interested in and serious about reading and writing as I was. I think that UA does a moderately good job - better than most people assume - providing opportunities for dedicated students to excel. . . . My overall impression of UA (and what I tell people when they ask) is: Yes, it's huge and impersonal and academically mediocre, but all that fades into the background when you find your way into these little pockets of passionate people.
-Christy Delahanty, Creative Writing '11 and College of Humanities Senior of the Year, Currently Intranet Communications Manager at The Trust for Public Lands

Five years have passed since my time in the English Honors program, yet I continue to credit that experience as a turning point in my academic life. When you attend a college as large as the U of A, where you're required to take GenEd courses outside of your comfort zone in huge auditoriums, it's easy to feel insignificant and unfocused. The English Honors program was special because it restored that sense of purpose I longed to feel as a college student. I especially valued the required thesis component. Opportunities to receive sustained feedback on my work and cultivate an idea over time were rare, but the English Honors program provided such luxuries.
-Catherine Killough, English '12, Currently Roger L. Hale Fellow (Nuclear Policy) at Ploughshares Fund

The English Honors Program was one of my best academic experiences in college. . . .The intimate group setting and the knowledge base of the students and professors were critical to facilitating adequate engagement with the material. . . . For me, it was important to be able to receive high-quality feedback from another student and also expect to review a high-quality paper in return; substantial learning in writing and analytical skills comes from this process. . . . As a medical student, I thoroughly appreciate the writing, close-reading, and critical thinking skills that I developed as an English Major, but the quality of my skills would not have been the same had the group of people in the program been different.
-Aishan Shi, English '13, Currently Medical Student at Univeristy of Arizona College of Medicine
The English Honors program was an incredible academic and personal growth opportunity for me. Not only did I feel further connected to my studies in English and literature, I also felt closer to my classmates, my professors, and the University of Arizona. It allowed me to make my learning personal and exciting each and every day. Many of the things I learned I cherish still, and I teach to my own students now that I am a high school English teacher.
-Amanda Lester, English '15, Currently Teach for America Corps Member, Las Vegas

To put it briefly:  at a school as big as the U of A, my academic achievements notwithstanding, the hardest task I accomplished was finding people who cared as much as I did about my education. Fortunately, the honors program made that possible.
-Sally McCallum, English and Creative Writing '15 and College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Senior of the Year, Currently Language Arts teacher in Tucson
The English Honors Program offers to motivated and promising undergraduate students the opportunity to pursue compelling research or creative writing projects within a selective and academically-rigorous environment.  The small cohort (usually 8-12 students per year) allows for focused inquiry in exclusive, graduate-school-like seminars, and the three-semester length of the program encourages collaboration, support, and community between students working on independent thesis projects.  Many graduates of the program report that working in such small, selective classes and with the engaged attention of faculty mentors made their participation in the program the most intellectually stimulating experience in their undergraduate careers.
Students accepted into the program will take two exclusive English Honors research seminars and two independent studies, during which they will research and write an honors thesis.  The honors thesis aims to make a signal, original contribution to the student's field of study.  Students receiving English Honors will be celebrated at special graduation events, but the true rewards of the program are in the experience of participating as a scholar in the mission of intellectual discovery and in the outstanding preparation that it gives for graduate school and professional careers. 
All UA students, including transfer students, are eligible to apply, regardless of major or minor.  Students usually apply in the fall of their junior year, since the program usually takes three semesters to complete; however, sophomores and seniors who are expecting to extend their graduation date are also encouraged to apply.  Applicants need not be in the Honors College to apply, and Honors College students must apply to English Honors through the same process as all other students.  Honors College students, if accepted to English Honors, may apply the thesis and the seminars towards their Honors College requirements.
Honors College Notes:
(1) Honors College students wishing to write a creative thesis with Creative Writing faculty are strongly encouraged to apply for English Honors.  Due to great demand and limited faculty availability, students accepted into the English Honors Program will be prioritized for thesis advising.
(2) Honors College students who wish to write a creative thesis with Creative Writing faculty but who do not want to be considered for English Honors should still complete the English Honors and Thesis Application Form (below).  There is a checkbox on the application that designates that preference. 
Applicants should submit a completed English Honors and Thesis Application Form (below), which includes a writing sample, a personal statement, and the names of two faculty who will serve as references.
The writing sample(s) should be in the genre(s) of the thesis for which the student is applying (e.g. a critical essay about literature for a critical thesis, a set of poems for a poetry thesis).  The personal statement of one to two pages should briefly account for the student's interest and goals in the English Honors program as well as a possible description of a thesis project.  The faculty references will be contacted by the department directly.  Faculty references do not have to be members of UA faculty, but should have instructed the student at some point.  Students may find it beneficial to ask faculty members for permission to list them as references prior to doing so.
Full instructions and information about submitting application materials can be found on the application form:

English Honors and Thesis Application Form 2018

The 2018-2019 application submission cycle was completed Oct. 31, 2019. 

The 2019-2020 application submission period will be advertised early Fall 2019. If you have further questions, please contact Maribeth Slagle at maribeths1@email.arizona.edu.

Policies and FAQs:
The two documents listed below contain more information about the program policies and frequently asked questions. 
Still have questions about the program or application?  Please contact either Paul Hurh, Director of Undergraduate Studies (jphurh@email.arizona.edu), or Maribeth Slagle, Program Director (maribeths1@email.arizona.edu).


College of Social and Behavioral Sciences